Hebrew sources for the history of the Ukrainian language
Hebrew sources for the history of the Ukrainian language. From the time of Kyivan Rus’, such sources are scarce. A letter of recommendation from the Jewish community of Kyiv in the first half of the 10th century contains the first-ever record of the name of the city of Kyiv; the so-called Schechter text (10th century) contains references to several ethnic names in Ukraine. There are a few records from the time of the mass settlement of Jews in Ukraine, beginning in the 14th century. The number of records increased substantially in the 16th and 17th centuries. They consist mostly of rabbinical responsa (by J. Hoeschel ben Joseph, A. Rapoport, J. Sirkes, and others), but also of several Hebrew chronicles, including N. Hanover’s chronicle (1653; English trans 1950) of the Cossack-Polish War. These texts contain mentions of some Ukrainian place-names. Their linguistic value is diminished by the failure of the Hebrew alphabet to render vowels.
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]