Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
handw r iting s o r to im itate th e typefaces a lready hom ogen ized by
the Ita lian p r in te rs . T h e n o r th e rn p r in te rs d id bo th . Most o f ten ,
the p r in te rs used rabb in ic type th a t is very sim ilar in ap p e a ran c e
to the p reva iling types o f Italy; bu t this aspect is no t g e rm an e to
this essay. Bu t the p r in te rs n o r th o f th e Alps also used fon ts (e.g.,
F igures 5-8) th a t I suspect m atch local hands . T h e se fon ts, each
hav ing some to m any o f the characteristics o f
Y iddish Type,
were all
used fo r Hebrew . T h ey con tinu ed to be used th ro u g h o u t th e six­
te en th cen tu ry , bu t they were ultimately no m a tch fo r th e con ­
q u e r in g Sepha rd ic rabb in ic type. T h e loser in this war o f types,
the Ashkenazic rabbinic, was no t n e ed ed fo r H ebrew ; th a t style
became available fo r Yiddish.
Yiddish Type,
th en , is th a t fam ily o f
A shkenaz ic rabb in ic type th a t fa iled as an a l te r n a te H eb rew
typeface and came to be used almost exclusively fo r Y iddish. T h is
u n d e rs tan d in g implies a rejection o f any no tion th a t th e re was
originally a special type fo r Yiddish, based o r no t based on a spe ­
cial h an d fo r w riting Yiddish.
W hen was Yiddish first p r in ted and when was
Yiddish Type
first
used fo r Yiddish?
T h e r e is considerab le ques tion in my m ind abou t w h e th e r
J o h a n n Boeschenstain shou ld be c red ited with be ing the f irs t to
p r in t Yiddish wo rds9 in 1514; bu t, in any case, those allegedly
Yiddish words a re squa re type (F igu re 9), no t
Yiddish T y p e } 0
T h e
9 Weinreich,
Pintelekh,
p. 196. Weinreich has a full discussion o f Boeschenstain
and Boeschenstain’s little book
Beshem arba otiyot
in
Shtaplen,
pp. 63-72. The
four “Yiddish” words in this 1514 book (Figure 9) are, I believe, German.
Boeschenstain was presenting rules for writing and reading German in
Hebrew characters.
10 The alphabet that Boeschenstain presents in a woodcut (Figure 10) should not
be called
Yiddish Type
or
Vaybertaytsh
as Weinreich (
Sh taplen
,
p. 69) and others
do. (Weinreich also calls it cursive.) In my model, this alphabet is simply Ash­
kenazic rabbinic (or cursive) Hebrew, not
Yiddish Type,
because it is not here
used by Boeschenstain for Yiddish and nothing like it was to be used for
printed Yiddish for twenty years. Boeschenstain wrote some Hebrew on the
title p ageo f one copy
ofJohannReuchlin's
In sep tem psa lm os . . . in terp re ta tio . . .
(Tubingen, 1512). For a facsimile, see A. Freimann, “Johann Boeschenstain’s
Autograph
"Journa l o fJewish B ibliography
2 (1940): 17-19. Figure 6 is a wood-
cut Hebrew colophon by Boeschenstain at the end o f his
Septem p sa lm i
poenitentiales . . . translati
(Augsburg, 1520). Figure 11 has some Hebrew, writ­
ten by Boeschenstain in his grammar
H ebra icae gramm a ticae in stitu tiones
(Witttenberg, 1518). All o f these show the then current Ashkenazic rabbinic
(or cursive) form for Hebrew (and, incidentally, Yiddish). The very title o f
Boeschenstain’s 1514 book (figure 12) is in Hebrew, not Yiddish. My insist-