11 October 2010

Yiddish and Dutch

Because the Jewish bible is most likely the most quoted book in all history, it is not surprising that its translations paved the way for the entrance of new words into a language.  Here is a particular case:

"Hebraic Influences on the Dutch Language

"The influence of the Statenbijbel on the Dutch language can not be overestimated. Expressions deriving from this translation are still current in literature and colloquial usage. Besides such common words as Satan, cherubijn, etc., there are expressions like 'met de mantel der liefde bedekken' ('to cover with the coat of love'), borrowed from the story of Noah (Gen. 9:23). The influence of Yiddish began to be felt with the appearance of Dutch books by Jewish authors, which contained Yiddish expressions. Some Yiddish words that have become part of standard Dutch are Mokum, the popular nickname for Amsterdam ('place,' from makom); bajes ('prison,' from bayit); gabber ('friend,' from ḥaver); stiekem ('in secret,' from shetikah); and lef ('courage,' from lev). Many more are to be found in popular speech and thieves' slang – jatten ('to steal,' from yad), and kapoeres ('gone to pieces,' from kapparah). Others which were mainly used by Jews are disappearing with the dwindling of the Jewish community in Holland.

"The Jewish community has coined some Dutch words for its specific linguistic needs. By subtly changing the prefix of verbs and nouns, meaning has shifted – predominantly in the verbs aanbijten (lit. 'to bite on to,' to break the fast after Yom Kippur) and uitkomen (lit. 'to come out,' to convert to Judaism), and the noun voorzanger (lit. 'singer in front,' Cantor), which are not in use outside the Jewish community."

Even without researching, I am pretty sure that other languages have borrowed, perhaps even extensively, from translations into those languages of the Jewish and Christian scriptures.

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