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How Do You Say ‘Email’ in Yiddish?

Some entries in the newly released Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary, which is designed to carry Yiddish into the 21st century. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

Some entries in the newly released Comprehensive English-Yiddish Dictionary, which is designed to carry Yiddish into the 21st century. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

The New York Times

In a thousand-year-old language like Yiddish, with many of its words rooted in the ancient Bible, how would you say “email”? Or “transgender”? Or “designated driver”? Or “binge watch”?

Those terms came into popular usage long after the language’s heyday, when it was the lingua franca of the Jews of Eastern Europe and the garment workers of the Lower East Side and was the chosen literary tongue for writers like Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Though the Holocaust and assimilation have shrunk the ranks of Yiddish speakers — once put at over 11 million worldwide — to a relative handful, Yiddish still needs to keep itself fashionably up-to-date.

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