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The Holocaust and Yiddish

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Event Information

20th November, 2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Birkbeck, University of London
Miriam Schulz, Columbia University

It is a truism that language is power. What is similarly true and painfully current, is George Orwell’s assessment that ‘when the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer’. In the US and Germany, indeed globally, far-right rhetoric is gaining traction, radicalizing the political discourse, and inculcating the public in ways that are eerily reminiscent of much darker times – those of some 80 years ago. The impact of Nazism on victims’ languages has found comparatively little scholarly attention so far. Drawing on several lexicographical projects of Yiddish which trace its linguistic mutations under Nazi persecution, Miriam Schulz discusses the phenomenon of so-called khurbn-Yiddish (Holocaust-Yiddish) as a key to retracing Jewish culture in extremis.

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