Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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tiates, but English speakers (particularly yeshiva graduates) who
wish to couch their statements in a language that by itself conveys
religious commitment and authority often switch to it and its
accompanying gesticulations for the desired solemnity. Some sit­
uations of religious import are never described in English: a
pious old man does not die, he is
one studies from
not books; people who marry hold a
not a wedding; etc.
The Yiddish influence on the development of Yinglish can not be
overestimated, but other factors are also at play and in need of
Many Orthodox publications are written in English, some in
very fine English, but I am quite sure that this is done out of expe­
diency rather than any appreciation of or devotion to the esthe­
tics of English usage. To date, little publishing, and even less book
length publishing, has been done in Yinglish, and it is unclear if
exceptions should be seen as protestation of greater sanctity and
more authenticity, rejection of English as an inappropriate vehi­
cle, or evidence of closer ties to the Yiddish world of the yeshivot.
All three may be correct.
I am not sure to what extent these socio-religious values will
eventually strengthen or curtail the use of English for Orthodox
publication. No one could have anticipated the present, extensive
use of English, and the quality of what is made available is con­
stantly improving. But I do believe that many years (at least
another generation) will pass before English will be used for the
production of major new Orthodox religious writings. Yiddish
and Yinglish remain the languages o f religious discourse;
Hebrew, the language of religious writing. And, despite the neg­
ative feelings about Israel that are harboured by some Orthodox
Jews, the availability of models of Jewish languages and vernacu­
lars (Aramaic, Judeo-Arabic, Yiddish, German, Russian and
French) used by earlier generations of Jewish writers, and the
success with which Orthodox scholars use English, Hebrew will
remain the literary language o f the American Jewish Orthodoxy,
at least for its publications of lasting worth.