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  • Yiddish is the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews. It originated during the 9th century in Central Europe, providing the pre-existing language of the nascent Ashkenazi community with an extensive Germanic based vocabulary. Yiddish is written with a fully vocalized alphabet based on the Hebrew script. The earliest surviving references date from the 12th century and call the language לשון־אַשכּנז or טײַטש, a variant of tiutsch, the contemporary name for Middle High German. In common usage, the language is called מאַמע־לשון, distinguishing it from Hebrew and Aramaic, which are collectively termed לשון־קודש. The term "Yiddish" did not become the most frequently used designation in the literature until the 18th century. In the late 19th and into the 20th century the language was more commonly called "Jewish", especially in non-Jewish contexts, but "Yiddish" is again the more common designation. Modern Yiddish has two major forms. Eastern Yiddish is far more common today. It includes Southeastern, Mideastern, and Northeastern dialects. Eastern Yiddish differs from Western both by its far greater size and by the extensive inclusion of words of Slavic origin.

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