Thursday, July 03, 2008

Speak English! (or pick one)

I was at a wedding recently, and the person announcing the kibudim under the chuppah (i.e., who would be mesader kiddushin, read the ketubah, read each bracha, etc) was speaking a rather interesting mixture of Yiddish, Hebrew and English. For exammple, before saying who would read the first bracha, he said, "For the firsteh bracha . . ."

I ask you, WHAT is THAT. If you are going to speak Hebrew, don't do a halfway job and fall back on your Yiddish-ish rendition of the numbers. If you are going to speak Yiddish, then go all the way. Sheesh.

Although that doesn't compare with THIS little gem:

"Reb Yadda Yadda Yadda, zeideh from the chosson."

Okay. "Zeideh" I understand. That means grandfather. "Chosson" I understand. That means groom. But "from the chosson"? What the heck is that? From the chosson's WHAT? (Let's not get rude.) From his side of the family? SO SAY IT! Or say, "the chosson's zeideh." Or whatever he calls his grandfather.

Bahhhh. When did yeshivish become a grammatically acceptable language?


  1. For the firsteh bracha.

    That is priceless. Living in Boro Park, I hear things like this all day.

    Since I actually took lessons from my grandfather, a Yiddish afficianado, way back in ninth grade, I actually speak a more correct YIddish than some of my own neighbors. For example, when I say, "Venn kimpt eit aheim fun sheila?" they look at me blankly. Their mother clarifies for them, "School." I'm like, hello! Geez, and I don't even use it as my official language. :)

  2. My family LOVES making fun of the "Firsteh bracha".

    My brother has also decried the referencing of Roshei Yeshiva under chuppahs as "Reb so-and-so". It's one thing to refer to (to give a no longer applicable example) Rav Moshe Feinstein as Rav Moshe; it's another to call him up as such.

    As a note, at Chofetz Chaim weddings (my brother is in CC), they would call up Rav Henoch as HaRav or Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz and never as Rav Henoch.

  3. ...

    What's the difference between Rav/HaRav/Reb/Rabbi???

  4. Reb is less formal.

    But the real point is the lack of a last name - talmidim shouldn't be referring to Rabbeim this way, certainly not when announcing their presence.

  5. I can't believe that you wrote about this. This actually happened at my wedding! The mesader kiddushin said "Mechubad mit de firsteh bracha" and I started to laugh. My mom pinched me to stop laughing, but a few minutes later, he said "De uncle froom de kallah" and I started laughing again.
    Jews crack me up.

  6. Superraizy - exactly!!

    Sometimes I feel like I'm too harsh on these people. Like, maybe they're just trying to keep Yiddish alive, you know? Although instead of Yiddish they speak yeshivish. At least Yiddish has actual RULES.

  7. Bloggers dear, if only you would be present at our family table whenever my mother and my uncle, my father's brother, discuss Yiddish and its place in a Jewish life.

    How the blood runs over.... :)

    You can see where the battle over Chassidus starts.... :)

  8. Honestly, as a linguistics person (albeit in another lifetime), this sort of thing (code switching - changes between languages within a sentence) doesn't bother me.

    To me, the purpose of language is to communicate effectively so that you are understood. That goal is accomplished in your example, as is the goal of showing identification with a group by using its terminology. I find it pretty interesting.

  9. But it SOUNDS ridiculous. And it's an easily corrected mistake. Why is it "cool" to sound uneducated?

  10. It's not really a matter of cool- it's just how things are.

    They want to speak Yiddish, as RaggedyMom says, and they really don't take the time to think about it much, so upseedasie- out incorrect grammar goes.

  11. Eh, whatever. No need to drag this out. I still think it sounds ridiculous though :P.

  12. And THAT is how IIIII speak a perfect Yiddish!

    (for all of you who get that...heheh)

  13. Velleh, Ieh thinkeh thereh iseh nothingeh wrongeh witheh Yiddisheh. Not even a shtickle. Or a bissel. Or vatever.

    Icht veis nicht.

    My brother can count to a hundred in Yiddish.

    Okay, I'm falling on my face. Good night. Ezzie, delete this if it sounds like I wrote it in my sleep. Unless you don't think it's too weird.

    Layla tov everyone.

  14. Yinglish is not an "official" branch of the English language. What it appears to be is a patched together patois spoken by those who are not fluent speakers of English, Yiddish and Hebrew. It is their attempt to use "mama loshon," without any real knowledge of what that is. And M, in "For example, when I say, "Venn kimpt eit aheim fun sheila?" there is no "eit" that applies here. It is either "ehr" (he) or "zie" (she). If "you" is what is wanted then use either "du," "dee" or "aich."

    As to the appearance of English words in Yiddish, languages frequently expand by borrowing terminology/vocabulary from other languages. Sometimes the spelling/pronunciation changes and sometimes it doesn't. It's why we have kindergarden and kindergarten both in use in English. And what is the word for "computer" in languages other than English? It is the English "computer." But when a language has a word for something, it is odd to use another language's word for that thing and shows lack of knowledge-- "firsteh" being substituted for "ershter" for instance.

    "De uncle froom de kallah"? An uneducated speaker's attempt at "Ah fetter frum die kallah's zeit."

  15. ProfK-
    yoh, yoh, it vas a typo.

    Erachet- 5 AM?!

  16. I don't hold of this whole grammatical convention shtus. My rebbe, who I learned by, never brought it down, so I certainly don't know from it!

    Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go take a haircut. Hopefully, I will remember to close the light on the way out.

  17. English teacher with strong tendency towards bad usage-induced heart palpitations repeats to herself: "Eliezer was writing tongue in cheek, Eliezer was writing tongue in cheek."

  18. ProfK - oh, he was, don't worry.

  19. Who are you guys EATING BY for shabbos?

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  21. I don't hold of this whole grammatical convention shtus. My rebbe, who I learned by, never brought it down, so I certainly don't know from it!

    Now, if you'll excuse me I have to go take a haircut. Hopefully, I will remember to close the light on the way out.

    I'm in the mood of commenting on your comment.

  22. not exactly yinglish, but my family is obsesses with "yiddish english" (must be read with a yiddish accent):
    throw me down the stairs a towel!
    for supper i roasted my husband a chicken.
    how much will it cost to put me in a toilet?

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  24. That was good. Even I understood it (and my Yiddish is shvach).
    I think it's culturally cute, the way Yiddish and Hebrew (-but more so Yiddish) wormed its way into the vernacular.
    What bugs me, though, is when Yiddish speakers can't spell or write grammatically correct sentences. Writing in poor English reflects badly on us Jews, who are supposed to be a highly literate people, don't you think?
    (wannabe frum, I'm still cracking up from that Yiddish syntax; they are actually Deutsch grammar: the Amish do it too!)

  25. Well duh it's Deutsch- Yiddish is based on Middle High German.

  26. why uneducated - a different vernacular perhaps - but still educated. Everyone else there understood the announcement and didn't feel it violated the grammatical constructs of yeshivish.

    I agree with the linguist who posted here. You have got to learn how to code switch.