JIDDISCH - YIDDISH - Transliteration YIVO

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Jüdische Weisheit


ùéãéé - ùéãéà


1. What follows is a simplified version of the romanization (transcription) convention developed by YIVO. It is easy to use, once you have gotten the hang of it - not a daunting task.
The scheme is quite straightforward, and it provides a uniform way to write ''any'' Yiddish word in any Yiddish dialect; if you can say it, you can write it, and be sure that readers will know just how you're saying it. What more can be asked of a transcription scheme?

2. The first column gives the names of the Yiddish letters and letter-combinations; the second column gives their approximate sound equivalents, for the most part in English; be warned that some of the English examples will be interpreted differently by native speakers of English from various dialect regions. The third column illustrates the transcription with Yiddish words. (The letters in square brackets in the first column occur only in words derived from Hebrew or Aramaic; their transcription in the third column is preceded by [H].) Writers not familiar with the Yiddish alphabet can ignore the first column altogether.

3. Note that the consonants and most of the vowels are pronounced in much the way that some other European languages pronounce them. There are a few possible exceptions, arising out of dialectal differences. For example: the Yiddish word for "good" is ALWAYS spelled giml-vov-tes, and the table shows that the Standard pronunciation of the vov (except when it's at the end of a syllable) is like the u in English "put"; so the Standard pronunciation is /gut/, rhyming with English "put". But the dialects of many native speakers call for pronouncing this vov as /i/, and these speakers would say and transcribe the word as /git/; such variants are welcome on Mendele.

4. The diphthongs may require some thought at first; /ey/ romanizes the sound in "Hey!" or "grey"; /ay/ stands for the sound of the "ay" in "Mayan" or the "y" in "my"; and /oy/ transcribes the "oi" sound in "oil" or "noise" (so the familiar expression of complaint or pain or surprise is romanized /oy vey/, and the Standard Yiddish for "my mother" is written /mayn mame/.)

5. Note that the shtumer (silent) alef has no sound equivalent or transcription. In Yiddish, it is written at the beginning of words before the vowels and diphthongs pronounced /u/, /oy/, /i/, /ey/, and /ay/.


shtumer alef (silent)
pasekh alef a as in father a in gas 'street'
komets alef o as in sort o in yorn 'years'
u as in hut o in hot 'has'
vov u as in put u in un 'and'
oo as in goo
(syllable-final) u in du 'you'
yud [Between i as in fit i in tish 'table'
and ee as in feet]
[closer to feet] i in zi 'she'
tsvey yudn (2 yuds)  ey as in grey ey in eynikl 'grandchild'
pasekh tsvey yudn y as in sky ay in fayer 'fire'
vov yud oy as in boy oy in moyl 'mouth'
ayen e as in end e in entfer 'answer'


beys or beyz b as in ball b in brem 'eyebrow'
[veys or veyz] v as in heavy [H] v in mazl-tov 'congratulations'
tsvey vovn (2 vovs) " v in vursht 'salami'
giml g as in give g in gornisht 'nothing'
daled d as in done d in dorf 'village'
hey h as in hot h in hungerik 'hungry'
zayen z as in zebra z in zumer 'summer'
[khes] ch as in German
"achtung" [H] kh in bokher 'young man'
khof " kh in khapn 'to catch'
tes t as in time t in tuml 'noise'
[tof] " [H] t in toyre 'Torah'
yud (before a vowel) y as in yet y in yagdes 'berries'
[kof] k as in kill [H] k in kosher 'kosher'
kuf " k in kamf 'struggle'
lamed l as in lake l in luft 'air'
mem m as in mark m in mentsh 'person'
nun n as in neck n in nudnik 'bore'
samekh s as in self s in samet 'velvet'
[sin] " [H] s in soyne 'enemy'
[sof] " [H] s in toes 'error'
pey p as in pack p in ponim 'face'
fey f as in fence f in frish 'fresh'
tsadek ts as in fruits ts in nayntsik 'ninety'
reysh r as in French r in royt 'red'
shin sh as in show sh in shande 'shame'
zayen shin s as in measure zh in zhuk 'beetle'
daled zayen shin j as in jump dzh in dzhez 'jazz'
tes shin ch as in chair tsh in kvetshn 'to squeeze'

* I.e., trilling either the tip of the tongue or the uvula.

Some General Points (adapted from Zellig Bach, Mendele 4.102)

Each letter (or letter combination) in the third column has a specific sound. Remember that the YIVO scheme is meant to be efficient, unambiguous and easy to use; unnecessary letters just confuse the reader.


1. No double consonants; they don't tell you anything. Write: ale, alemen, bobe, feder, got [God], shabes, yidish (NOT alle, allemen, bobbe, fedder, gott, shabbes, yiddish).

2. Excise the puste (empty) h's, since they provide no additional information: No "h" after the stressed vowel in words of German origin. Write: amol, yor, geyn, shteyn (NOT amohl, yohr, gehn, shtehn). And no "h"s after the final vowel in words of Hebrew or Slavic origin; they don't add any information either. Write: khale, kale, khevre, metsie, take (NOT khaleh, kaleh, khevreh, metsieh, takeh).

3. Skip the shtume (silent) e's: Write: bisl, fargesn, gutn, lakhn, zisn, shtetl (NOT bisel, fargesen, guten, lakhen, zisen, shtetel).

Quelle: In einem CompuServe Forum dankenswerterweise zur Verfügung gestellt von einer uns leider nicht namentlich bekannten Person. Falls sich jemand an eine deutsche Übersetzung machen möchte - nur zu!


JIDISH im 'Offenen Forum'

Galuth Ashkenas

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