Max Weinreich

Max Weinreich

Max Weinreich (22 April 1894, Kuldīga, Russian Empire, now Latvia — 29 January 1969, New York City, USA) was a linguist, specializing in the Yiddish language, and the father of the linguist Uriel Weinreich, who edited the Modern Yiddish-English English-Yiddish Dictionary.



Memorial on house in Vilnius

Max Weinreich (Meyer Lazarevich Veynreykh) began his studies in a German school in Kuldiga, transferring to a Russian gymnasium in Libava after four years. He then lived in Dvinsk and Łódź. Between 1909 and 1912 he resided in Saint Petersburg, where he attended I.G. Eizenbet's private Jewish gymnasium for boys.[1] He was raised in a German-speaking family but became fascinated with Yiddish.

In 1925, he founded the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research (originally called the Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institut — Yiddish Scientific Institute) in his apartment in Vilnius, and was its director from 1925 to 1939.[2]

Weinreich was in Denmark with his wife, Regina Shabad Weinreich (the daughter of a notable doctor and Jewish leader in Vilna Zemach Shabad), and older son, Uriel, when war broke out in 1939. Regina returned to Vilnius, but Max and Uriel stayed abroad, moving to New York City in March 1940. His wife and younger son Gabriel joined them there during the brief period when Vilnius was in independent Lithuania. Weinreich became a professor of Yiddish at City College and re-established YIVO in New York.


Weinreich translated Sigmund Freud and Ernst Toller into Yiddish.

Weinreich is often cited as the author of a criterion for distinguishing between languages and dialects: "A language is a dialect with an army and navy" ("אַ שפראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמײ און פֿלאָט", "a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot"), but he was explicitly quoting an auditor at one of his lectures.

Publications in English:

  • History of the Yiddish Language (Volumes 1 and 2) ed. Paul (Hershl) Glasser. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008.[1]
  • Hitler's professors: the Part of Scholarship in Germany's Crimes Against the Jewish People. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.[2]
  • History of the Yiddish language. trans. Shlomo Noble, with the assistance of Joshua A. Fishman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980. [Footnotes omitted.]

In Yiddish and German:

  • Bilder fun der yidisher literaturgeshikhte fun di onheybn biz Mendele Moykher-Sforim, 1928.
  • Das Jiddische Wissenschaftliche Institut ("Jiwo") die wissenschaftliche Zentralstelle des Ostjudentums, 1931.
  • Fun beyde zaytn ployt: dos shturemdike lebn fun Uri Kovnern, dem nihilist, 1955
  • Geschichte der jiddischen Sprachforschung. herausgegeben von Jerold C. Frakes, 1993
  • Di geshikhte fun beyzn beyz, 1937.
  • Geshikhte fun der yidisher shprakh: bagrifn, faktn, metodn, 1973.
  • Hitlers profesorn : heylek fun der daytsher visnshaft in daytshland farbrekhns kegn yidishn folk. Nyu-York: Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut, Historishe sektsye, 1947.
  • Mekhires-Yosef: ... aroysgenumen fun seyfer "Tam ve-yashar" un fun andere sforim ..., 1923.
  • Der Onheyb: zamlbukh far literatur un visnshaft, redaktirt fun D. Aynhorn, Sh. Gorelik, M. Vaynraykh, 1922.
  • Oysgeklibene shriftn, unter der redaktsye fun Shmuel Rozhanski, 1974.
  • Der oytser fun der yidisher shprakh fun Nokhem Stutshkov; unter der redaktsye fun Maks Vaynraykh, c. 1950
  • Praktishe gramatik fun der yidisher shprakh F. Haylperin un M. Vaynraykh, 1929.
  • Shtaplen fir etyudn tsu der yidisher shprakhvisnshaft un literaturgeshikhte, 1923.
  • Shturemvint bilder fun der yidisher geshikhte in zibtsntn yorhundert
  • Di shvartse pintelekh. Vilne: Yidisher visnshaftlekher institut, 1939.
  • Di Yidishe visnshaft in der heyntiker tsayt. Nyu-York: 1941.


  • For Max Weinreich on his seventieth birthday; studies in Jewish languages, literature, and society, 1964.



  • David E. Fishman, The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture, University of Pittsburgh Press (2005), ISBN 0822942720.
  • Gershon David Hundert, YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, Yale University Press (2008), ISBN 0300119038.

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  • Max Weinreich — (* 22. April 1894 in Kuldiga, Russisches Kaiserreich; † 29. Januar 1969 in New York) war ein auf Jiddisch spezialisierter Sprachwissenschaftler. Max Weinreich studierte in Sankt Petersburg, Berlin und Marburg. 1923 promovierte er bei Ferdinand… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Uriel Weinreich — (* 23. Mai 1926 in Vilnius; † 30. März 1967 in New York) war ein US amerikanischer Linguist. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Leben 2 Schriften 3 Literatur …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Uriel Weinreich — ( yi. אוריאל ווײַנרײַך lrm;; 1926 – 30 March 1967) was a linguist at Columbia University. Born in Vilnius (then part of Poland and now capital of Lithuania), he earned his Ph.D. from Columbia, and went on to teach there, specializing in Yiddish… …   Wikipedia

  • Weinreich, Max — (1894 1969)    American scholar. He was born in Kuldiga, Latvia. He served as research director of YIVO in Vilna from 1925, and later at the institute s new centre in New York. From 1947 he was professor at City College, New York. He published… …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • YIDDISH LITERATURE — This articles is arranged according to the following outline: introduction UNTIL THE END OF THE 18TH CENTURY the bible in yiddish literature epic homiletic prose drama liturgy ethical literature Historical Songs and Writings transcriptions of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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