Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nobel Prize, I.B. Singer, and Yiddish

Thinking about the Nobel Prize in literature and about the “Last Words” article mentioned recently, I recalled Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Nobel speech of 1978. Singer wrote in what was considered a dying language – that is, Yiddish – and in his speech he referred to what is important and special about his language.

Among other things, he said: “Yiddish has not yet said its last word. It contains treasures that have not been revealed to the eyes of the world. It was the tongue of martyrs and saints, of dreamers and Cabalists – rich in humor and in memories that mankind may never forget. In a figurative way, Yiddish is the wise and humble language of us all, the idiom of frightened and hopeful Humanity.”

Yiddish – along with many other languages – has not yet said its last words. As I said in my post about the “Last Words” article, we simply shouldn’t let that happen.

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