May 4th, 2020 § 0 comments

Yiddish was the language of Ashkenazi Jews. Scorned by Zionists who felt it echoed the European ghettoes, they replaced it with Modern Hebrew. However diminished (millions of Yiddish speakers were murdered in the Holocaust), Yiddish lingers on. There is a splendid body of literature (and much poetry) in Yiddish. I.B. Singer, Nobel prize winner, was one of many important writers whose work was in Yiddish. HG’s late Mom. was born Ida Kopkind in a Belorussian “shtetl” in the Minsk province. She spent the majority of her life in Bronx apartments before her death in a nursing home. Yiddish is a very flexible language, reflecting the nomadic life of Jews in the diaspora. Mom adapted Yiddish into a language HG calls “Yinglish.” How did Mom identify her apartment house neighbors? The woman next door was the “nextdoorehkeh.” And, so on: “upstezzehkeh”, “downstezzehkeh”, “groundfloorehkeh”. An unsavory person was a “nogoodnik.” A flighty young woman, possibly free with her favors, was a “bummerkeh.” Mom Yinglishized geography. HG’s family lived in “Duh Bronix”. Relatives lived in “Brunzevlle” (the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn). A non sequitur: Mom was very gracious when it came to complimenting unmarried women. No matter how unsightly, Mom would always focus on a desirable feature. About a spinster with a face like a potato, Mom pointed out: “She has lovely hands.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What's this?

You are currently reading Yinglish at HUNGRY GERALD.