The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .

These are the LETTERS OF MY THOUGHTS.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yiddish

It's interesting to note, that many of the most famous Yiddish words (those known by even people who don't speak Yiddish) do not come from German.

  1. Mishuga
  2. Chutzpah
  3. Pogrom
  4. Bentch (From old French)
  5. Davven
  6. Shikur
  7. Mayven
  8. Shaigetz/Shiktz
More:
  1. Schmooze (from the Hebrew Shemu'os -news)
  2. Bubbe/Zaide
  3. Chullent (from the French for 'slow cooking' -or Shul Ent in yiddish)
  4. Kuggel (From the Hebrew K'aigel -circular)

Ben said...

The consensus among linguists is that daven is Romance origin (like bentsh and West Yiddish orn), although there is a bit of doubt. It is almost definitely not from Aramaic, though, for two reasons: 1. it isn't spelled like the Aramaic word, and 2. It is pretty common for there to be creative invented etymology tracing Yiddish words to Hebrew and Aramaic. I heard one for chreyn (horseradish) that I forget, but it held that it was roshe-teyvos for something. It isn't; it's Slavic, plain and simple.

Anyways, there are plenty of well-known Yiddish words of Germanic origin as well: shlep, bagel, mentsh, nosh, oy vey, shtick, as well as all the famous shmutsik words (as well as shmutz itself). But the non-Germanic ones are overrepresented, it's true. This is probably because they are the words that are deeply rooted in Ashkenazic culture, so just as Jews retained them when they entered German-speaking lands, so they kept them in America.

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This could be connected (perhaps slightly al derech hatzachos) to the Rebbe's teaching that T'fillah does not mean prayer (but rather to connect etc.)
i.e. that Jews of those times had found a certain meaning inherent in their older language that could not be translated into the new one.


10 comments:

yechiel said...

Do you have a source for the origin of Daven? It sounds rather suspect and urban legend-like to me.

Mottel said...

I heard it in Misivta form the rebbe who taught us Brachos . . . I don't remember the sefer he said from which it came -I do admit that it may be the source, but regardless, it doesn't seem to be of Germanic orgin

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I remember reading that daven is Slavic or Baltic, which is why in Western Yiddish they say ohr instead, from Latin.

If it were from Aramaic it'd be spelled in Aramaic, not according to Yiddish phonetic spelling.

Ben said...

The consensus among linguists is that daven is Romance origin (like bentsh and West Yiddish orn), although there is a bit of doubt. It is almost definitely not from Aramaic, though, for two reasons: 1. it isn't spelled like the Aramaic word, and 2. It is pretty common for there to be creative invented etymology tracing Yiddish words to Hebrew and Aramaic. I heard one for chreyn (horseradish) that I forget, but it held that it was roshe-teyvos for something. It isn't; it's Slavic, plain and simple.

Anyways, there are plenty of well-known Yiddish words of Germanic origin as well: shlep, bagel, mentsh, nosh, oy vey, shtick, as well as all the famous shmutsik words (as well as shmutz itself). But the non-Germanic ones are overrepresented, it's true. This is probably because they are the words that are deeply rooted in Ashkenazic culture, so just as Jews retained them when they entered German-speaking lands, so they kept them in America.

Mottel said...

Re aramiac spelling, shecht, coming from shchita, is often spelled in yiddish.
but in all truth, the d'avuhon bit is more likely in the realm of drush.
About Roshi Teyvos, my last (Lightstone), was at one time Kasdin -which is thought to be a roshie teyvos of the ma'amar chazal 'Kohanim Shluchim D'rachmana ninhu' . . . though infact there is no (known) kahuna in me.
It is interesting to note that in Ladino the word to pray is of Arabic origin, note Spanish

Does anybody know about the word Frum?

Ben said...

Good point about "shecht." In fact there are a handful or so of words like that in Yiddish that are spelled phonetically, obscuring their Semitic roots (like opmekn, "to erase," or tomer, "maybe") so the spelling doesn't bring a raya.

Frum is Germanic; there's a cognate word in German "fromm" meaning basically the same thing lehavdil.

Mottel said...

Being here in eastern europe, I've noticed that a good deal of adjectives in Yiddish are slavic in origin (Pust, prust etc.)
It seems that they are more commen then nouns . . . though I haven't given much thought in that direction.

chvh said...

You will vind in the Amsterdam dailect a lot of Yiddishe words, like for example:
yutje is ten euro, smeris is a police man, Chochem means a smart person ect.
You have a book with around 100 pages with all the Yiddish words in the Amsterdam dailect

Dave said...

Kugel comes from the German word for ball.

Frum comes from the same root as the words "prim" and "prime".

Mottel said...

I stand corrected . . . it's probably another of the "purim Torahs" (it is that time of the year, you know) that I've heard.
Anyone have any other words that DO fit into the above group?