Yiddish and Multilingual Urban Space in Montreal

Type of resource
Yiddish and Multilingual Urban Space in Montreal
The author contends that Montreal’s cultural landscape long had the look of a standoff: the more powerful English in the west, the more numerous French in the east, and immigrants in a narrow buffer zone between them. She notes that from the 1880s until the 1950s, this middle ground was largely occupied by Yiddish-speaking Jews. Though the power of these boundaries has diminished since the 1950s,the author explains, the memory of these divisions has made Montreal a city where translation carries strong social and historical resonance. Crossing from one zone of the city to another still means changing languages, entering new time zones, and engaging with the legacy of competing identities. She argues that to follow the pathways of Yiddish through the streets and neighborhoods of the triangulated city is to find a rich point of entry into the history of Jewish Montreal. She contends that Montreal’s strong language consciousness has allowed for a singular valorization of Yiddish as a vehicle of Jewish experience. The story of translation from Yiddish through successive embeddings of language into city space offers an unusual narrative of connections across communities. The author follows the travels of Yiddish across the city, as it leaves the central zone of immigrant experience and becomes folded into the Anglicized Jewish community but also, in an unsuspected deviation, moves into the Francophone community as well. She explores three directions of translation: translations into Yiddish, from Yiddish into English, and from both English and Yiddish into French.
Book Title
The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures
New York, NY
Simon, Sherry. “Yiddish and Multilingual Urban Space in Montreal.” In The Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Jewish Cultures, edited by Nadia Valman and Laurence Roth, 272–285. New York, NY: Routledge, 2014.
Find in a library