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Judah Achilles Joffe

JOFFE, JUDAH ACHILLES (1873–1966), Yiddish philologist. Born in Bakhmut (southern Russia), Joffe excelled from earliest youth in his linguistic abilities. As a musicologist and expert on Slavic languages, he was a contributor to such publications as New International Encyclopedia (1902), International Yearbook (1900, 1901, 1902), and Nelson's Looseleaf Encyclopedia (1910). His main interest, however, was Yiddish philology, for the purpose of which he built up a large library which included many rare early Yiddish texts. Prominent among his achievements is the critical edition (1949) of the *Bove-Bukh ("Bove Book," 1541) by Elijah Baḥur *Levita, which was intended to be the first in a three-volume series of that noted scholar's Yiddish literary works. Also noteworthy are Joffe's studies of the Slavic component in Yiddish (in: Pinkes, 1 (1927/28), 235–56, 296–312), of Yiddish in America (in: YIVO Bleter, 10 (1936), 127–45), of Yiddish deluxe editions since 1534 (in: YIVO Bleter, 16 (1940), 45–58), as well as various etymological issues. Joffe translated and edited books from several languages including Yiddish, English, and French. He assisted editorially with the Psychiatric Dictionary (1940) by L.H. Hensie and J. Shatzky (1940), and the Groyser Verterbukh fun der Yidisher Shprakh ("Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language," 1961– ), the first volume of which he edited jointly with Yudel *Mark. Joffe was a pioneer of Yiddish orthographic reform and a man with controversial linguistic ideas. For his 85th birthday, *YIVO published the Yiddish Yuda A. Yofebukh, edited by Yudel Mark (1958, includes bibl.).


LNYL, 4 (1961), 204–8.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.