Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Bahaltener commenting on Ukrainian Yiddish:

I fully support you in your interest for your dialect. Amongst Yiddish speaking crowd today the general attitude is to encourage preserving original dialects and not adopting common ones (like generic Hungarish/Polish or Litvish which became two major "players" today). This is simply because other dialects are almost gone, and therefore preserving them is worthwhile. Speaking to others doesn't always help to learn a given dialect, if so few people use it! But it helps in general to learn the language.

Polish/Hungarish Yiddish is prevailing in USA today, and Litvish one in Eretz Yisroel. Real Ukranish Yiddish (Podolish/Volynish) is used only by few today. Even though I've heard that in Eretz Yisroel, Litvish Yiddish was normative in Yerushalayim, and Ukrainish in Tzfas and Tveria. However it seems that the later became used less and less – you can ask someone from Tzfas about it.

In general, the difference between Polish and Ukrainish dialects is, that Tzeyre is pronounced as “AY” in Polish, and as “EY” in Ukrainish. Podolisher Yiddish also uses “O” for Pasoch, i.e. saying “Shobbes” and not “Shabbes” etc. The rules for Komatz are somewhat confusing (though they are the same for Polish and Ukrainish dialects). In Ukrainish/Poylish Loshn Koydesh if it is a closed syllable, Komatz is pronounces as “O” if it is an open syllable, as “U”. (Don't think about American English sounds though, which are usually pronounced for “O” and “U” when I write “O”, “U” etc. it will be misleading and too confusing). I'm talking about Yiddish sounds. So it will be “burich” and “atu” - open syllable - u, with “oylom” (not “oylum”) - closed syllable. In Yiddish however this rule is different and I don't know if it is formalized – so the only way to get it is to ask or to hear the right pronunciation. (May be there is a rule – I don't know it).

There is also more to it with different nuances (for vowels difference betwin Ukrainish, Litvish, Poylish and Hungarish) and I don't know all of them. I know one Yiddish teacher who is an expert in dialects. There is also an interesting site which collected many live recording of Yiddish speakers with different dialects from different locations. This helps a lot to learn some details:

As for shiurim, there are shiurim from Reb Michel Zilber (Rosh yeshiva Zvil). He speaks in Volynish Yiddish. You can get his shiurim on Mishna and Gemara (as digital files) from “Torah Tapes” archive.


At July 29, 2009 at 2:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Bubby, oleho hasholom, was born in Czernobyl. She told me that each shtetl in her vicinity in Ukraine -- Ivankov, Skvira, "Gornisteipla" (i.e., Hornisteipel) -- used a slightly different pronunciation of Yiddish.

If I recall correctly, a similar assertion is made in the book Subbota -- that each shtetl in the author's vicinity used a slightly different pronunciation of Yiddish.

For what it's worth.

At August 18, 2009 at 12:31:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your best bet for hearing "authentic" (or as close as it gets) ukranish yiddish is in new skver. Skevere chasidus (or as us galicianers call them, the kievere balagoles :) utilizes the pronounciation that Mr Bahaltener describes so accurately. Also, listen to many of Lipa's older CDs (the newer stuff is either modern ivrit influenced, or very hungarian), as well as any tapes from his father, the elder R' Schmelczer.


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