“Thoughts on Death” is now in print for the first time in history, in a lightly modernized Yiddish, in Der Veker 18 (March-April 2021). Der Veker can be purchased in better bookstores in Brooklyn, or ordered on Amazon:
On this page, you will find the following files. I have uploaded each of them in pdf format, for maximum accuracy in electronic form, and also in .doc format for anyone wishing to work on them.
1) ThoughtsOnDeath-translation: My current best attempt at a translation of Thoughts On Death, a work in progress, is presented here together with the Yiddish text arranged in couplets. I am least confident in this, of all my work presented here, but it is the most useful document for most readers who might stumble on this web page. All of my work here will be double-checked and possibly revised from time to time, but especially this translation. I request and welcome comments and suggestions from anyone who knows early Yiddish or has other knowledge relevant to trying to figure this out, about Venetian proverbs and expressions for example.
2) ThoughtsOnDeath-text: This is a transcription of the handwritten text of “Thoughts on Death” into a modern Yiddish font, following its arrangement in the manuscript, with some notes on the appearance of the text. I am quite confident of the accuracy of my work, with the important provisos that some typos are almost inevitable, and that some letters, such as ב and כ, are basically indistinguishable in the scribe’s handwriting; in these cases my transcription has been determined by my understanding of the text. I have not modernized or otherwise changed the scribe’s spelling at all, even where it is unfamiliar. NB, I own high-quality electronic copies of the original manuscript, purchased from Cambridge University Library, and am ready to show them to any scholar who wishes to work on this material, as needed.
3) ThoughtsOnDeath-rhymes: This is the same transcription arranged into the couplets, with no fixed rhythm, in which the author wrote the text — according to my best understanding.
4) ThoughtsOnDeath-transcription: I have found it useful, in trying to understand this 500-year-old text, to rewrite the Germanic Yiddish words in more modern German spelling, and similarly romanize words of Italian and Venetian derivation. This obviously unscientific transcription is presented here only as a tool which others also may find useful, together with the Yiddish text arranged in couplets.