Re: yiddish in Czech lands--and all over Europe #austria-czech


In a message dated 2/12/2005 1:51:13 AM Eastern Standard Time,
jonora@... writes:

< In the prewar years, the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia spoke both German (
the older generations ) and Czech and since 1918, the creation of the
Czechoslovak Republic, Czech. I was born in 1930 and spoke only Czech.
My mother's mother tongue of Czech and my father's German.`As many Jews
were members of professions and akademia , speaking properly was a
sign of ones education.

< However, back to the book by Ruth Bondy. The vocabulary lists and
explains words which are partly of Yiddish, Hebrew, Czech and
German origins. just a
few examples:

< "mecie" goods purchased at a law price
"kile" the Jewish Community
"ganef" thief, bad person
"herzensganef" thief of hearts ( a cute kid )
"sejchl" a bright brain >

==Jews in Bohemia, Moravia and Slovakia had tended to view themselves as
Germanic by culture and by language, to the same extent almost as
Jews who were born in Prussia, Bavaria or Austria. Being "German" had a
special cachet under the Austrian Empire (until it broke up after 1918), and
was good for business, for gaining respect >from government officials, and
for making a good match.

==The words in the cited list are identical to words used by German Jews when
speaking among themselves in Juedisch-Deutsch. The cited words are all
Hebrew (OK, the herzen in herzensganef is German)

==Some of the words were obviously transliterated for Czech use. An
appropriate English transliteration would be:

* metziah, "something found" in Hebrew, hence "a bargain."
* Kehilah, a community or congregation
* ganaf (hence the half-German herzensganef), a thief, sometimes used
jocularly, sometimes extended to include a dishonest person
* Seykhel, wisdom, wit or intelligence in Hebrew

==these words (and many other words of Hebrew origin) were all used
regulalry, with slight variants in pronunciation, and integrated
into the speech used by Ashkenazi Jews among themselves, all the way >from
Dublin to Moscow. Some of them even became part of the German language
and can be found in German dictionaries today. They are still used in
the USA by Jews who do not speak Yiddish, and many can be found in
popular English-English dictionaries. Many are also used by Gentiles,
especially in heavily Jewish locations or trades.

==In some trades in Europe, the use of Hebrew words allowed Jews to create a
"secret" language--useful when two or more Jews were engaged in a sale with a
Gentile. Cattle dealers, pelt dealer, horse dealers, hop merchants and many
other trades used to publish glossaries for non-Jews so as to overcome the Jews'

==Since 1945, many European towns have published glossaries of Jewish terms
as part of recording their histories. In one Bavarian town, Schopfloch,
everyone in the village used to speak the local variant of Juedisch-Deutsch,
many even through the time of the Nazis. The use faded away for a few years
but was then revived and the language, Lochudisch, has become a source of
town pride, with the help of clubs, classes and historians and even the
soccer team and local businesses have borrowed words or even their
names >from this long-lasting Hebrew-German creole.

Michael Bernet, New York

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