With a rare combination of erudition and insight, the author investigates the major aspects of Yiddish language and culture, showing where Yiddish came from and what it has to offer, even as it ceases to be a "living" language.
"Harshav's book is a first-class study of Yiddish as both language and culture, rich with linguistic detail and historical insight, expert in its literary analysis and judgments. I recommend it enthusiastically."
Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York
"The Meaning of Yiddish is the most important contribution to the study of Yiddish language and literature in recent times."
University of California, Berkeley
"The Meaning of Yiddish is explicitly intended for 'readers who bring to it no previous knowledge, only curiosity.' . . . 'My central question,' Harshav writes in the preface, 'is: Yiddish: what was it? What kind of world was it? How can we read the intersections of meaning its texts seem to provide? How did it lead in and out of Jewish history, moving between the internal Jewish world and the cultures of Christian Europe and America?' I know of no other single book in any language which could respond to these questions by conveying to the uninitiated . . . such a richly textured profile of the nature and dynamics of both the Yiddish language and its literature. It is a remarkable feat of high popularization, written with great flair and without a hint of pedantry, its examples always to the point and often memorable in themselves. . . . The book should be read by all who are interested in language, in literature, and in the modern Jewish experience."
—Times Literary Supplement
"I know of no single book in any language which [conveys] such a richly textured profile of the nature and dynamics of both the Yiddish language and its literature. It is a remarkable feat of high popularization, written with great flair and without a hint of pedantry. . . . The book should be read by all who are interested in language."
Times Literary Supplement