Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Language Shmanguage! You Shouldn't Know from it.

There are two languages: Yiddish, and Yiddish-in-English. Although they appear to be the same language, these two languages actually have completely different vocabularies and are spoken by completely different segments of the population. To lessen the miscommunication between the Yiddish speakers and the Yiddish-in-English speakers, I have prepared definitions of the most easily confused words.

Mamzer (noun)
Yiddish: a bastard. That mamzer salesman tried to rip me off!

Yiddish-in-English: a smart, shrewd individual. My genius nephew! Such a smart little mamzer!

Chutzpah (noun)
Yiddish: insolence, impudence, the least desirable of character traits. Then he has the chutzpah to tell me that I need to pay for shipping!

Yiddish-in-English: guts. My nephew has the chutzpah it takes to be a good salesman.

Oy Vey (interjection)
Yiddish: Oh no. His check bounced? Oy vey!

Yiddish-in-English: I'm Jewish! You also read Phillip Roth? Oy vey!

Goy (noun)
Yiddish: non-Jew. My neighbors are all Goyim.

Yiddish-in-English: a pejorative word for non-Jew. Speakers of Yiddish-in-English never use the word "Goy" themselves. They only refer to other people using the word "Goy." The Hasids act aloof around the "Goyim."

Shvartze (noun)
Yiddish: African-American. My Mexican cleaning lady was deported. But I found a new one, a shvartze.

Yiddish-in-English: Like "Goy" this word is only used when quoting a Yiddish speaker. And then my old senile mother started to scream, "Get that shvartze out of here!"

Meshuga (noun)
Yiddish: crazy. That guy is meshuga.

Yiddish-in-English: crazy, but not just crazy. It's like... ummmm. You can't explain it in English. It just what we call in Yiddish "meshuga." That guy is meshuga.

That's all folks!


  1. Oy vey, what a meshuga post, now all the goyishe shvartzes will think your being chutzpadik, but we know your really just being the genius mamzer that you are!

  2. Uh huh. I thought you were talking about the people who speak Yiddish to their kids but really are just translating straight English sentence structure in their head...

  3. Have you ever read "Born to Kvetch"?

  4. Dovid: Oy. Such tzores we need like a hole the head.

    le7: ...then you learned otherwise.

    Sarabonne: some of it. Did you ever read "The Joys of Yiddish"?

    Mottel: I have nothing to say about your comment. But I didn't want to ignore you.

  5. I read bits of it back when I lived at home.

  6. I am laughing.

    Good post. No, actually great post :P

    Just for TRS's benefit... "There are two languages" Really, only two?


  7. Another example of Yiddish-in-English not being like YiddishMay 8, 2009 at 11:59 AM

    I just bumped into facebook group called "fans of Jews." On the side they write, "Don't be a shmuck. Let's be friends."


Forth shall ye all hold.