Freitag, 6. Juli 2007

The Joys of Yiddish

Ok, first of all, anybody's welcome to contribute to this. I've been gathering words / sayings from Yiddish literature that, as far as I know, aren't commonly used anymore, but that I consider simply adorable and, och, just love. This is just a start, not a complete list yet (if there'll ever be such a thing as a complete list), but I should love to read anybody's additions. So here we go:
  • lebn vi got in odes - to live in clover (lit. to live like god in Odessa)
  • aerodrom - airport
  • ainchazern - to mess oneself up
  • ainreidenish - delusion
  • ainshtubikn - to domesticate
  • aroisfaler - drop-out
  • ariberglitshn - to slide over
  • arumshlavendren - to aimlessly stroll around
  • artsbiskup - archbishop
  • babnik - womanizer
  • berloge - bear cave

More is to follow if anybody's interested :)


A Heimishe hat gesagt…

You must have gotten that words out of a book cause I am speaking Yiddish and that's "high language" to me :)

You have posted words starting with A and some B.. I am waiting to see all the letters.

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

You've figured it out, babe (gee, I love making you blush). I'm trying to keep a somewhat alphabetical order.

David_on_the_Lake hat gesagt…

I love Yiddish..and I cringe at the yinglish spoken today in the streets of williamsburg and boro park..

I always called an airport a luftfeld..

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi David,

Thanks for commenting and thanks a lot for your contribution.

My great-grandmother used to speak a Yiddish that would have put the Brooklynite yiden to shame. I only know a select few that actually speak Yiddish there.

I shall be adding more words soon.

Miriam hat gesagt…

Hi Fashioista,

I got to your blog from reading Jack's Shack. I read your comment on the lack of English grammer, etc.

I'd like to commend you for your sensitivity! And also for your willingness to not just kvetch but to try and do something about it!

All the honors! kol hakavod!
(big applauds!!!!!!)

Miriam hat gesagt…

p.s. why only the not commonly used Yiddish words? Wny not also the common ones?

Would you ever do a Yiddish phrase list? lol

Avromi hat gesagt…

When will the first course be?

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi Miriam,

Thanks for visiting my blog and also thanks for your rather flattering comment.

A comprehensive Yiddish dictionary would be quite a feat. I'd consider it though were I to marry someone so awfully rich that my main task would be to look pretty all day ;)

Hi Avromi,

Welcome to my blog.

I will start posting learning material (and maybe a few exercizes as well) this week and will gradually add stuff.
If there's anything special you'd like to know, just leave me a message on here.

Avromi hat gesagt…

When do you use "among," and when "amongst"?

When writing regarding a stipulation to the rule, do you write "provided," or "providing"?

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi Avromi,

First of all, myapologies for the late reply; I've been a bit busy.

You actually raise two very interesting questions.

"among" and "amongst" are words of equal meaning and use. The only real difference is that "amongst" is a more old-fashioned version and is preferably used in British English. So, unless you speak with a British accent or aim to sound poetic, you might want to prefer using "among" over "amongst".
There are a few more words of that kind, e.g. "amid / amidst", "between / betwixt" etc.

As far as "providing" and "provided" are concerned, I'd need to know the complete sentence to tell what fits.
Both, "providing" and "provided" can be used as participles. In English, participle clauses substitute sub clauses.
Present participles (such as "providing") indicate that the action of the participle clause takes place at the same time as the action of the main clause.

For example:
Knowing that she was already late for work, she called a taxi.
= She called a taxi, because she knew she was already late for work.
Picking up the newspaper, Peter spills some coffee.
= While Peter is picking up the newspaper, he spills some coffee.

Past participles (such as "having provided") are used to indicate that the action of the participle clause preceded the action of the main clause.

For example:
Having read her new novel all night, Susan could hardly stay awake at work the following morning.
= Because she had been reading her new novel all night, Susan could hardly stay awake at work the following morning.
Having been caught red-handed, the burglar still denies committing the crime.
= The burglar still denies the crime although he has been caught red-handed.

Note: the Present Perfect (have done / have been taken) is not used as widely in American as in British English. In American English the Past Tense is generally prefered over the Present Perfect Tense. I shall add more information on that later.

As you can also see, when you replace participle clauses by sub clauses, you start interpreting the sentence as you need to pick a conjunction to connect sub clause and main clause. There can be introductory conjunctions in participle clauses, too.

For example:
Despite always having disliked fish, Mary enjoyed her tuna sandwich.
= Mary enjoyed her tuna sandwich despite / although she had always disliked fish.

When you merely use the past participle form of a verb in the participle clause, it means that the sub clause it constitutes would be in the passive voice. The action of the participle clause and the action of the main clause take place at the same time.

For example:
Known to practically everybody, he is a great presidential candidate.
= Since he is known to practically everybody, he is a great presidential candidate.
Provided (by their mother) with snacks and drinks, the children set off for their picnic.
= Since they were provided with snacks and drinks (by their mother), the children set off for their picnic.
Spoken all over Scandinavia, English has gained an important role in foreign language teaching there.
= As English is spoken all over Scandinavia, it has gained an important role in foreign language teaching there.

The past form of the passive participle forms as such:
having been + past participle.

For example:
Having been provided with snacks and drinks (by their mother), the children set off for their picnic.
= After they had been provided with snacks and drinks (by their mother), the children set off for their picnic.
Having been shown at least a dozen options, the Smiths can now finally decide which house they want to buy.
= After they have been shown at least a dozen options, the Smiths can now finally decide which house they want to buy.

Noteworthily, passive sentences do not always require an acting person (by-agent, e.g. by their mother) to make sense.

In the case of "provided" the lack of a by-agent can even connote the unchallenged existence of a superior provider.

Just consider:
Provided we get everything done by Thursday, we can call it an early weekend.

"Provided" clearly is a participle in this sentence, yet there is no indication as to who the provider is. On a theosophical note, this leaves a lot of room to speculation. It is not uncommon though that languages still reflect what used to be a society's common understanding, i.e. in the case of "provided" the existence of a superior being that provides. Such terms often just have become so commonplace that the average speaker won't think too much into them anymore.

BTW, limit the use of participle clauses to formal written English and maximum formal speeches. They sound awkward, upset or even arrogant in spoken English.

Hope this helps.

Avromi hat gesagt…

Thank you, I would like for you to critique one of my pages; it would be extremely beneficial. Thank you

nuch a chosid hat gesagt…

Yiddish is my Mamaa-Loshen
but many of these Yiddish words u find on the web are way different that what we talk it's from those "yiddishisten" who took out the YID from Yiddish and other then talking Yiddish they have nothing in common with being a yid.

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi Avromi,

Just give me a link, and I'll take a look at it. I'm having guests over the weekend, but I can get this done early next week if this is early enough for you. If you'd rather email or IM it, a heimishe and sara-with-no-h know how to contact me.

Hi nuch a chosid,

Welcome here and thanks for your comment.

I'm with you on that not everybody who "speaks" (or rather "inserts") some Yiddish is a "yid". Please consider though that before WW2, Yiddish was considered one of the world languages. It was the common language of trade in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition, varieties of Yiddish developed early on; there originally was West Yiddish (which my great-grandmother spoke), then Poilish and Litvish developed. Each came with regional nuances. YIVO later tried to establish "klal sprakh", a standardized Yiddish (e.g. they'd use "kh" instead of "ch" in Latin characters), but it wasn't really successful.
I am looking for words in Yiddish literature that aren't commonly used anymore or that I think sound adorable. It'll be rather an subjective listing, but I'll be grateful for anybody's contribution.

Avromi hat gesagt…

Thanks: You can click my name, and then Daf Notes. There are many posts there. Thank you.

Avromi hat gesagt…

Do you believe in coincidences? I was in middle of writing the Daf, and i thought to myself; I wonder if the fashionista has anything to say regarding my posts, and I began to look for your link. At that moment, your comment showed up!

Avromi hat gesagt…

my email is aneinu at sbcglobal dot net. thank you

yingerman hat gesagt…

Sorry but Yiddish is not a real language, is plaguerized(?) from German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, some Slovakian And Hebrew.
Cause the Jews were the middlemen in pre-war Europe. A Jew could find a fellow Jew, far and wide, on the continent. The problem being that not all spoke Hebrew well, not to mention that lotsa nouns dont have a Hebrew word for it, so.....
Yiddish (tada!) was born.
German being the most prevelent trade language around, in those days the language varied from area to area (a good example still used today is the word coat, known to yiddish speakers as a rok or a reckel or mantel) but mostly it became an 'understood' language due to our cultural similarities.

Anyway my point is that I don't think that the old 'Forword style' Yiddish is any more Real than the current chassidisher Yiddish or Yinglish used today. Yiddish migrates and changes as needed, as it always did from its inception.
Ask a person who 'speaks Yiddish at home' some one who considers Yiddish their mama-loshon, for the right translation of a word, and if it not the German or Russian word used 80 years ago, then update your dictionary.
English is like that too.
The words duh, twonk, clintonize and spam are all included in the new editions, even if they weren't proper or real words 50 years ago.

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi yingerman,

Thanks for commenting.

Anyhow, I'm not just another maven producing my own ideas abusing the liberties of the internet; the concept of Yiddish qualifying as a language (as opposed to just a dialect or ideolect) is commonly accepted in linguistics, the scientific research on languages.

Nobody would seriously argue that Spanish is not a language, yet it was made up from Latin, Catalan, Basque, Iberian, Arabic, and Northern African dialects (the latter two due to migration and occupation).

There's a wide variety of explanations on how Yiddish came about, but the most convincing, and also scientifically proven, idea has it that scholars saw a need for a language that would save the sacred language for worship and maximum studying.

I will agree with you that Yiddish has always been flexible as in adapting to the languages spoken in its surroundings, yet you need to distinguish between adopting words for items or matters that were not previously known and replacing existing words out of ignorance. Sorry if this sounds a bit rude, but among native speakers of any language, you will find ones that have a greater command of that very language than others, but that does not necessarily mean that words are outdated. I've seen many an example of yidn that speak Yiddish as well as English of a high standard just as I've seen many an example of yidn that can hardly communicate decently in either language. I credit the bochurim though for in average being very fast and determined learners.

I'm also well aware that many refugees from Nazi-Germany did not usually speak Yiddish at home, others continued the tradition of speaking Yiddish at home, and another group abandoned Yiddish and turned secular. A friend of mine, whose grandparents came to NY from Hungary, told me his grandparents only started speaking Yiddish after their arrival in the US, yet they'd maintain a Hungarian accent for the rest of their lives.

BTW, as I'm fluent in German, there's a difference between rok (Rock) and mantel. A rok (Rock) used to be a long dress jacket as they used to be in fashion till the early 1900s (nowadays "Rock" in German generally refers to a skirt). Rekl is a diminutive of rok. A mantel (Mantel) is an overcoat that's worn outdoors.

I don't claim Yinglish is bad per se, but I think what David and I both were referring to is the sleaziness in the use of Yiddish. (That's what happened to Latin - and it became a dead language.) Just consider that only about 0.5% of Yiddish books have been translated into English so far, so a "loss of words", so to speak, might as well translate into a loss of cultural knowledge.

I'm grateful for your input though.

Dolly hat gesagt…

I would also love to see the rest of the list. Some of the words are simply priceless, such as "ainchazern". I was surprized to see "vi a got in odes" (cute!)because "in odes" we used to say "vi a tzar in odes". There was also a parallel phrase in Russian "kak korol' v Odesse" which translates "as a king in Odessa."
Aerodrom is Russian for an airport; that's what all Russian airports are called. Babnik is a Russian slang word, originating from "baba" which means simply a woman, as opposed to a young girl.
Generally, in the same way as yinglish is spoken today in Boro Park, Russian and Ukrainian words and phrases integrated into Yiddish and became part of it. I've heard "zover crem" (sour cream) in America while "in odes" we would ask for "a gluz smetane". I still cook using my bobbe's recepes that are based on "a zhmen'ke" - a handful. Zhmen'ka is a Ukrainian word. And so on.
I think you deserve all the kudos for compiling the list; can't wait to see the rest of it.

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store hat gesagt…

Hi Dolly,

Thanks very much for your comment and also thanks a lot for the wealth of information you've provided. I'll be certain to continue the list and am looking forward to more contributions by you.