Jtube: 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Is there value in still knowing Yiddish today?

Is there value in still knowing Yiddish today?

This video encourages the discussion of Jewish values as they relate to contemporary culture. Jewlarious does not endorse any particular film.

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Comments (2)

(2) Anonymous, June 19, 2013 3:00 PM

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(1) Jeff G in Thornhill, June 18, 2013 10:47 PM

situational value

As your video clip proves, there's definite value in knowing Yiddish today -- or at least keeping up with your basic Yiddish terminology -- especially if you're likely to find yourself in a spelling bee.

Which reminds me of an Asian friend who used to play on a trivia team that competed weekly at a local pub. He was their Jewish/Yiddishist expert (because some of his best friends really ARE Jewish). He related to me many of the questions that stumped the house, from week to week, which might have been easy points for a player with a European Jewish / Yiddish background (e.g. "During the ritual of 'koppores', what animal are you swinging over your head?" -- My friend didn't know the answer to that one, but assured his teammates that he didn't know any Jews strong enough to hoist a cow skyward).

Yiddish has certainly become part of the North American vernacular. The language may not continue to survive intact, outside of Haredi (ultra-orthodox) communities, but dozens of Yiddish words have found their way into everyday English parlance. The Inuit may have 40 words to describe snow; but European Jews had at least as many Yiddish words for the colourful variety of schlemiels, schlimazels, dreykops , goyishe kops, nahrs, nebbishes, nudniks, choleryehs, bandyts, barimers, beheymehs, bulvans, bohmers, shikkers, shmoes, schleppers, schlumps, zhlubs, shmucks [pardon!] , shmendriks, shnorrers, shmegegehs, shvitzers, shvuntzes and other shtinkers and shtunkers in their midst!

You will hear many of these and other (less insulting) Yiddish words used in daily conversation, among Jews and non-Jews alike. According to the entertainment industry, anyway, this is especially true in the New York area.

So zay gezunt, Yiddish, and zol tzoyn mit mazel! We’ll be hearing from you yet.


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