Matronymics and the way Zayin is pronounced #general
In a message dated 3/5/2006 3:57:16 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
< . . . I am not able to
say how often a name like e.g. "Suskind" originated with the Slavic
"-kin- suffix and later picked up a final "D" >from Yiddish influence,
or how often "Suskin" originated with the Yiddish "-kind" and later
dropped the final "D". It's an interesting question, and I wish I did
know. . . . >
==In Germanic countries (where "Western Yiddish" was the rule), Suskind,
Susmann, Susel etc are almost invariably written with an initial Samekh or Sin,
pronounced "s." (Z in German is invariably pronounced "ts"--like Tsadeh in
Hebrew. There is no sound in the German language that resembles the Z in
"zero." Zayin is pronounced "S" by German Jews (except by Sfardim, I would
assume). the word Zion is pronounce Tziyon" by West European Jews, as it is in
==In Yiddish, Suskind, Susmann, Susel etc are almost invariably written with
an initial zayin and pronounced "z"; In German, they were pronounced with an
initial S and written with a Samekh.
==Beider, who uses the YIVO standard transliteration for Yiddish, lists
these Aus- names under Ziskind, Zismann, Zisl etc.
==If the name Suskin were a matronymic we would have to assume a mother
named Susan or Susi, written with an initial zayin. But that is not the case;
they have the initial shin, pronounced Sh. Suskin[d] or Zuskin[d] cannot be
derived >from a woman's name.
==I think, though, that we can close the gap in opinions. Yiddish is based
largely on the language of medieval German Jews. The majority of first names
in Yiddish-speaking areas were developed by, or transmitted by German Jews.
It was German Jews who developed the Suesskind name based on the German
noun, Kind. It was East European Jews who developed the matronymics that are
based on the Slavic suffix "kin." Folk etymology caused a blending between the
two causing the Slavic "kin" to gain a "d" and become "kind" and the German
"kind" to lose a "d." and become Slavicized.
==I hope no one is offended by the unintentional tartey-mashmeh
==Michael Bernet, New York
Robert Israel <israel@...>
In article <email@example.com>, <MBernet@aol.com> wrote:
There is no sound in the German language that resembles the Z inI hesitate to question Michael's knowledge of German, but I was taught
that a single s before a vowel (as in "sie" or "Hase") is pronounced as
the English z in "zero". It certainly sounds that way to me when I hear
German. I this a question of regional differences?
Robert Israel firstname.lastname@example.org
Vancouver, BC, Canada
In a message dated 3/6/2006 11:23:24 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
email@example.com writes, in response to my statement:
There is no sound in the German language that resembles the Z in "zero."< I hesitate to question Michael's knowledge of German, but I was taught
< that a single s before a vowel (as in "sie" or "Hase") is pronounced as
< the English z in "zero". It certainly sounds that way to me when I
< hear German. I this a question of regional differences?
==Mea culpa! I was just half-way through the third grade when I left
Germany . . . It would have been more correct for me to say Hebrew, as
pronounced by Jews in Germany and Western Europe, pronounced the letter zayin
with an S sound, indistinguishable >from samekh or sin. And the letter Z in
German, was always pronounced "ts," whether at the beginning, the middle or
the end of a word.
==I thank Robert Israel for pointing out to me the fact that the
z-as-in-zero sound is actually heard in German. I wondered whether it was
regional (I was born and schooled in middle Franconia) and to test it, I
stuck the tip of my tongue between my teeth and quickly withdrew it as I
said "Sie" and "Sonne" and discovered that the z-as-in-zero sound did not
sound alien to me--but it worked neither for Samstag nor for Sontag. Did we
have that sound in our home and school, or had it become familiar to me from
hearing all those unFrankish people in the decades since?
==One plausible alternative: The z-as-in-zero sound did not obtain in
Judaeo-German, the prototypical Yiddish, and since it was a relatively lesser
occurrence in speech, it was not acquired by those whose environment (in the
synagogue or in the countryside) did not use it.
==Come to think of it, my mother could hold us in stitches when she told us
how, on her visit to her sister's in-laws in Hungary, she would be addressed
as "Du ~Z~ ue ~z~ e" [~z~ like z in zero]
==Which is really where I entered the argument, about the origin of the
names Sussman and Suskind which, I think, are never pronounced with an
Michael Bernet, New York