Yiddish: Still Alive and Well

“Interface between Yiddish and English was my second line of argument. The influx of Yiddish into London and New York at the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth centuries, initially so alarming to protectionists like Henry James and Henry Adams, was soon welcomed by stylists like H.L. Mencken. How much poorer English would be without the schlemiel and his bagel, without the chutzpah to kvell, kibitz and kvetch. By that time, the enlivening effects of Yiddish had inspired the 1960s motto, “Dress British, think Yiddish.” Professional comedy was then about 75% Jewish, driving Yiddish ironies into the mainstream, and at culture’s other extreme, the Holocaust was penetrating historical consciousness, with Yiddish as its major language of witness. The relatively large number of Yiddish speakers in Montreal, including Holocaust survivors and their children, was a major point in favor of its local relevance.”

Source: How is Yiddish Doing?

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  • http://www.ADHDRollerCoaster.org Gina Pera

    If Yiddish weren’t alive and well, I’d be schvitzing!

    • Jeff

      Oy gevalt! (And your Yiddish is pretty good…for a shiksa.)

  • http://www.ADHDRollercoaster.org gina pera

    Are you all verklempt?

    Don’t forget: I’m an honorary Jew.

    • Jeff

      My wife is also an honorary Jew…but, technically, she is still a shiksa.

  • http://www.ADHDRollercoaster.org gina pera

    Okay, I’m still a shiksa, but a Latin shiksa.

  • http://www.ADHDRollercoaster.org gina pera

    And Italians are very close to Jews in many ways, ya know.

    • Jeff

      I grew up in a neighborhood where many of the Jews thought they were Italian.

  • http://18channels.blogspot.com Katy B.

    I don’t know what you two are babbling about but that’s a damned fine-looking bagel.

    • Jeff

      Katy…here’s the translation:
      schvitzing = sweating, perspiring
      shiksa = a woman who is not Jewish
      verklempt (alternately “farklempt”) = emotional

      Of course, what I’ve given you above (on the left) is the transliteration of the words. Yiddish is really written with a Hebrew alphabet and the pronunciation of the words is Germanic. See explanation below.

      “Yiddish was at one time the international language of Ashkenazic Jews (the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe and their descendants). A hybrid of Hebrew and medieval German, Yiddish takes about three-quarters of its vocabulary from German, but borrows words liberally from Hebrew and many other languages from the many lands where Ashkenazic Jews have lived. It has a grammatical structure all its own, and is written in an alphabet based on Hebrew characters. ” Source: http://www.jewfaq.org/yiddish.htm

      Finally…here’s an interesting list of English words that are Yiddish in origin: chutzpah; glitch; putz; schnook. See this link for more words: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_words_of_Yiddish_origin

  • http://18channels.blogspot.com Katy Rollins

    Yes…perhaps…but that bagel still looks DELICIOUS!

    • Jeff

      If you, Sonny and the kids can make the trip to my place…I’ll have PLENTY of bagels and shmears ready for you.

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