Page 28 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 44

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16
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
YINGLISH AS MEANS OF COMMUNICATION
At this point, it is perhaps appropriate to note the use o f the
new Orthodox language Yinglish (or Yenglish), which has usually
existed only as a means of oral communication but which occa­
sionally appears as a literary medium, as well. A number of
researchers have commented on the existence of this language,
but to the best of my knowledge, it has yet to be subjected to a
serious linguistic study.16Limited almost exclusively to Orthodox
users and consisting of sentences like “
Takke, my zeide had maftir on
Shabbas HaGaddol”
this Yiddish-like patois, in which many o f the
Germanic elements have been replaced by English ones, contains
curiosities like: (1) words constructed from elements derived
from three different languages, like “he
paskened,”
which has an
English verbal suffix appended to the German verbal ending
-en
that has, in tu rn , been grafted to the Hebrew
pasak\
and
(2) fascinating caiques like “Where are you holding?,”which mis­
appropriates the German or Yiddish
halten
“to stop” in place of
the English cognate “halt.” Yinglish may even exist in slightly dif­
ferent dialects. I know Jewish Theological Seminary graduates
who habitually say “He was
posek”
for “He
paskened
,” thereby
avoiding the German-Yiddish element and simplifying the word.
Modern Hebrew has influenced Yinglish in a number o f ways.
Some words appear in both Ashkenazic and Sefardic pronuncia­
tions that carry two different nuances:
Oneg Shabbat
usually refers
to a party or social gathering held on Friday evening, but
oneg
shabbas
is a concept that describes the pleasures associated with
observing the Sabbath; someone called to the Torah has an
aliya
(penultimate accent), but moving to Israel is called
aliya
(with the
accent on the last syllable). One also finds a certain amount of
confusion between Ashkenazic and Sefardic pronunciation of
a-vowels, the Hebrew letter Tav, and the placement o f the accent,
but full analysis must await another occasion.
I am not sure to what extent use of this language is limited to
males, or if a parallel female dialect exists, but there are many
terms that originate in the technicalities of rabbinic discourse and
can be intelligible only to one schooled in Talmud or the fine
points of halakhah. Use of the language is obviously limited to ini­
16 See, for example, Heilman,
Synagogue Life,
pp. 229-32, and
The Feople of the
Book,
pp. 188, 195.