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A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names:  Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation and Migrations. By Alexander Beider

Magnum opus describes origin and evolution of 15,000 given names. Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation, and Migrations.


Dr. Alexander Beider, author of A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire and A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland has completed his third magnum opus, A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names.

The most comprehensive compilation and analysis of Ashkenazic given names ever!
This 728-page book identifies more than 15,000 given names derived from just 735 root names. Each root name includes a detailed description of the origin (etymology) of the name, a list of the variant and derivative names displayed in a scheme that reveals how the variants evolved, and references to the more than 15,000 variations of the root names throughout the centuries--some dating back to the 11th century. An index to the 15,000 variations guides you to the proper root name.

The book may be helpful in breaking down the brick wall caused by Eastern European Jews not having surnames prior to the 19th century. Because this book identifies a given name in a specific place at a specific time it may provide a clue as to the early origin of ancestors.


Breakthroughs in Understanding Early Ashkenazic History and Ashkenazic Given Names
The Dictionary represents only 60% of the book. The remainder is a 300-page thesis on the origins, structure, pronunciation, and migrations of Ashkenazic given names. It provides new important data information about:
  * the general history of Ashkenazic Jewry including an analysis of Jewish migrations in Europe since the Middle Ages until the 17th century
  * an analysis of the names borrowed from Gentiles shedding more light on the relationship between Jews and non-Jews in the Middle Ages
  * a history of Yiddish including dating of various phonetic phenomena, dating the beginnings of Yiddish dialects, dating and localizing the use of various diminutive suffixes.

Sample portions of the book
Table of Contents
* The dictionary entry for the feminine given name Yentl
* List of the 15,000 given names in the dictionary


8½" x 11" 728 pp. Cost $99.00

Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names

  • Zachary Baker, former Head Librarian of YIVO Institute and now Reinhard Family Curator of Judaica and Hebraica Collections Stanford University Libraries said:

    Alexander Beider's latest book on Jewish names is a real tour-de-force, a major contribution to onomastics with wide-ranging applications to several other fields as well. The author ingeniously makes use of first names in the service of "linguistic archaeology," and this method has enabled him to trace migratory patterns that are not otherwise discernible from archival documents. The publication of this important work is cause for genuine celebration.

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