Time For A Yiddish Lesson

December 8th, 2014 § 0 comments

The recent post on HG’s long ago Bar Mitzvah posed a challenge to those unfamiliar with Yiddish pronunciation. The ultimate hazard is the proper way to say ch. No, it is not pronounced like “charm” or “change” or “chance.” Thus, the word bucher is not pronounced similar to Sidney “Bechet” or like “butcher” with the elimination of the “t”. In Yiddish “ch” is a guttural sound. Like clearing your throat. It is the “ch” of challah (the egg bread baked with a distinctive twist and consumed on the Sabbath) and other essential culinary words such as chrain (horseradish, the eternal companion of gefilte fish). The sound is hard to master. Even BSK, a trained actress and perfect elocutionist, took some time to make the sound. Of course, after decades of marriage to HG, BSK’s Yiddish “ch” is as good as that of Molly Picon, the late, great star of the Yiddish musical stage. Many Yiddish words have entered common English usage. The only “ch” word that has gained popularity is chutzpah (nervy, arrogant behavior). HG grew up in a Yiddish speaking home. The language was often combined with English in a colorful conglomerate that could be dubbed “Yinglish.” When HG’s parents discussed topics forbidden to little HG like sex they spoke in Russian. The little fellow thought the language sounded musical.


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