So, Jewish languages other than Hebrew are all endangered, and even Hebrew many of us don’t speak. So, in honor of Preservation Day, I’ve gathered a bunch of language resources, and hopefully we’ll be able to learn our heritage languages more easily, as well as Hebrew, both biblical for the Torah, and modern for trips (or flight, as necessary) to Israel.
I’ll start with a request for help from the people who DO know these languages: the website duolingo has both Yiddish and Hebrew projects that need people to help them work. It seems like a very effective language learning site, and it would help us preserve our languages. And if someone capable of doing so started up a Ladino project, or any of the various Judeo-Arabic languages (I apologize, I know basically nothing about them) it would be great!
Next up is My Language Exchange. This is a very versatile site that seems mostly to be about matching up people learning each others’ languages as pen pals. There’s a little bit more structure, but it’s only available for the biggest languages. However, and this is a BIG plus, it has people who speak Hebrew, Yiddish and Ladino all, and I’ve had trouble finding any websites that even acknowledge Ladino.
So, for all that I know nothing about Judeo-Arabic and little about Ladino, Ancient/Biblical Hebrew is pretty mysterious to me. I never went to Hebrew school, so anything here is good. Right now, the only thing I have is a couple of posts from an old, abandoned tumblr (to an extent, it’s been replaced by tumblrs like littlegoythings, returnofthejudai and jewish-privilege)
So, here’s a post about how Hebrew was written and pronounced in ancient times compared to today, and another on German’s influence on Hebrew pronunciation, that might fit better in the next section.
Now, Modern Hebrew, being the language of an actual, geopolitically important country is the easiest to find resources for. In addition to Rosetta Stone, which is quite expensive (though my Dad swears by it, in six months he’s reading Israeli newspapers) there’s a free site run by them, Live Mocha, which includes Hebrew.
Thanks to all the resources available, Hebrew language learning resources have already been collected. A couple of places that do that are Omniglot, Fluent Forever, and Ecott. And then there’s the online parts of the Hebrew programs at UT Austin and Yale.
And then there’s Surface Languages and Transparent, for just straight up language learning.
And now, into the Diaspora! There are tons of Diaspora languages, but not all of them have their own names. The biggest one, though, is Judeo-German, better known now as Yiddish. It’s been a very active language, and had a cultural golden age in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Yiddish Academy collects Yiddish resources that will be helpful whatever path to learning the language you take. For learning, there’s some traditional web courses at eTeacherYiddish, Surface Languages and Transparent.
And then, of course, there’s YiddishPop! I haven’t looked in detail at it, but YiddishPop seems to be all about learning Yiddish in a fun online environmentm, with lots of games and stuff.
Ladino, unfortunately, doesn’t have nearly the support that Hebrew and Yiddish do. Fortunately, while I was looking for resources, @concentratedridiculousness responded to me and made a nice big post about Ladino, though most of the resources aren’t online.