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Yiddish is a language spoken primarily by Jews of eastern European descent. Unlike other West-Germanic languages, Yiddish is a fusion language comprising mainly Germanic, Hebrew/Aramaic, and Slavic components, featuring a Hebrewderived orthography. There are an estimated 500,000 native speakers of Yiddish, with the largest communities in Israel, the United States, and Russia, although reliable statistics are difficult to ascertain due to the reluctance of certain orthodox groups to participate in censuses. The figure represents a significant decline from its peak of 11 million speakers at the outbreak of World War II, 7–8 million of whom lived in eastern Europe.

Philologists trace the origins of Yiddish to the 11th century. Max Weinreich argued that Yiddish emerged when Judeo-Romance–speaking Jews encountered Germanic tribes in the Upper Rhine Valley. ...

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