May 10, 2010

Yiddish for Business

Yiddish for Business   Contrary to popular belief, Yiddish isn’t “Jewish slang” (I hear that a lot).  According to Wikipedia, Yiddish is a basically a High Germanic language with Hebrew influence of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages.  It is written in the Hebrew alphabet.   I don’t speak Yiddish.  Like many American Jews whose families came to America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, my grandparents spoke it somewhat, or at least had a ton of phrases they wove into everyday speech.  Presumably their parents spoke it fluently before coming here and Americanizing their families.  My own parents have a handful of stock phrases down.  My brother and I have even less.   What I like best about Yiddish is that I find it to be a very descriptive and also onomatopoetic language.  I can never verbally describe a Yiddish word without a lengthy description and some examples, and usually some level of gesticulation.  I’ll try to be more succinct below.  But in the end, words mean a lot like what they sound like they should mean.  A […]