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Modern Yiddish Language Acquisition 1

Open Programma

Yiddish was at one time the international language of Ashkenazic Jews (the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe and their descendants).

A hybrid of Hebrew and medieval German, Yiddish takes about three-quarters of its vocabulary from German, but borrows words liberally from Hebrew and many other languages from the many lands where Ashkenazic Jews have lived. It has a grammatical structure all its own, and is written in an alphabet based on Hebrew characters.

  • The goal of this course is to help beginning students develop skills in Yiddish conversation, reading and writing. Yiddish is the medium of a millennium of Jewish life. We will frequently have reason to refer to the history and culture of Ashkenazi Jewry in studying the language.
  • In this module you will start by learning the Hebrew alphabet and you will learn about the morphology and syntax of modern Yiddish, focusing on verbs and constructing simple sentences.
  • In this course, you will also learn about the treasures of Yiddish culture through songs, literature, folklore, and films.

Upon completion of this module you will have:

  • basic reading and writing skills in modern Yiddish
  • basic knowledge of the morphology and syntax of modern Yiddish

You may improve your Yiddish by signing up to Modern Yiddish Language Acquisition 2 in February - March 2024.

Time, location and price

  • 7 November - 14 December 2023
  • Tuesday from 17:00-19:00 and Thursday from 13:00-15:00 
  • Location: P.C. Hoofthuis 1.05 (Tuesday) and 1.04 (Thursday)
  • Costs: € 210 (€ 189 AUV members)

Important to know

  • The registration deadline has passed; it is no longer possible to register for this course.
  • Active participation and weekly homework assignments are compulsary.
  • You are expected to have a sufficient level of digital literacy and skills.
  • The language of instruction is English. In case all students have a command of Dutch, Dutch will be used as a second language of instruction.
  • You can only audit an OUC, which means that you may only attend lectures and cannot take part in the examination, or obtain ECTS credits.
  • The location of the lectures may change during the semester. For the current study schedule, please consult the UvA timetable website. 

Study material

The instruction of the Yiddish language skills will be based on sources and materials from a variety of Modern Yiddish Language Acquisition books, which will be provided to the students on Canvas. You are not required to buy any study books at this point.

Usage of Yiddish Dictionaries

Access to a Yiddish dictionary is critical in this course. You will need to consult it on a regular basis. You can acquire a physical dictionary, or you may acquire access to online dictionaries at a special student fare. All the relevant information will be given in our first class.


D. (Daniella) Zaidman-Mauer

Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Capaciteitsgroep Semitische talen en culturen

Prof. dr. I.E. (Irene) Zwiep

Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen

Capaciteitsgroep Semitische talen en culturen

Public programme Humanities

This Open UvA Course is part of the Faculty of Humanities' public programme. Beside Open UvA Courses, the public programme also comprises special lectures and series of courses. The public programme is intended for alumni, employees looking for extra training, and all others who are interested in art, culture, philosophy, language and literature, history and religion.

Feiten & cijfers
Open UvA-college
Nederlands, Engels