Thursday, January 7, 2010

It's Not Yiddish; It's Not Ladino; It's Yeshivish!

At Jewish Humor Central we try to cover the universe of Jewish activity, and sometimes that includes words, phrases, or sentences in languages other than English.  Hebrew and Yiddish expressions are typically woven into many of the blog posts because they are an integral part of many of the stories that we report from newspapers, websites, and blogs in America, Israel, and throughout the world.

We've noticed that a new dialect is emerging in stories from some of our most quotable sources -- a dialect that, while related to English, Hebrew, and Yiddish, has blossomed into a full-fledged language with all its grammatical and usage trappings.  The new dialect is Yeshivish.

While Yeshivish is not really new, until recently it stayed beneath the surface for everyone but the yeshiva students, their families, and their teachers.  As websites, blogs, and online newspapers and magazines cover more and more news from the haredi and yeshiva worlds, and some of the more interesting items emanate from these sources, we thought that it's time to give the dialect some attention.  It's only fair to let our readers know that some of the terms that we italicize are not Hebrew or Yiddish, but Yeshivish, and that's why you won't find them in Hebrew or Yiddish dictionaries.  But you will find them in Frumspeak -- the First Dictionary of Yeshivish, by Chaim M. Weiser.  A concise description of the dialect, its origins, basic grammar, and relation to other languages can be found in Wikipedia.

According to Weiser, 
Yeshivish is not a pidgin, creole, or an independent language, nor is it precisely a jargon. He refers to it instead, with tongue-in-cheek, as a shprach, a Yiddish word meaning "language" or "rapport".
In addition to the A-to-Z dictionary and rules of grammar, Weiser offers Yeshivish translations of some familiar documents.  What follows are the original English texts of the Pledge of Allegiance and Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and their Yeshivish translations:


I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands: one Nation under God, indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for all.
I am meshabed myself, b'li neder, to hold shtark to the siman of the United States of America and to the medina which is gufa its tachlis; one festa chevra, b'ezras Hashem, echad ve'yuchid, with simcha and erlichkeit for the gantza oilam.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. 

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 
Be'erech a yoivel and a half ago, the meyasdim shtelled avek on this makom a naiya malchus with the kavana that no one should have bailus over their chaver, and on this yesoid that everyone has the zelba zchusim.
We're holding by a geferliche machloikes being machria if this medina, or an andere medina made in the same oifen and with the same machshovos, can have a kiyum. We are all mitztaref on the daled amos where a chalois of that machloikes happened in order to be mechabed the soldiers who dinged zich with each other. We are here to be koiveia chotsh a chelek of that karka as a kever for the bekavodike soldiers who were moiser nefesh and were niftar to give a chiyus to our nation. Yashrus is mechayev us to do this.
Lemaise, hagam the velt won't be goires or machshiv what we speak out here, it's zicher not shayach for them to forget what they tued uf here. We are mechuyav to be meshabed ourselves to the melocha in which these soldiers made a haschala--that vibalt they were moiser nefesh for this eisek, we must be mamash torud in it--that we are all mekabel on ourselves to be moisif on their peula so that their maisim should not be a bracha levatulla-- that Hashem should give the gantze oilam a naiya bren for cheirus-- that a nation that shtams by the oilam, by the oilam, by the oilam, will blaib fest ahd oilam.

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