In preparation for Yiddish

As the Yiddish team has finally told us what the hold up was (they were working offline, but haven't updated anyone on it, thus making us believe they had abandoned the course), I decided to help y'all get a bit of a head start on basic rules (colloquial of course, it may or may not be the same as YIVO at times).

1) If you ask "Are you...?" it goes from "You are" to basically a squish to "Areye", דו ביסט>*ביזטו*. For example: דו שלאָפסט, you sleep, becomes שלאָפסטי**?, do you sleep?

2) Yiddish uses the same alphabet as Hebrew does, except the use of ח and ת are mostly limited to only words of Hebrew origin, like מתנה, gift.

3) Some dialects have 3 ways to say y'all. In certain areas in Brooklyn, they would say "עץ/עטס - ענק - איר"

4) Many dialects also got rid of the "der/das/die" (word gender) German has. They even got rid of words like "mir" (we), and instead use only "inz" as we AND us, instead of just us.

5) The Nikkidis ( aren't used on every alphabet anymore, like in Hebrew, instead it's just on אַ אָ = א, and YIVO also still uses ײַ, and other sorts of Yid+nikkidis combinations.

6) The Yiddish going to be taught by duolingo is like kind of like Norweigan Bokmal, where people learn that instead of colloquial dialects, as it covers everything. Colloquially people change words, like eer>zeere (her), or eekh hub> khub (I have).

7) Surprising to many, but yes, Yiddish is an only language in many schools, in fact, I've gone to a Yiddish speaking school until I turned 13. (Only Yiddish, everything was taught in Yiddish).

8) If you add an English word into Yiddish sentences, everyone will understand you, and won't look at you funny. We even take English nouns and "verbatize" them. Like "Zee googlt is", she's googling it. Or "Dee skypst nisht kainer", you're not skyping anyone.

9) Yiddish can have 3 negatives in a sentence. Majority have 2, like "Ikh ken kainer nisht" "I know nobody not" (I don't know anyone).

10) Yes, Yiddish is still a major language in many communities, no it's not dying. Ever been to New York? Go to Monroe New York (Kiryas Joel) or Williamsburg New York, barely anyone in those Jewish towns speak English.

11) Yiddish uses all the pronouns, so unlike Spanish, even though it has just as many conjugations, it's still said.

12) Yiddish speakers don't speak formally with one another, they will definitely not say "ihr zent shpeyt" they'd say "dee bist shpeyt", *UNLESS* You're at a job, the person is very professional, you're meeting a teacher or someone like that, you're very respectful. I've been in a Yiddish community for all my life, the only times I've heard "ihr" was when my father went down to my school to speak to my principal, and on signs, or older people on their job or being extremely kind. You definitely won't hear it among the younger generation.

13) No modern female pop singer sings in Yiddish (yet). There are only like 3 songs that were sung, but by non Yiddish speaking women, and it was in Yiddish. It will be much harder to immerse yourself in Yiddish. Unless of course, you come to New York or Montreal where there are big communities of Yiddish speakers.

14) It's a common misconception that Yiddish speakers won't like to help you with your Yiddish, just the opposite. The maturer people would really love to help, as they find it interesting that they, (non-Jews especially), want to learn Yiddish. The younger generation might crack jokes and tell you the wrong translation purposely of course.

15) Yiddish uses many Hebrew phrases, like in Urdu they use Arabic phrases such as "Mashallah" or "Inshallah", we do the same with "Imyertze hashem" or "Burukh hashem".

16) If you speak Hebrew and expect an easy time, I'm warning you now, start learning German, as it's the most similar language. Hebrew is NOTHING like Yiddish, they're not even in the same family tree.

(Random fact: I've been asked over 30 times "What language do you speak?" I've replied "Yiddish" "Oh, is that like Hebrew?". The only similarities are the alphabet, and very small religious phrases, and a word here and there.

Edit Oh, and as always, if you have any Yiddish questions, feel free to ask me :)

November 4, 2016


Lmao, already starting with the dislikes. Alright then.

November 4, 2016

Thank you for posting this man. I was wondering myself about the Yiddish course, and I totally thought it was abandoned. Just ignore the haters dude. :)

PS: Have a lingot.

November 4, 2016

Thank you, it's the thought that counts :D (I have like 350 lingots LOL, but thank you!)

November 4, 2016


November 4, 2016

No downvotes here :) I'm stoked as well. Thanks for the primer!

aaaand I'm downvoted. :P

November 4, 2016

אַ שיינעם דאַנק פֿאַר די אינפֿאָרמאַציע!

Looking forward to the course.

November 4, 2016

Oh, and only YIVO (standard Yiddish) says a shainem dank, we say "shkoyekh" or "yasher koyekh" (from Hebrew)

November 4, 2016

Thanks for the tip! Since I live in Germany, I guess they teach the standard Yiddish as it is closer to German than the Yiddish in use in Ashkenazi communities in the States or Israel. Perhaps? That might make it easier for German speakers without a background in Hebrew. I'll ask my teacher next time. :-)

November 4, 2016

I was reading a brilliant book about the history of Yiddish for the past couple of days, and found myself getting kind of sad that the Yiddish course didn't seem to be moving, especially when I was reading about all the current initiatives to keep the language in circulation. This is great timing - I can't wait to learn it!

November 4, 2016

I became a little bit interested in Yiddish after I heard the band Gevolt, who are singing in Yiddish.

November 4, 2016

They're singing in YIVO or some similar Yiddish. This Yiddish is more more similar to German than the other dialect.

November 4, 2016

I see. I have no idea on how the different dialects is in Yiddish.

November 4, 2016

This is great news!

November 4, 2016

This was interesting. Thanks for posting.

November 4, 2016

Very interesting! Will be looking forward to seeing the course!

November 4, 2016

מיין שוועסטער איז אַן אַלטע מעכאשייפע

November 4, 2016


November 4, 2016

Thanks for this post, it was all great!!!! I liked, that you work hard in this Yiddish course, in our country almost everyone wants to speak English and forget the native one, but you like your native language... I always liked Jews, but you get one more like for them ... Go foward Yiddish (hopefully with Menorah)

December 10, 2016

Thanks for the info! However, I am not so optimistic about the future of Yiddish, being a "major language in many communities" is usually very far from enough to guarantee the survival of a language. If a language has a future or not is more depending on its sociolinguistic status rather than merely the number of speakers.

November 4, 2016

About what percentage of YIVO Yiddish is from what languages? You say that YIVO is very German, and much more so than colloquial Yiddish, but by learning the YIVO course am I going to be learning German?

November 4, 2016

No, it's a different language, but it's much more similar to German in many senses such as gendered words. Adjectives in Satmar Yiddish only change 2 ways, in YIVO it's 4 or 5. YIVO also has a more German pronunciation , like "very" is "zeyer" in YIVO, but "zaier" in the other dialect. Another example "To be here" "Tzu zayn da/tzu da zayn/Da tzu zayn"" in YIVO, but "tzee zaan du/Tzee du zaan/Du tzee zaan" in the Satmar Yiddish. (Obviously it depends on the sentence to make the word order).

November 4, 2016

Thank you, I wonder if you could tell me the percentage origins of YIVO Yiddish words, in English it's 29% Latin, 29% French, 26% Germanic, 6% Greek, 10% Other for example

November 5, 2016

I don't know exactly, but it's about 85% German origin, and 10% Hebrew and 5% Slavic languages. I'm not exactly sure

November 5, 2016

Thank you again

November 6, 2016

how long did it take you to do this?

November 6, 2016

Half hour

November 6, 2016

Apart from the unpopular preference, I would be looking forward to a duolingo course in Satmar Yiddish. 99.99% of the learning material online is of YIVO Yiddish. It's about time we get material of how to speak other dialects, especially if it's the one primarily spoken! It's like if only Middle English was taught today in a world of Modern English speakers.

December 9, 2016

Exactly!!!!! And you don't even speak the same dialect of Yiddish that I do, and yet you agree, it shows a lot! Thank you! I love your Yiddish too, more than YIVO for sure. (The dialect you put on TinyCards at least)

December 9, 2016

what is going on with yiddish?

October 17, 2018

I've been wondering whether there were anything "fun Mama Loshn." I had studied Uriel Weinreich's College Yiddish and can read but don't have a community to speak with.

January 20, 2019

Ceci n'est pas une update. 1 year ago Esteemed e-learners!

I write with just the quickest of updates, seeing as it's been a spell since the last one!

In brief: the new contributors we took on a couple of months ago are well on board and working away. Between us, we've completed a number of new skills, and are now about a sixth of the way up a tree. Up THE tree. In addition to that, I have finished planning and describing several more lesson sets, which will be written up shortly.

Be in touch again soon with more news!

A hartsikn grus, Mendl

Where is it?

February 27, 2019

Estimated Completion Date: July 7, 2018 :(

Great that you've gotten some extra help tho.

February 27, 2019

What happened with the Yiddish project?

May 19, 2019

it seemed pretty neglected :(. thankfully though, they recently took on a new volunteer, and it's starting to make slight progress!!

May 20, 2019

I just started learning Yiddish and I'm so excited for the course! Thanks for your posts!

September 29, 2018

did they release the course?

September 30, 2018

oh, apparently not even in the beta phase

September 30, 2018

Is it impossible to get immersed in Yiddish? Because I'm brazillian

November 23, 2018
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