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It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

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How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

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Title: Two-Tiered Relexification in Yiddish
Subtitle: Jews, Sorbs, Khazars, and the Kiev-Polessian Dialect
Written By: Paul Wexler
Series Title: Trends in Linguistics. Studies and Monographs

This study applies the relexification hypothesis to the genesis of Yiddish. The author believes Yiddish began as a Sorbian dialect relexified to High German between the 9th-12th centuries. The present study, rich in data (much of it presented as entries to a projected etymological dictionary), also suggests new diagnostic tests for identifying relexification. The presence in Yiddish of East Slavic features (e.g. pseudo-dual, gender and plural suffix assignment) suggests that the descendants of the Judaized Khazars also relexified Kiev-Polessian (northern Ukrainian and southern Belarussian) in the 15th century to Yiddish and German. Yiddish is thus a mixed West-East Slavic language and the best proof that Khazar Jews were a major component in the ethnogenesis of the Ashkenazic Jews. Two dramatic findings are that by comparing Middle High German and Slavic vocabulary and derivational machinery, it is possible (a) to "predict" with high accuracy which German components could be accepted by
Yiddish and (b) whether lexicon was most likely acquired in the first or second relexification phase or thereafter. Blockage of many Germanisms also necessitated reliance on Hebrew and invented Hebroidisms. Thus the study also contributes to an understanding of the genesis of (Slavic) Modern Hebrew, relexified from Yiddish in the 19th century.

1. The Relexification Hypothesis in Yiddish
2. Approaches to the study of Yiddish and other Jewish languages
3. Criteria for selecting German and Hebrew-Aramaic and for retaining
Slavic elements in Yiddish
3.1. Component blending in Yiddish
3.2. The status of synonyms in Yiddish
3.3. Constructing an etymological dictionary for a relexified language
4. Evidence for the two-tiered relexification hypothesis in Yiddish: From
Upper Sorbian to German and from Kiev-Polessian to Yiddish
4.1. Sixteen observations about the relexification hypothesis in Yiddish
4.2. German morphemes and morpheme sets fully accepted by Yiddish
4.3. German morpheme sets blocked fully or in part in Yiddish by the
Slavic substrata
4.4. The status of individual German morphemes and semantically related sets in Yiddish
4.5. Slavic gender and markers of plural and dual in Yiddish
4.6. Unrelexified Upper Sorbian and Kiev-Polessian elements in Yiddish
5. Future Challenges

Publication Year: 2002
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Language Documentation
Subject Language(s): Yiddish, Eastern
Yiddish, Western
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Format: Hardback
ISBN: 3110172585
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 713
Prices: Euro 128.00 / sFr 205 / approx. USD 128.00