A GLOSSARY OF COMMON YIDDISH WORDS
Yiddish is the
language of the Jewish people of Europe. It's origin is found in the
waves of Jewish people who migrated from the Middle East to Europe
during the years spanning 700-1000 C.E. They initially settled in an
area of Germany called Ashkenaz, picked up the local Germanic language
but wrote it out using Hebrew characters. Thus the Yiddish language
consists of three basic components:
There are other
languages developed by Jewish people in specific localities. Best known
is "Ladino", the language of many Jews who lived in southern
Europe (Spain, Greece, etc), the Middle East and North Africa. It is
mostly medieval Spanish written in Hebrew characters. Jewish people who
speak Ladino are known as "Sephardim".
|Yiddish is a highly plastic and
assimilative language, rich in idioms, and possessing remarkable
freshness, pithiness, and pungency. Since it was spoken by ordinary
people rather than by scholars, its vocabulary is weak in abstractions.
It has a wealth of words and expressions descriptive of character and of
relations among people. It makes liberal use of diminutives and terms of
endearment and exhibits a variety of expletives.
The use of proverbs and proverbial expressions is considerable. These qualities and usages give Yiddish a uniquely warm and personal flavor.
In the early years of the 20th century Yiddish was spoken by an estimated 11 million people living mainly in eastern Europe and the U.S. The use of the language has been declining since then. The initial cause was the extermination of the Jewish communities in Poland and other eastern European countries during World War II. An important factor that also contributed to the decline in usage was the adaptation by Jews to the languages predominant in the United States and in the Soviet Union.
In Israel the Hebrew language is predominant, and Yiddish is a second language, cultivated largely by members of the older generation who have an eastern European background; only a few modern Israeli poets write in Yiddish. In an effort to ensure its preservation, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem teaches Yiddish, as do certain American schools and colleges.
Contributed by: Nahum Norbert Glatzer "Yiddish Language," Microsoft (R) Encarta.
Copyright (c) 1994 Microsoft Corporation. Copyright (c) 1994 Funk & Wagnall's Corporation
The one thing I will add to the above, (and a big omission by Encarta), is that Yiddish continues to be used by many thousands of Orthodox Jewish families around the world as their primary language, and so is being used by children in those communities. In Europe before World War II, there were several Yiddish speaking Congregations of Jewish believers in Messiah Yeshua. As a new believer in the 1970's, I met many Jewish believers whose mother tongue was Yiddish.
All 4 of my Grandparents were from Jewish communities in eastern Europe and spoke Yiddish as their 'Mama-Loshan' (mother-tongue). As both my Grandmothers continued to speak mostly Yiddish, my parents understood Yiddish well, but would answer in English. I grew up in Brooklyn hearing many Yiddish words in our house, and so have a warm feeling for this expressive language, even though my own vocabulary is limited. In our Congregation, Beth Messiah, our Board meetings are always sprinkled with Yiddish slang, as most of our leaders grew up in American Jewish homes. And so, with affection, I present this list of common Yiddish words, many of which have found their way into current use in American English, especially around certain neighborhoods in Brooklyn ! May it's use continue & grow in our Messianic Jewish Community !
TUCHUS - your bottom, buttocks. By the 1940's, a slang
version in use was 'tushee', which later was shortened to 'tush',
now in regular use throughout American culture, thanks to
Jewish film makers. Now, aren't you glad you've read this far
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