Yiddish Language, Ashkenazi Jews May Have Come From Northeastern Turkey
To locate the origin of the Yiddish language, researchers digged into the biological records of Ashkenazi Jews, and evidence revealed that Yiddish predominantly came from northeastern Turkey.
Various researchers from the United States, United Kingdom and Israel used the Geographic Population Structure to identify the DNA of Ashkenazi Jews and trace their origin based on geographical information generated by the tool.
Spearheaded by geneticist Dr. Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield, the research found out that 90 percent of the Ashkenazi Jews have connections to the villages near Silk Road trading routes, which include Ashanaz, Eskenaz, Iskenaz and Ashkuz.
"We identified 367 people who claim they have two parents who are Ashkenazic Jews and we divided them into people whose parents only speak Yiddish and then everyone else," said Elhaik.
Surprisingly, the villages pointing to the origins of AJs (Ashkenazic Jews) had no history of Jews.
"We conclude that AJs probably originated during the first millennium when Iranian Jews Judaized Greco-Roman, Turk, Iranian, southern Caucasus, and Slavic populations inhabiting the lands of Ashkenaz in Turkey," said researchers.
They added that the Yiddish language might really have originated from the Slavic language. A mixture of Iranian, Slovakian and Turkish merchants might have created the language, discrediting the belief that Yiddish is a language that originated from Germany.
"Yiddish is such a wonderful and complex language, which was inappropriately called 'bad German,'" Elhaik said.
The Yiddish language may have been used as a "cryptic trade language" along the trade routes of Silk Road between Germany, China and Africa.
"Language, geography and genetics are all connected," said Elhaik.
It is estimated that the Yiddish language is 1,500 years old.
Currently, about 5 to 6 million of Ashkenazi Jews around the world are residing in the United States and 2.8 million are in Israel. Ashkenazi Jews are estimated to be 75 percent of the Jewish population and the 25 percent comprises Sephardi Jews.
The study titled "Localizing Ashkenazic Jews to primeval villages in the ancient Iranian lands of Ashkenaz" is published in the journal of Genome Biology and Evolution.