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the language of Ashkenazic Jewry (central and eastern European Jews and their descendants). Written in the Hebrew alphabet, Yiddish became one of the world's most widespread languages, appearing in most countries with a Jewish population by the 19th century. Along with Hebrew and Aramaic, it is one of the three major literary languages in Jewish history.
The earliest dated Yiddish documents are from the 12th century, but scholars reconstruct an origin in the 9th century when the Ashkenazim emerged as a unique cultural entity in central Europe. Yiddish first arose through an intricate fusion of two linguistic stocks: a Semitic component (containing postclassical Hebrew and Aramaic that the first settlers brought with them to Europe from the Middle East) and a grammatically and lexically more potent Germanic component (gleaned from a number of Upper and Central German dialects). In addition, a sprinkling of Romance words also seems to have appeared in Yiddish from early on. From its birthplace on German-speaking soil, Yiddish spread to nearly all of eastern Europe, where the language acquired a Slavic component.
Western Yiddish, the only form of Yiddish that was used during the earliest history of the language, remained the dominant branch during the Old Yiddish period (ending about 1500). It comprises Southwestern (Swiss-Alsatian-Southern German), Midwestern (Central German), and Northwestern (Netherlandic-Northern German) Yiddish. Eastern Yiddish, roughly equal in importance to its western counterpart during the Middle Yiddish period (c. 1500-1700), vastly overtook it in the Modern Yiddish period (from about 1700) and includes all present-day spoken Yiddish. The major Eastern Yiddish dialects are Southeastern (Ukrainian-Romanian), Mideastern (Polish-Galician-Eastern Hungarian), and Northeastern (Lithuanian-White Russian) Yiddish, upon which modern standard pronunciation of the language is based, though the grammar of the literary language draws from all three.
From its inception, Yiddish was the language of both the marketplace and the sophisticated logical argumentation in the Talmudic academies. Its literary functions continued to grow over the centuries, especially in genres not covered by traditional Hebrew and Aramaic. The rise of Yiddish printing in the 16th century stimulated the development of a standardized literary language on a Western Yiddish model. Owing to its gradual assimilation to German, as well as to a political campaign to stamp out the language waged by adherents of the late 18th century Germanizing movement, Western Yiddish faded into eventual extinction.
By the early 19th century, Eastern Yiddish, by contrast, blossomed and became the basis for the new literary language. Prompted at first by the mystical /bcom/eb/article/2/0,5716,40282+1+39460,00.htmlHasidic movement in the 18th and 19th centuries and spurred later by other social, educational, and political movements, Yiddish was carried to all the world's continents by massive migrations from eastern Europe, extending its traditional role as the Jewish lingua franca. The Yiddishist movement, dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the language, was strengthened by the proliferation of Yiddish belles lettres. Its achievements include the Czernowitz Language Conference of 1908 (which proclaimed Yiddish a national Jewish language), the orthographic and linguistic reforms introduced by Ber Borokhov in 1913, and the founding of the Yivo (Yiddish Scientific Institute) in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania, in 1925 (housed in New York City since 1940).
Millions of Yiddish speakers were victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The number of speakers was further reduced by official suppression in the Soviet Union, by the semiofficial antagonism (until recently) of Israeli authorities zealously guarding modern Hebrew, and massive voluntary shifts to other primary languages in Western countries. The language nevertheless continues to flourish among the ultra-Orthodox Hasidim in numerous countries and among secular students of Yiddish at leading universities, including Columbia University (New York), Hebrew University (Jerusalem), McGill University (Montreal), the University of Oxford, and the University of Paris.
largest cultural-linguistic group in the Philippines. They form the dominant population in the city of Manila; in all provinces bordering Manila Bay except Pampanga; in Nueva Ecija to the north; and in Batangas, Laguna, Marinduque, Mindoro, and Quezon to the south. Tagalog is an Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) language like the other Philippine languages. The mother tongue of some 19,550,000 Filipinos, it was chosen as the basis of the national language (Pilipino) and is taught in all schools.
Most Tagalog are farmers. Their local governments, or barrios, similar to U.S. townships, are aggregations of small hamlets (sitios) together with the surrounding farmland. Most rice is grown in flooded, diked fields, but some is produced dry in the upland areas. The principal cash crops are sugarcane and coconuts. The importance of Manila has given the urban Tagalog leadership in commerce, finance, manufacturing, the professions, and clerical and service operations. More than 80 percent of the people in the Tagalog provinces are Roman Catholic.
Through Manila, the Tagalog served for more than 500 years as mediators with the Chinese, Spanish, and Americans, selecting from, interpreting, and adapting these foreign cultures to the basic Indo-Malayan social pattern. The Tagalog have thus led in the modernization and Westernization that has passed in varying degrees from Luzon to all parts of the Philippine archipelago.
The Tagalog, however, have sharply resisted alien economic and political control. They initiated the anti-Spanish propaganda movement of the 19th century, and their generals led in armed revolts against Spain and the United States in 1896-1902. The principal Philippine national heroes of this period were Tagalog, and the Tagalog were among the leaders in the subsequent achievement of Philippine independence by constitutional means.
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