Pent Nurmekund as the translator of Yiddish folksongs into Estonian

  • Anna Verschik Tallinn
Keywords: Jews -- Estonia, Folklore, Jewish, Folk music and songs, Yiddish language -- Translating, Estonian language, Music, Jewish


One can often hear the question: are there any Jews in Estonia at all? And if there are, is there any reason to speak about Estonian Jewry in the sense we speak about Polish, Lithuanian, Galatian Jewry? Indeed, Estonia has never been a “traditional” land of Jews: during the Russian rule it did not belong to the so-called pale of settlement. Estonia never met with the “Jewish question”, there was no ground either for everyday or for official antisemitism. The Department of Jewish studies in the University of Tartu was the first one of its kind in the Nordic countries. At that time it was not unusual that an Estonian understood some Yiddish, there are also examples of the students who studied seriously the language and the culture of Jews. Pent Nurmekund, a famous polyglot was one of them. Nurmekund had learned a number of Yiddish folksongs and later translated some of them into Estonian. The two songs we are going to speak about are “Toibn” and “Main fraint”. Nurmekund performed both a Yiddish and an Estonian version of the first song. Main fraint was recorded only in Yiddish, the Estonian translation was published in the literary periodical Looming.
Sep 1, 1994
How to Cite
Verschik, A. (1994). Pent Nurmekund as the translator of Yiddish folksongs into Estonian. Nordisk judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies, 15(1-2), 94-99.