My recent piece
got considerably more exposure than I thought it would. (Maybe this is the kick I
need to do more writing.)
- Soon after I posted the piece, I realised that I wasn’t the first to make the
Perl-Yiddish comparison – eichin
had it in his sig
(three years before I even knew what Perl was) – thanks to
- I also found a
more practical relationship between Perl and Yiddish.
- I mailed the piece to Nick
Sweeney – here’s a clip from our exchange:
Date: Sun, 23 Jun 2002 19:54:16 +0100 From: Yoz Grahame To: Nick Sweeney Gah. Apologies for the delay with this. > Now I have time to read it, having got through my three-page blogging > piece for Practical Internet. And I like it, especially the emphasis on > the kind of social glue (or perhaps, social crazy paving) that Yiddish > seems to provide: that you're held together by differences. Now, that's > something of a case in English, too: there's nothing so compelling as > those sites discussing different usage in different parts of the world. > But Yiddish, from what I've read and how you've described it, is much > closer to being a kind of linguistic DNA, especially now that it's a > language attenuated by the diaspora. Which chimes in with the > storytelling traditions and communal aspects of Judaism which I find > utterly fascinating and precious. Yep. However, I have been spanked for implying that this applies more to Yiddish than to other patois/pidgin languages: http://use.perl.org/comments.pl?sid=6336&cid=9839 I have no way to argue with this, as I admit I know very little actual Yiddish, let alone any of the languages he's talking about. I think my argument probably applies better to pidgin languages in general, and works well as a concept connector for those who don't know much about Yiddish or Perl (or both). I think there's a lot more depth to be gone into on the points you mention. Comparing the bizarre but beautiful traditions and rituals of Judaism with those of UNIX, etc. Both are religions that aim for complete internal consistency yet admit to being crazily hammered together by bearded argumentative loons. > Another thing that comes to mind. Language is bound up with divinity in > Judaism: naming gives being. Ooh ooh ooh. Must use this with the MOO pieces I want to write next. > But there's a language of G-d, and a > language of man, like the confines of balloon and the gas particles > inside, respectively. Rather like the relationship between church Latin > and demotic, a distinction that I still consider important, even if it's > now muted to registers of English. (But what I like about Catholicism is > that I can walk into a church in France, Hungary, Brazil, anywhere in > Africa, while Mass is taking place, and know more or less at which point > the service has reached.) > > That's Plato vs Aristotle, too: from the Ideal down, or from the ground > up. In which case Classical Hebrew is the language of G-d, Plato is yelling noisily at his football-playing mates in Modern Ivrit and Aristotle is krechtzing at them to keep the noise down. > But there are books of common prayer, too. http://www.mesorah.com/images/insides/i/issalm-1.jpg http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/cookbook/chapter/ch08.html (sorry) -- Yoram (Yoz) Grahame - email@example.com - http://yoz.com/
- It was Sean M. Burke (author of
Perl and LWP)
who gave me the criticisms I mention above. I certainly got caught on the hop
by my lack of anything but surface understanding. In defence I feel
he does Yiddish a disservice by discarding the culture – if you only examine the
syntax then you remove the most vital aspects of its usage. (And I never said
it had no grammar.) But, as I say, that’s mainly a gut feeling propelled by the emotion
around Yiddish rather than anything academically backed-up, so I’m probably going
to get spanked again.
- BooK posted a link to
article on Yiddish folklore and literature which features some great quotes,
especially this from Isaac Bashevis Singer:
There are some who call Yiddish a dead language, but so was Hebrew called for 2,000 years. Yiddish was the tongue of martyrs and saints, of dreamers and kabbalists. It contains treasures that have not yet been revealed to the eyes of the world. I say, therefore, to my children: Come back to me. Learn me, and my sisters Hebrew and Aramaic. Learn my and your history. Treasures are stored up for you, saved from a thousand fires, preserved through a thousand exiles, hidden and carried forth from enemies and tyrants. Yes, you will find many treasures but the greatest of all is yourself. You will find in me your inner being, your identity, your very soul.
- BooK also told me about Mendele: Forum for Yiddish Literature
and Yiddish Language
- Jonathan Leto advised me to learn
German (as a kind of bootstrap) and get my grandparents to talk to me in Yiddish
after that, since the leap isn’t that great. (More backup for Mr Burke, there…)
- Oh, and blame Arp for this title.
(Better link when his site comes back up – Web Archive hasn’t trawled it since November, bah)