Why Study Yiddish with the KU Slavic Department?

Languages in the Slavic Department


Why Study Yiddish?

Yiddish is the language of European Jews and has been spoken since the Middle Ages in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. It thrived most recently as the language of Jewish communities in the Austro-Hungarian and Russian Empires and vast numbers of its speakers emigrated at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to the United States. A rich writing tradition in Yiddish, much of it still non-translated, remains even as the number of speakers dwindled in the second half of the twentieth century as a result of both the Holocaust and assimilation. Writers such as Sholem Aleikhem—the “Jewish Mark Twain”—wrote works in Yiddish that are part of the world literary treasures of the modern age. Yiddish is still spoken in Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel, Europe, and the United States and the language has undergone a revival among secular Jews on U.S. college campuses since the 1960s.

Linguists find Yiddish a particularly interesting language to study because of its blended nature: its lexicon is made up primarily of German, Hebrew, and Aramaic components, but it also has structural characteristics that reveal commonalities with Romance and Slavic languages.

Learning Yiddish is fun because it is the language of an ethnic group whose humor and musical sensibilities are inseparable from the language itself. Any course in Yiddish inevitably includes songs, jokes, riddles, and insults that reflect the essential elements of everyday discourse and life in Yiddishkeit.


Courses Offered

YDSH 104 Elementary Yiddish I
Essentials of grammar, practice in speaking, reading, and writing Yiddish. Not open to native speakers of Yiddish. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 108 Elementary Yiddish II
Continuation of grammar, practice in conversation, composition, and reading. Not open to native speakers of Yiddish. Prerequisite: YDSH 104 or equivalent. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 212 Intermediate Yiddish I
Structured grammar review, composition, conversation, with readings of literary and cultural texts. Not open to native speakers of Yiddish. Prerequisite: YDSH 108 or equivalent. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 216 Intermediate Yiddish II
A continuation of YDSH 212. Structured grammar review, composition, conversation, with readings of literary and cultural texts. Not open to native speakers of Yiddish. Prerequisite: YDSH 212 or equivalent. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 395 Study Abroad Topics in Yiddish: _____
This course is designed for the study abroad of special topics in Yiddish at the junior/senior level. Coursework must be arranged through the Office of KU Study Abroad. May be repeated for credit if content varies. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 410 Studies in Modern Yiddish Literature
An introduction to Yiddish literature from the nineteenth century to the present day. The course emphasizes the development of basic interpretive skills and the understanding of basic literary movements, genres, and concepts. Prerequisite: YDSH 216 or equivalent. LEC.

The class is not offered for the Spring 2018 semester.

YDSH 490 Independent Study
Intensive reading or research under faculty supervision IND.
Spring 2018
Type Time/Place and Instructor Credit Hours Class #
IND Perelmutter, Renee
APPT- KULC APPT - LAWRENCE
1-3 59939

Giving

KU’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies program is one of only 12 federally-funded national resource centers in the US
Only doctoral program in Slavic Languages and Literatures between the Mississippi and the West Coast
100% of graduate students in the Slavic program had funding in academic year 2012-13
KU's Libraries house over 500,000 volumes of Slavic books and electronic editions
Two of the department’s last four doctoral candidates have won a Fulbright grants to conduct dissertation research abroad