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A Goy Who Speaks YiddishChristians and the Jewish Language in Early Modern Germany$
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Aya Elyada

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804781930

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804781930.001.0001

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Conclusion: Yiddish As Antilanguage

Conclusion: Yiddish As Antilanguage

(p.118) Conclusion: Yiddish As Antilanguage
A Goy Who Speaks Yiddish
Stanford University Press

The alleged criminal tendencies of the Jews in early modern Germany was often linked to their wish to hurt Christians and Christian institutions, implying that Jews posed a threat to both religious and social orders. The Yiddish language occupied a central place in all of these accusations against the Jews, particularly in the crimes attributed to them. This connection between Yiddish and Jewish subversiveness as portrayed in Christian literature indicates that the Christian authors saw Yiddish not only as a secret language but also as what the sociolinguist Michael Halliday called “antilanguage,” the language of an antisociety. An important feature of the antilanguage was its secrecy, which stemmed in part from the linguistic processes of relexicalization and overlexicalization. As the antilanguage of an antisociety, Yiddish was perceived as the reflection of an alternative social reality in which Judaism gained supremacy and Christianity was under attack.

Keywords:   Yiddish language, Jews, antilanguage, antisociety, Germany, crimes, Christian literature, Michael Halliday, Judaism, Christianity

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