The Language of Jewish Folk Musicians
Klezmer-loshn is an example of a professional argot or jargon. Those terms are used to refer to a specialized variety of a language used by members of a particular professional or occupational group. Such an argot differs from slang in the relative size of the group that uses it: typically small and more specialized in the case of the former, larger and more general (e.g., speakers of a certain generation) in the latter. Both concepts are distinguished from that of a dialect, which is usually understood to have geographic rather than professional or chronological boundaries. The literature on Yiddish klezmer-loshn comes from roughly the first quarter of this century. The lists of terms compiled by the several authors add up to over six hundred lexical items, but not all items were used in all areas, and the total includes a considerable number of variants—orthographic (lash vs. lazh, bad, ugly); phonetic (svizn vs. svidn, sit; tentlen vs. tintlen, write); and morphological (katre vs. katerukhe, hat; klis vs. kliser vs. klisalnik, thief).
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