Yiddish is the language of the Ashkenazi Jews, and is relatively new, having been created around the 9th century. It should not be confused with Hebrew or Aramaic, as it has Germanic roots instead of the Semitic roots of the other two languages. The language is sometimes referred to as Jewish, although Yiddish still remains the more common name.
It is not known how many people around the world speak Yiddish, but some figures have put the number at around 1.5 to 3 million. There are two forms of the language today, with Eastern Yiddish being the more popular over Western Yiddish due to its size and larger vocabulary. Each form of Yiddish has 3 different dialects. Yiddish is often used in many Orthodox Jewish societies around the world, and Hasidic Jews also use the language for home, school, and socialization.
The Yiddish alphabet relies on the Hebrew script, but uses unique Yiddish spelling rules. Letters that are originally silent or are stops in the Hebrew language are used as vowels in the Yiddish language. Other phonetic differences include the usage of adjacent silent characters, and the usage of pointing, or diacritical marks.
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