Sunday, April 02, 2006
Ya Ya Yiddish!!
I LOVE YIDDISH.
There, I've said it.
Interestingly enough, I've always thought it to be the most beautiful language in the world because of our cultural history that is translated through its vocabulary. A vocabulary that cannot, in fact, always be translated to English. Some of the words and expressions work in this Germanic/Hebrew mother tongue, but one grasps for the words in English with which to define.
And believe me when I say "Lost in Translation" means much more than an offbeat film title featuring Bill Murray.
Not too long ago I worked on a freelance project -- a book featuring Yiddish curses. OY, OY, and a triple OY. To think that people in the old country -- and new! -- actually threw around some of these wonderful witty sayings is beyond me. Here is a sampling of some of the types of curses people threw/still throw around.
My father, who comes from shtetl-town Poland, hadn't even heard some of the expressions that I questioned him about. He explained that many would be 1) either REALLY old and not in use anymore or 2) they were particular to regions and not widely used
When I surf the Net or seek particular info, I often stumble upon wonderful Web sites that I normally wouldn't read about or hear about.
Tonight, lucky me discovered this site -- and as I was doing other computer work, I listened to bits and pieces of offered radio programs, listed in the GEMS column. I was smiling the whole time.
For me, it's a world gone by that's being depicted. The language has survived, but many of its people have not, which is bittersweet.
Please take a moment to check out the Yiddish Radio Project. Just tell them your Yiddishe Mama sent you...
And for those inquiring minds...no, I never learned Yiddish; my knowledge is pretty good, but it's based on what I've picked up while listening to others speak it. When I open my mouth to speak what I think is German or Swiss, I'm told it's Yiddish I'm speaking.