Sunday, June 13, 2010

David Shneer. Yiddish and the Creation of Soviet Jewish Culture. 1918-1930

P.91: In 1825, there were only 583 titles produced in the Russian Empire, 323 (55 percent) of'l )of which were in Russian. By 1860, the total number of books had risen to 2085, and by 1895, there vere 11,548 titles published in the Empire, 8,728 (76 percent) of which were in Russian.9 Jeffrey Brooks, When Russia Learned to Read (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 985), pp. 59-62,92.

P.84: In December 1929, Moshe Kamenshteyn published an article in the Kharkov newspaper Shtern in favor of Latinizing Yiddish. He argued that Soviet Jews...

P.86: Another factor in Latinization was the role played by Semen Dimanshteyn, an important state-level figure in the general Soviet Ladnization campaign, a longime Bolshevik, and founder ofthe Yiddish Party paper Emes. Dimanshteyn, member of the Council of Nationalities, was a key figure in the Central Asian Latinization campaign. As liaison between the Soviet Yiddish intelligentsia and the Communist Party, he also ensured the continued existence of Yiddish language cultural activities. Since Dimanshteyn had the power to push through inization for other languages, the fact that he did not use this power on Yiddish shows that he used his influence to prevent it from taking place.121 With Litvakov and Shtifs (and most likely Dimanshteyn's) influence, Latinization was cen ofF the agenda just as quickly as it was put on. The issue was addressed ice more in February 1932, in an article by Shtifand Elye Spivak who came against Latinization, and by Zaretsky who published an article in a Russianguagejournal favoring Latinization.122 122. See Shtif and Spivak, "Vegn Latinizatsie," and I.Zaretsky, "K probleme latinizatsii vreiskogo pis'ma," Revoliutsiia i pis'mennost', Jan.-Feb., 1932 (no.1-2), pp.15-32. The issue then died.

In 1934, long after the discussion of Latinizadon of Yiddish and in the Soviet Union more generaly had passed, the only Yiddish book to be published in Union more generally had passed, the only Yiddish book to be published in Soviet Union appeared.123 Greenbaum, Jewish Scholarship, p.111. In my research, I have found no other Latinized Yiddish book published in the Soviet Union. That same year, Ben Tsiyon Ben Yehuda (also known as Itamar Ben Avi), the son of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, considered by some of the father of modern Hebrew, began publishing a Hebrew newspaper in Jerusalem in Latin letters.124 Benjamin Harshav, Language in Time of Revolution (Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), P.107. The Latinized Soviet Yiddish book, The Folklore of Yiddish Music (Jidisher Muzik-Folklor), was published by the Institute for Jewish Proletarian Culture in Kiev under the editorship of Meir Viner, who took over after Shtif died. The author offered an explanation for the choice. "This book 87 is appearing in two languages - in Yiddish and Russian. In Yiddish we are printing it with a Latin transcription, because in the given circumstances, it is technicaly easier. Aside from that, we had in mind the decision of the Central Orthographic Commission that said that scholarly publications must gradually adopt the new Latin alphabet."135 Since music was a special case when Latinizing aade the most sense, it is easy to understand why the only Latin Yiddish book was a book of songs. But the editors also Latinized to make a statement, and their reference to a COC decision suggests that this might have been a last ditch effort to prove that Latinization could have worked. By 1934, the Soviet Union was moving away from Latinizatioon. The moment for a Latin Yiddish had passed.

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