Thursday, August 20, 2015

Yiddish is Just Freaking Awesome

This is a wonderful article (thanks, Dad).

My mom is a fluent Yiddish speaker. Her parents spoke to each other in Yiddish, so she's native in that language along with English. My grandmother refused to speak Polish ever again once she was in Canada, but she was also fluent in Polish.

My dad just told me that he only realized recently that his parents were fluent in Yiddish (!!!). They spoke to each other exclusively in English and only peppered their conversations with Yiddish words.

So, I grew up knowing a lot of these terms, although I don't speak Yiddish it's certainly on my bucket list. I don't think many people of my vintage know a lot of Yiddish, other than in ultra-Orthodox circles, where they learn it in school and it is the lingua franca among religious Ashkenazi Jews.

This article has a wonderful audio clip that goes along with it.

The funny thing is the author mentions that she doesn't know anyone else who uses the term "ongepatchke". I use that ALL THE TIME but it's more like too much puttering-like I won't use a recipe that is too ongepatchke. Too much futzing around.

I even use "oiskemutcheh", which is basically like pestering . Like how siblings oiskemutche each other.

I think she's also wrong about nebbish. It's more like nerdy loser, beta.

I use "feh" a lot.

And "ballaboosta" comes from the Hebrew ba'alat habayit, the home owner, the lady of the house. If you are 'ballabatish", you are a lady of the house, a mensch, a hostess with the mostess.

Fressing is how animals eat-not humans. So, if you say a human is fressing, they are eating like a pig.   My grandparents improved on that. They called it (and I have NO IDEA the roots of this), "PUCKING" it in. This still lives on amongst my cousins. "Pucking" in the food is considered very uncouth and ghastly.

"Schvitz" is literally sweat, so it's also used for the sauna. Nothing I like better than a good workout and a schvitz. 

Wonderful stuff.