Ambiguities in the Romanization of Yiddish


  • Bella Hass Weinberg St. John's University - New York



Romanization, transliteration, Linguistics, Jewish languages


Romanization of Yiddish is one of the most complex activities in Hebraica cataloging, especially for publications that do not use Standard Yiddish Orthography. The Library of Congress has adopted the VIVO table for vowels, but uses its own Hebrew table for consonants. LC's publication Hebraica Cataloging provides little guidance on Yiddish Romanization, and MARC records contain many errors and inconsistencies in the application of the table. VIVO's linguistic reference works, notably Uriel Weinreich's Modern English-Yiddish, Yiddish-English Dictionary and the translation of Max Weinreich's History of the Yiddish Language, often contradict each other in the Romanization of Hebraisms, while LC's rules for Romanizing Hebraisms seem to have changed recently.

Hebrew titles for Yiddish works are particularly problematic, as there are two possible pronunciations. LC appears to be moving in the direction of providing two Romanized title entries in such cases.

Several transliterated Yiddish dictionaries have been published in the last decade. Some use the VIVO system; others do not. The extent to which these tools can provide assistance to Hebraica catalogers is assessed.


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How to Cite

Weinberg, Bella. 1995. “Ambiguities in the Romanization of Yiddish”. Judaica Librarianship 9 (1-2):58-74.



Catalog Department