Page 126 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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Yiddish version of
Ad irHu
at the end of the famous Prague, 1526,
haggadah is also printed in square type. The Yiddish in
(Venice, 1519)11 is in Sephardic rabbinic, and there may have
been more Yiddish printed in either square type or Sephardic
rabbinic type.12
The first book with
Yiddish Type
that has survived is
the Mirkevet
Sefer shel rabi Anshel,
a Hebrew-Yiddish bible diction­
ary. Why did this book use
Yiddish Type
for the Yiddish compo­
nent, along with square type and conventional rabbinic Hebrew
type? Was it for aesthetics? Was the printer influenced by the
then common custom of non-Jews to use a special type called
“batarde” or “bastarda” for vernacular printing? We cannot yet
answer these questions with any certainty. In any case, Cracow is
where the use of
Yiddish Type
got started, probably in 1534, fortui­
tously perhaps in a dictionary where the differentiation of type
for the two languages seemed both logical and handsome and
where, furthermore, the term
is clearly inappropri­
Yiddish Type
caught on, and, within a few years, it was used in
ence on calling the 1514 alphabet Hebrew is reinforced by Sebastian
Muenster’s woodcut alphabet in his
Chaldaica Grammatica
(Basel, 1527). Figure
13 shows Muenster’s facsimile o f the
alphabet that German Jews use
and o f the Sephardic Hebrew alphabet that Muenster favors. Neither
Boeschenstain nor Muenster thought o f these as alphabets for Yiddish. Call­
ing these alphabets
Yiddish Type
is an anachronism, especially
since Hebrew as well as Yiddish continued to be written in Ashkenazic cursive
well beyond the middle o f the sixteenth century.
11 Described by Isaac Rivkind, “Yidish in hebreishe drukn bizn yor tof
1 (1927): 30-31. By coincidence, I discovered Yiddish, or
German, scattered through
Pesakim ukhetavim
(Venice: Bomberg, 1519) by
Israel Isserlein, also in standard rabbinic type. See, e.g., paragraphs 67, 112
(which includes a discussion o f spelling), 161, etc.
12 The
Mirkevet hamishneh
(Cracow, 1534?) indicates that earlier books in Yiddish
had been printed, but copies have not survived; see Weinreich,
199, Ch. Shmeruk, “Reshimah bibliografit shel defuse Polin beyidish ad
gezerat tav-chet vetav-tet,”
Kiryat Sefer
52 (1977): 383, and A.M. Haberman,
“Hamadpisim bene Chayim Helits,”
Kiryat Sefer
33 (1957/8): 513. Haberman
provides a facsimile o f
Mirkevet hamishneh
on page 513.