"If we do talk, we never speak in Yiddish."
Yiddish WWI Poster
Public DomainYiddish WWI Poster - Credit: Charles Edward Chambers/Wikimedia Commons

Yiddish is the language of Leo Gursky’s childhood, and although he says Yiddish words “became strangers to us”, they are transliterated into the Latin alphabet and used throughout the chapters written from his point of view (see glossary).

Yiddish, which means “Jewish”, originates from the Ashkenazi Jewish culture that populated 10th century Rhineland. The language is a combination of German dialects with Hebrew, Slavic, Aramaic and Romance languages.

Yiddish is written in the Hebrew alphabet and is still used in Orthodox Jewish communities throughout the world.