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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Following The Trail

It’s not that I’m easily distracted, it’s that I become very focused on a task. Sometimes, said task, causes me to head to Google. That leads me to follow promising leads, backtrack, regroup and follow new leads - bookmarking wildly as I go. Which is how I ended up at the Library of Congress tonight, after I had begun on eBay, entering the search word: “Yiddish”. It was at the LOC where I found this graphically beautiful Works Progress Administration (WPA) poster which struck me as intensely poignant. It was published sometime between 1936 and 1941 in New York City, urging Yiddish speaking adult immigrants to attend: “Free classes in English! Learn to speak, read, & write the language of your children!” It was practical, well intentioned and even generous. But at that same moment in time, across the Atlantic, one out of every two Yiddish speakers in the world were in the process of being eliminated from the planet.

3 comments:

dancingmorganmouse said...

It is, sadly, the story of so very many languages that have come into contact with the ubiquitous English.

Pink Granite said...

Hi DMM -
You're right about the power of English. And I recognize the need to become bilingual in one's new country. It was the juxtaposition of the phrase "the language of your children" with the horror of the war which really hit me hard.
- Lee

dancingmorganmouse said...

Horrible isn't it, the loss of language? I don't think they even know how many we lost in Australia since Europeans arrived.