Back in 2004 I posted about a book (online at that link in both Yiddish and English) by the last editor of Haynt, a pre-WWII Yiddish newspaper in Warsaw that “chronicles the history of Jewish life in Poland between 1908 and 1939.” Now the newspaper itself is online, thanks to the Historical Jewish Press Site, which “contains a collection of Jewish newspapers published in various countries, languages, and time periods. We display digital versions of each newspaper, making it possible to view the papers in their original layout. Full-text search is also available for all content published over the course of each newspaper’s publication.” This Forward article by Shoshana Olidort describes it:

Founded in Warsaw in 1908, Haynt was the most widely read Yiddish newspaper in Eastern Europe, with a readership numbering in the tens of thousands. In addition to news reporting and columns on everything from humor to women’s issues, Haynt featured highbrow literary works by prominent writers like Sholem Aleichem and Hirsch Dovid Nomberg, as well as the more popular serialized shundromanen, or trash novels.

The political turmoil of the era, beginning with the outbreak of World War I, dramatically altered the scope of the paper, which for a time cut back to the bare bones of news reporting. Still, despite heavy censorship, the paper continued to be published (albeit under different names, including Nayer haynt and Der Tog), even after the outbreak of World War II. The final issue appeared on September 22, 1939, just days before Warsaw surrendered.

Olidort finishes by saying that “the next Yiddish paper to be added to the site is Literariche Bletter, which was also published in Warsaw in the 1920s and ’30s,” and adds her hope “that one day this will be true of the Forverts, too.” (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. marie-lucie says

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the meaning of Haynt and Nayer haynt?

  2. (New) Today.

  3. It reminds me of German heute and its various dialectal forms, but I couldn’t account for the “n”.
    According to Grimm, in OHG there were hiutu and hiuto, a combined form of hiu tagu “on this day”. In MHG and still in the 16C heute meant “the light time”, while hinaht, heinacht, heint meant “the night time”. You even find heute diesen Tag and heinte diese Nacht
    The entry says this division of the day is from the viewpoint of a “bürgerlich” person. I don’t quite understand what that means – perhaps not farmers, whose days often begin and end in the dark.

  4. Brian Hillcoat says

    Grumbly: ‘das bürgerliche Jahr’ is really a technical astronomical term, equivalent to ‘Kalenderjahr’. As you know, there are all kinds of ways of measuring the passage of a ‘year’, and in German there are (z.B., and without going into their meanings) ‘siderisches Jahr’, ‘Sonnenjahr’, ‘anomalistisches Jahr’, usw. usf. I only came across this myself a year or two ago and was extremely puzzled. I’m no astronomer and am merely quoting the handy 2-vol. ‘Lexikon der Astronomie’.

  5. Thanks, Brian ! I just knew there was something wrong with my taking “bürgerlich” to refer to a social category. What Grimm says doesn’t actually say anything about persons:

    die bedeutung desselben scheint zunächst eine engere gewesen zu sein und nur die lichtzeit eines bürgerlichen tages umfaszt zu haben, …

    A 1995 two-volume second-hand edition of Lexikon der Astronomie is available at amazon.de for 3.99 EUR, so I ordered it.

  6. So these are, what? civic days and years rather than bourgeois days and years?

  7. You may just be joking, but the point is that bürgerlich here is not a social category, so it has nothing to do with contrasts between citoyens and bourgeois.
    Brian pointed out that bürgerlich, as I had encountered it in the expression eines bürgerlichen Tages in the Grimm entry, is a reference to the Bürgerliches Jahr = calendar year. I had never heard this term. The reference to it in the entry for heute seems irrelevantly learnèd. It’s unlikely that if it had been omitted someone might have imagined that heute refers to an astronomical day.

  8. marie-lucie says

    In French I think that apart from astronomical terms such as l’année sidérale, there are also l’année civile (the calendar year), l’année liturgique (the religious calendar), l’année scolaire (the school year), and others. All these refer to divisions of the year according to particular periods of activity and rest relevant for various social groups. I would guess that l’année civile is the equivalent of das bürgerliche Jahr, the neutral one for most people.

  9. Stu, to me “bürgerlich” primarily suggests a social category (the same as “bourgeois”). Based on what I heard here, I guessed that it might also mean something else, not a category of people or social roles but what I tried to express in English as “civic”. Shorthand for, I don’t know, “of or pertaining to the state, or the city, or the city-state, or the society, or the community”, or something.

  10. Those interested in Haynt might also find useful the Index to Yiddish Periodicals, http://yiddish-periodicals.huji.ac.il/

  11. The English equivalent of bürgerliches Jahr is civil year (not civic) and both terms mean the year as defined by the legislated Gregorian calendar, as opposed to the various astronomical definitions of year.

  12. It is gradually becoming clear to me that bürgerlich here, as in Bürgerliches Jahr, is a “historico-legal” term. I call it that from ignorance of a more suitable term for the term.
    Apparently off-topic but not really: the IT trade abounds with abbreviations like POI, SOA, JAXB. Most of my colleagues don’t care to know what is being abbreviated, but I always want to know. Otherwise I frequently can’t remember what the subject is in each case. The abbreviations become idola fori or ritual stand-ins for sense, and it’s all too easy to waffle with them without understanding much.
    Still on-topic: I know that the BGB is the German civil code but, not being particularly interested in law, when I hear or read “BGB” I usually don’t immediately translate it in my head as Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch. German law is based on the sixth-century Roman corpus iuris civilis, and bürgerlich here is simply the word that stands in for civilis.
    According to the Bürgerliche Gesellschaft article in my Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie, Aristotle introduced the term koinonia politon into philosphy, rendered in German as bürgerliche Gesellschaft. This last expression has undergone many changes in meaning over the centuries. More familiar to me are only the social and political meanings of bürgerlich over the last two centuries. I yet know jackshit about the history of these ideas, but I am motivated now to find out more.

  13. By the way, I downloaded the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch and searched it for bürgerlich. The word occurs only about 12 times, and always as part of the expression Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (or, once, in die bürgerliche Ehe, a special section dealing with civil marriage). It is never used with any of the sociological and political connotations that the term bürgerlich had in the 19th and 20th centuries.
    So, as Gary says, bürgerliches Jahr is the “civil year”, or “calendar year” as we call it in everyday English. It’s called Kalenderjahr in everyday German.
    Note the annoying difference in spelling that I often forget: Kalender with an “e”, but “calendar” with an “a”. The German Kalender can mean both of the things that the English “calendar” and “calender” mean.

  14. Is there really an English word “calender”? Let’s look it up. Oh, are we talking about the lark, the weevil, or the dervish?

  15. Isn’t calender Kalander due to some odd conservation of vowels?

  16. A problem with the automated nature of Wordnik: the “Examples” in the right column of Ø’s link are all misspellings of calendar.

  17. What problem ? In the left-hand “Definitions” column we find the item “common misspelling of calendar”. Examples of this appear in the right-hand “Examples” column.
    The “Examples” column shows only the first 10 items. I checked them all, and all are of the misspelling kind.
    I’m not so sure that automation to blame for this. More likely is the explanation that few people know any “calender” apart from a misspelled “calendar”, if they know even that.

  18. The entries and examples at Wordnik are not automatically created, according to the following section I found at the “About” link:

    Wordnik shows definitions from multiple sources, so you can see as many different takes on a word’s meaning as possible. For more information about the sources of our dictionary definitions, please see the Colophon page.
    Wordnik doesn’t yet allow user-contributed definitions. If you’d like to add a definition, you can log in and leave a comment….
    We try to show as many real examples as possible for each word. These examples are ranked by how useful we think they are in helping you understand the meaning of a particular word, especially words that may not have traditional dictionary definitions.

  19. I see what they say (“We try to show as many real examples as possible for each word. These examples are ranked by how useful we think they are in helping you understand the meaning of a particular word, especially words that may not have traditional dictionary definitions”), but I don’t believe it. I think they’re automatically generated. It makes no sense to give a bunch of examples of a misspelling and none of the proper senses of the word; how does that help anyone understand anything?

  20. I am torn between the élan de vie that springs from contradicting you, and the petite mort of joining in to lay a charge of fraud against Wordnik. I admit that I don’t believe their claim either. But if the internet is not to be believed, where will we place our hope this side the grave ?

  21. Ah, there you have me!

  22. Ek trúi á sjálfan mik — but the Internet helps quite a bit.

  23. I’m really glad you revived this post, because I discovered the main links were throwing 404s; fortunately, the Historical Jewish Press website is still around, just with new URLs, and I was able to fix the links. (You’d think they’d have made the old links redirect; if Songdog could do it for LH…)

  24. David Marjanović says

    I had no idea German ever had a single word for “tonight”…

  25. To provide the context from Tattúínárdǿla saga (though of course it is an ancient trope that occurs elsewhere):

    “Trúirðu þá á nekkvat?” spyrr Lúkr Hana.

    “Já víst,” svarar Hólmgǫngu-Hani, “Ek trúi á sjálfan mik. Ok á øxi mína.” En svá segjandi setti hann øxina í lyfstein Víga-Óbívans, ok brast steinninn í sundr. “Goð ok gæfa eru gagnlaus, hafirðu góða øxi á hlíð, sveinn.”

    This is the end of Chapter 27, just after Killer-Óbívan first trains Lukr to fight using the sword Ljósamæki inn grœna while wearing a helmet backwards so that he cannot see his opponent.

  26. David Marjanović says

    Now I want to learn Old Norse just to understand the other half of the vocabulary. What’s with all these oxen?


    Because he went there first.

  27. David Marjanović says

    Turns out it’s on TV Tropes. And yes, he did go there first.

  28. Trond Engen says

    Tattúínárdǿla saga

    Genius. There’s a link to the ON version at the end of the introduction, before the start of the English translation..

    The story as presented in George Lucas’s films represents only one manuscript tradition, and a rather late and corrupt one at that – the Middle High German epic called Himelgengærelied (Song of the Skywalkers). There is also an Old High German palimpsest known to scholars, later overwritten by a Latin choral and only partly legible to us today, which contains fragments of a version wherein “Veitare” survives to old age after slaying “Lûc” out of loyalty to the emperor, but is naturally still conflicted about the deed when the son of his daughter Leia avenges the killing on him.

    Keeping it at one link, if you click through to the next post, it’s The Cowboy Hávamál, a stunning (to my ear) rendering of the first 79 (or so) stanzas of Hávamál in Western American.

    1. Use yer eyes,
    and never walk blind.
    There ain’t no tellin’
    where there’s someone waitin’
    to put one over on you.

    2. Don’t be unkind to a wanderer.
    You know the type: Waiting,
    proud, outside your doorstep.
    Give ‘im a break,
    and let ‘im in.

    3. Let ‘im get close to the fire,
    and have a chance
    to dry his clothes.
    He’s been walkin’ in the mountains,
    and that wears a man down.

    4. You know what he’s lookin’ for:
    Some clothes to change into,
    a few kind words, not too many,
    a chance to tell his story,
    a chance to hear what you’ll say.

    And so on. Read the whole thing. Or listen to Dr. Joackson Crawford reading it himself.

    And I knew I knew his name from somewhere. Turns out he’s running a Facebook page I’m following for the poetry of Norwegian poet Olav H. Hauge (1908-94).

  29. Trond Engen says

    I was so eager to quote Hávamál that I forgot the saga. But it gives me the luxury of another link. In this pdf it’s in parallel ON and English versions:

    I. Kapítuli: Frá Jóða jarli Gormóarsyni
    JÓÐI HÉT MAÐR, sonr Gormóar. Jóði var maðr lítill, en svá sterkr, at eigi váru hans jafningjar. En er hann var á unga aldri, lá hann í víkingu ok herjaði. Með honum var í félagsskap sá maðr, er kallaðr var Vindú, gǫfugr maðr ok inn mesti afreksmaðr at afli ok áræði. Hann var berserkr. Þeir Jóði áttu einn sjóð báðir, ok var með þeim in kærsta vinátta. Jóði átti einn son. Hét hann Dúkú. Dúkú var svartr maðr ok ljótr, líkr feðr sínum bæði yfirlits ok at skaplyndi. Gerðist hann umsýslumaðr mikill. Hann var hagr maðr á tré ok járn ok gerðist inn mesti smiðr.

    Chapter 1: Concerning Jarl Jóði Gormóarson
    JÓÐI WAS THE NAME OF A MAN, son of Gormó. Jóði was a little man, but so strong that none was his equal. When he was young, he went a-viking and raided. With him in friendship was that man who was named Vindú, a noble man and the most valiant in strength and daring. He was a berserker. He and Jóði were in good agreement about everything, and there was the greatest friendship between them. Jóði had one son. He was named Dúkú. Dúkú was a black-haired man and ugly, like his father both in appearance and in manners. He became a very active man. He was skilled in wood and iron, and became the greatest smith.

  30. David Marjanović says

    Jothi Gormoarson had powers of prophecy, but Meis Vindusson was a man of magical skill. He made a new hand for Anakinn, and this hand was made of silver. Then he set this hand on Anakinn’s arm, and cast a spell over him:

    “Bone to bone, blood to blood,
    Limb to limb, so be they linked.”

    I feel like spinning with laughter.

  31. What’s with all these oxen?

    For whatever reason, the North Germanic words for ‘axe/Axt’ are all front rounded: Is Fa øxi, No øks, Da økse, and in Sw it goes so far as to be yxa. I thought I would look at ankle as perhaps a comparable word, and it’s Is ökkli, but Da Sw No ankel, which I’m guessing is < LG Enkel. Go figure.

    Because he went there first.

    He’s called “Hani the Duelist” from his first introduction in Chapter 17, well before his battle with Grídó or even his arrival at Jabbi’s court.

  32. Trond Engen says

    The “ankle” and “axe” words are quite different.

    Bjorvand & Lindeman takes ‘axe’ back to PGmc *akWisi: f. The different attested reflexes would then come out of the different umlaut mechanisms in the different branches. The Scandinavian ø is a result of a > e > ø by first i-breaking and then w-breaking. The word has no known etymology outside Germanic.

    Ankel m. is the Danish and Swedish form. ON had ökli m. and ökla n., archaic Nynorsk has okla n., while some Norw. dialects have okkul m. Of these the masculines are from the a-stem *ankula- while the neuter is from an n-stem *ankulan-. As if this wasn’t enough of a mess, OHG has ankala f. < *ankalo:- and enkil m. < *ankila-. To me that looks like either a borrowing or an original adjective,

  33. David Marjanović says

    The word has no known etymology outside Germanic.

    It might; following up on a LLog thread after it was closed, I once got a Facebook message that proposed one. I’ll have to dig that up.

    As if this wasn’t enough of a mess, OHG has ankala f. < *ankalo:- and enkil m. < *ankila-.

    Perhaps that’s why we’ve lost both. 🙂 (Also, Enkel now means “grandson”.)

  34. fortunately, the Historical Jewish Press website is still around, just with new URLs, and I was able to fix the links.

    Now those links are also dead; theoretically, the Historical Jewish Press website is now at http://www.nli.org.il, but since that site is down I decided to replace them with archived links from a decade ago instead. You’d think they’d do better.

  35. Perhaps that’s why we’ve lost both. 🙂 (Also, Enkel now means “grandson”.)
    Actually, Enkel “ankle” still exists as a regional word; it was in use on my mother’s side of the family, but I can’t narrow it down whether its Eastern Prussian, Thuringian, or from the Rhineland.

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