Page 26 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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J
e w i s h
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o o k
A
n n u a l
number of Hebraisms in German Yiddish was on the decline,
the aforementioned Ave-Lallement cited the follow ing answer by
a Jew to the question why he had not attended a certain fa ir:
Der shuk shukt harbe shuk—the market calls fo r many marks.
A lthough this type of word play may have been somewhat ex­
ceptional, it nevertheless indicates the significant ro le o f Heb­
raisms in the Yiddish of that period. Selig does not confine his
dictionary merely to words, but occasionally gives entire phrases
or sentences. ‘The coffee, brandy and beer at our inn are poor’
is rendered in unserer ushpize iz dos shokhere mayim, yayin
sorof vesheykhor shofel. ‘False rumors’ are shabes shmues. ‘T r iv ia l
things’ are klomer kez. It is interesting to note that some of the
Hebraisms become semantically detached from their original
m atrix and assume new and at times paradoxical meanings. ‘He
became an adu lterer’ is er iz eyshes ish gevorn.
In 1858-62 Ave-Lallement published Das deutsche Gaunerthum
(Leipzig), in which he devoted nearly 200 pages to a dictionary
of Hebraisms and abbreviations in Yiddish. A lthough by that
time the Hebraisms in the Yiddish of the German Jews were in
retreat all along the line, the author still lists more than 7,000.
Again, some of these are very interesting and noteworthy. They
could still perform a v ita l function in contemporary Yiddish.
A ‘hopeless situation’ is expressed in the phrase er iz ade oved,
a ‘prank’ is a bokherim shtikl, an ‘unpopu lar g ir l’ or a ‘w a ll­
flower’ is yontevdik, Mondays and Thursdays are called yom
haknise, ‘urgency’ is nekhitse (a word that should be very wel­
come in the contemporary Yiddish lexicon!), ‘expectation’—
hamtone, a ‘choleric person’ is a sambatyon, a ‘ta ll tale’ a shabes
maase, and ‘black coffee’—mashke y isro e l* Some of these Heb­
raisms differ in their combination w ith German auxiliaries from
contemporary Yiddish usage. Thus we have tsitsis bentshn, hav-
dolo melokhenen, tashlikh makhn, seder gebn, and similar fo r­
mations. New coinages are mechanical translations from the
German, e.g. a ‘railroad ’ is derekh barzel. The impact of Eastern
European Jew ry is fe lt in such Slavic suffixes to Hebrew stems
as miesnik (loathsome person ).
In 1876 appeared J . M. Lifshitz’ Yiddish-Russian dictionary
in Zhitomir. The outstanding feature of this dictionary is the
large number of Slavisms incorporated in Yiddish, about twenty-
five per cent of the total lexicon. It also includes a considerable
number o f international terms. In his introduction the author
admits that he “had to draw words and expressions out of the
air.” He may have had these internationalisms in mind. On the
other hand, the number of Hebraisms has markedly declined.
The author duly notes in his introduction the fluctuations in
*
Observant Jews would confine their orders in non-Jewish inns to black
coffee.