MONTREAL (May. 27)
The percentage of Canadian Jews claiming Yiddish as their mother tongue declined by nearly half between 1931 and 1951, according to a study just made public by the Canadian Jewish Congress, The decline of Yiddish was also mirrored in the 18-fold increase in the number of Jews who reported English as their mother tongue.
In the two decades, Canadian Jews who reported Yiddish as their basic language dropped from 95.4 percent of the Jewish population to 50.6 percent, while those who had been brought up from early childhood to speak English increased from 2.4 percent to 42.8. The CJC study projected the rate of decline of Yiddish and concluded that by 1991–33 years hence–less than one-quarter of the Jews of Canada would have learned Yiddish as their first language.
In explanation of the decline of Yiddish, the report said: “It is evident that while the mother tongue and the languages spoken by Jews in Canada are dependent to a very large extent upon the country of birth, period of immigration, and age structure of the Jewish population, the will to survive as an ethnic and cultural entity, and the degree of the efforts exerted by individuals and groups within each community to make that survival and continual development possible despite all difficulties also play an important part in the results achieved.”