Trung-Yiddish translation

As I mentioned in a previous post, recently anthropologists have pointed to the need to highlight issues of concern, especially in the public media. I suggested that linguists are ahead of the game here, and doing fairly well at “express[ing] their views in public forums, including the popular press”.

The media sharing site YouTube is now being used by various language groups, and by researchers, to present materials in, and highlight issues about, endangered languages. Possibly one of the most unusual contributions is a video report produced by Ross (aka. Shmuel) Perlin, who completed the MA in Language Documentation and Description at SOAS in 2006 and is now a PhD student at Leiden University. Ross is doing fieldwork in Yunan province in south-west China on the Trung language, a Tibeto-Burman tongue spoken by a few thousand farmers and related to Rawang and Nu. Ross/Shmuel Perlin’s video describes and illustrates his research and is in Yiddish with English subtitles. One of the most charming sections is his Yiddish (and English) translation of a Trung ghost story.



  1. Gerardo Barbera says:

    In Italy they don’t even know what an endangered language must be understood as. To be sure, Professor Barbara Turchetta does know and actually has been working on endangered languages. I must begin to do something myself. It is an extraordinary entreprise, it was not easy to understand it. But I learned so many things among the endengered languages people at SOAS that I am really lucky. Best wishes to us all and our endangered languages and peoples.

  2. Softback says:


  3. Ross Perlin says:

    A groysn un a hartsikn dank, Peter! I’ll just mention a very honorable precedent: Joshua (aka Shikl) Fishman writes a wonderful column in the Yiddish Forward, the same weekly newspaper for which I’ve done these videos. Every so often I miraculously get my copy of the paper here in Yunnan and read his words about Gaelic, Basque, other languages of the Jewish diaspora….

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