Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yiddish gayes Gothic gauja

The Yiddish word 'gayes' was used in western Germany and Poland to mean 'people of the countryside, particularly non-Jewish'. It is commonly spelled as if it were of Semitic origin 'gimel-yod-vov-sof' but it is not a Semitic world. Meyer Wolf and Alexis Manaster Ramer have suggested that it is of ancient Germanic origin.
The word frequently appears in the form 's'gayes' where the 's' is a contraction of the neutral definite article 'dos' the word can also be masculine or feminine.
Related forms in Gothic and Old High German refer to a district or region but the closest form is Gothic 'gauja' (masculine) defined in Lehmann's Gothic dictionary as 'people of a land'.

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