Yiddish: Gender discrepancies

סייבר־שד

Member
Spanish - Mexico
Hi, I recently noticed that some Yiddish words appear to have a different gender depending on which dictionary I look them up in.

I'm currently using two dictionaries, Weinreich's and Shapiro's. Two examples of what I mentioned above are the words בעט and פֿײַער ("bed" and "fire"), with the former listed as a feminine word in Weinreich's dictionary and neuter in Shapiro's, while the latter is also neuter, according to Shapiro, but actually masculine in Weinreich!

There are also spelling differences between words of Hebrew-Aramaic origin, such as "moon", which is spelled just like in Hebrew in Weinreich's book: לבנה, but adapted to the Yiddish spelling in Shapiro's to make it conform with its actual pronunciation: לעװאָנע.
As I understand it, there's still some debate about that last issue, but frankly that one doesn't bother me half as much as the former. What is the right gender of such words? Is either of the two dictionaries even wrong to begin with?

Cheers!
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Dialectal differences? To my knowledge די בעט is Northern (Lithuanian) and דאס בעט is Southern (Galician). Weinreich's dictionary follows the Lithuanian standard, doesn't it?
     

    סייבר־שד

    Member
    Spanish - Mexico
    Dialectal differences? To my knowledge די בעט is Northern (Lithuanian) and דאס בעט is Southern (Galician). Weinreich's dictionary follows the Lithuanian standard, doesn't it?

    You know, now that you mention it, I'm not sure I've seen anywhere whether he follows the Lithuanian standard or not, but then he was born in Vilna, so I guess it's not exactly far-fetched to assume he did.
    But yeah, you may be right about it being just different dialects. I was also reading that words of Hebrew-Aramaic origin in Yiddish were usually written in the Soviet Union using the phonemic orthography, so that's another doubt cleared. 😉

    Thanks!
     

    Haskol

    Member
    Hebrew, English - US/Canada
    Regarding the spelling, I would consider לעוואנע a mistake. I'm not familiar with Shapiro's dictionary and I'm familiar with the old Soviet style of spelling Yiddish, but I wouldn't recommend using it at all. Loshn Koydesh words in Yiddish should generally be spelled according to their original spelling in their source language (Hebrew or Aramaic) and it's best to follow conventional spelling than the niche and defunct Soviet standard.
     

    סייבר־שד

    Member
    Spanish - Mexico
    Regarding the spelling, I would consider לעוואנע a mistake. I'm not familiar with Shapiro's dictionary and I'm familiar with the old Soviet style of spelling Yiddish, but I wouldn't recommend using it at all. Loshn Koydesh words in Yiddish should generally be spelled according to their original spelling in their source language (Hebrew or Aramaic) and it's best to follow conventional spelling than the niche and defunct Soviet standard.
    Thank you very much for your reply.

    Yes, the more I've thought about it, the more I've become convinced it would be wiser to just stick to the Hebrew-Aramaic spellings. Weinreich's dictionary invariably gives the correct readings of Loshn Koydesh words, anyway, and the fact that I've been making lots of progress with Hebrew lately can't hurt.

    Cheers once more!
     
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