The New York City Public Schools have officially declared Jewish English, now dubbed Hebronics, as a second language. Backers of the move say the city schools are the first in the nation to recognize Hebronics as a valid language and a significant attribute of American culture.
According to Howard Ashland, linguistics professor at Brooklyn College and renowned Hebronics scholar, the sentence structure of Hebronics derives from middle and eastern European language patterns, as well as Yiddish.
Professor Shulman explains,
"In Hebronics, the response to any question is usually another question with a complaint that is either implied or stated.
Thus 'How are you?' may be answered,
'How should I be, with my bad feet?' "
Shulman says that Hebronics is a superb linguistic vehicle for expressing sarcasm or skepticism. An example is the repetition of a word with "sh" or "shm" at the beginning: "Mountains, shmountains. Stay away. You should want a nosebleed?"
Another Hebronics pattern is moving the subject of a sentence to the end, with its pronoun at the beginning: "It's beautiful, that dress."
Shulman says one also sees the Hebronics verb moved to the end of the sentence. Thus the response to a remark such as "He's slow as a turtle," could be: "Turtle, shmurtle! Like a fly in Vaseline he walks."
Shulman provided the following examples from his best-selling textbook, Switched-On Hebronics:
Question: "What time is it?"
English answer: "Sorry, I don't know."
Hebronic response: "What am I, a clock?"
Remark: "I hope things turn out okay."
English answer: "Thanks."
Hebronic response: "I should be so lucky!"
Remark: "Hurry up. Dinner's ready."
English answer: "Be right there."
Hebronic response: "All right already, I'm coming.
What's with the 'hurry' business? Is there a fire?"
Remark: "I like the tie you gave me; I wear it all the time."
English answer: "Glad you like it."
Hebronic response: "So what's the matter; you don't like the other ties I gave you?"
Remark: "Sarah and I are engaged."
English answer: "Congratulations!" Hebronic response: "She could stand to lose a few pounds."
Question: "Would you like to go riding with us?"
English answer: "Just say when."
Hebronic response: "Riding, shmiding! Do I look like a cowboy?"
To the guest of honor at a birthday party:
English answer: "Happy birthday."
Hebronic response: "A year smarter you should become."
Remark: "It's a beautiful day."
English answer: "Sure is."
Hebronic response: "So the sun is out; what else is new?"
Answering a phone call from a son:
English answer: "It's been a while since you called."
Hebronic response: "You didn't wonder if I'm dead already?"