Toponymic Names and Judaeo-German #general


MBernet@...
 

In a message dated 9/8/2006 12:00:51 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
jfibel@... writes:

<< Although I respect Michael Bernet's encyclopaedic knowledge of German
history and culture,I find that I have to disagree with one of his recent
postings >>
==I must disagree with Joe, much as I respect him. The encyclopedic
knowledge that I share here is mostly not mine but is on the CDrom version of the
Encyclopedia Judaica that opens up every time I sit down at the computer. I have
a good memory for trivia, a bad memory for tasks due, and an adventurer's
mind that encourages me to put three or four ideas together and watch them
clash and finally coalesce.

<< he said that toponymic surnames were taken by German families only after
their owners had moved >from those communities. , >>
==No, I did not. I can never remember that word, topo-sumthing. I generally
get around it with a synonym or paraphrase. But I'm going to try and remember
it, and save my typing finger. But, initially, Ashkenazi Jews were given
their surnames by their neighbors. They did not generally take them until the
law forced them to choose one.

<< . . . The Memoirs of Glueckel of Hameln, . . . She wrote them in Judeo
German, that is, in German words but in Hebrew characters. . . . .Judeo German
was a West German precursor to Yiddish so in fact this book is the first
Yiddish book by a women. >>
==We must distinguish between four languages: German written in German
characters, German written in Hebrew characters, Judaeo German, and Yiddish.
The first is self explanatory. By and large, most Jews in Germany before
around 1800 -- even the wealthy, highly-placed and well-educated who generally
could speak a high-quality German -- did not write in German letters but used
Hebrew letters for their bookkeeping, correspondence, and literary work. I
have never even seen Glueckel's memoirs in their original language but I would
guess that more than likely she wrote, as Joe states initially, "in German
words but in Hebrew characters."

==Judaeo-German developed out of Medieval German, which is in many ways akin
to the spoken language of today's inhabitants of small towns and villages in
Southern Germany, and to current Swiss and Alsatian dialects. To this
Germanic folk language, German Jews added many Hebrew words reflecting the Jewish
culture--Schabbes (Sabbath), Broches (blessings), Chassne (wedding). They also
introduced many Hebrew words into their language to create a secret language
not easily penetrated by their Christian neighbors, customers or rivals:
Ganeff (thief), Pleite (bankruptcy) and also Die Ische (my wife), Das Bajis (my
house), Sus (horse), Behemes (cattle). Some of these words eventually made it
into today's standard German. In past centuries, many crib sheets were
published by German gentiles to permit traders and villagers to penetrate into the
Jews' secret language. >from around 1800 on, and as Jews moved >from village
to city and rose in German culture and trade, they tended to perfect their
German and to avoid their parents' patois, which they derisively labeled
"Jargon," though retaining many of the Hebrew words in the language that they spoke
in the home and among other Jews.

==Yiddish developed >from the language that German Jews carried with them as
they fled eastwards >from persecution, starting in the 12th century or so. Its
German Jewish content and structure was reinforced by succeeding waves of
persecuted Jews >from German-speaking areas. This Judaified German was
incomprehensible to their Slavic-speaking neighbors, and so Jews no longer needed to
retain many of the Hebrew words in Judaeo-German, and they were quite content
to revert to Germanic words and refer to "dem Hoys" (house) and "dos Veyb" --
even "dem Ferd" (horse).

==Linguists generally reserve the word Yiddish for the language of Jews in
Eastern Europe; some now refer to Judaeo-German etc. as "Western Yiddish"

==To say that Glueckel wrote "the first Yiddish book by a women" is like
saying that Virgil wrote the first French (or Italian) poem.

==You'll notice that no one ever refers to Glueckel Hammeln. That wasn't
her name. Her name was Glueckel. On records before she was married she would
have been known as Glueckel Abba (Abba here stands for her father's given
name). When she married Hayim, she became Glueckel Hayim. Hayim came >from Hammeln,
so when the family moved to Hamburg, they were called "von Hammeln" -- >from
Hammeln. (Some of my acquaintances know me as Michael >from New Rochelle,
others as Michael >from Gersig -- [I guess Joe might also be known as Joe of
Gersig or Joe of New Rochelle but we are not related] but those are names for
identification only; they do not become surnames. When I go home to Israel, some
people remember me as Meir ben Dov of Eilat, or Mykel of Tivyon, but neither
is my surname.

==It was nice to be reminded by Joe how many of Glueckel's children married
so well. As was the custom of those times, other people attached a town or
village name to a newcomer, stranger, or son-in-law. But naming the town where
they had lived prior to the wedding does not constitute a spouse's family
name. The custom of defining people by name and location was still common quite
recently among German Jews, witness my frugal grandfather's telegram >from
England to his daughter in Israel, Oct. 11, 1948 concerning the engagement of
my sister "Masseltof Erna verlobt EierKahn SilberPosen Frankfurt (Erna engaged
egg-Kahn silver-Posen Frankfurt) -- naming the groom's parentage by family
name and trade and their location--without mentioning the groom; of course my
aunt had no idea who these people were nor did she care -- she was expected
to appreciate that it was a "good" match into a "good" family.

<< Glueckel's father was >from Hameln and so his and her surname became
Hameln. >>
==Not so. Her father's name is not listed, but the EncJud says that she
married Hayyim of Hammeln. Soon after the marriage they moved to Hamburg where,
most probably, he -- and she -- were invested by their new neighbors as the
Hammeln family.

==Joe goes on to mention other notable people, all known by their hometown
name. This was indeed common. We've all heard of the Lubbovitscher rebbe, the
Belzer, Sotmerer, Bobover . . . . In Germany, there was Rabbi Emden. In the
USA der Bostoner. Rabbi Bamberger in Germany (>from Wiesenbronn) was known as
Der Wuerzburger Rov after the town where he officiated. Important people were
often known by the town or region where they exerted influence. In the US
Senate, we have the junior and the senior "Senator >from New York" as well as 31
congresspeople each known by the congressional district number and state

==One important point is that until Jews were required to assume surnames,
they generally didn't. Many, however, accepted the names others applied to
them, names that reflected trades, personal qualities, physical appearance and
yes, indeed, Toponymics. However, thee tonspeople awared these toponymics not
to everyone who lived in that town (it would not have been very useful to
surname every Hammel Jews as Hammeln -- it was only when they moved to Hamburg
that Glueckel and Hayyim that Hammeln became significant and they were known
as the von Hammeln.

==another point: Princelings and landowners were often known by the area
where they held sway, but von, van, and de mean simply "of" or "from" and are no
indicators of nobility.

Michael Bernet, New York


Judith Romney Wegner
 

At 11:25 PM -0700 9/9/06, Jules Levin wrote:

==Judaeo-German developed out of Medieval German, which is in many ways akin
to the spoken language of today's inhabitants of small towns and villages in
Southern Germany, and to current Swiss and Alsatian dialects. To
this Germanic folk language, German Jews added many Hebrew words
reflecting the Jewish culture--Schabbes (Sabbath), Broches (blessings),
Chassne (wedding). They also introduced many Hebrew words into their
language to create a secret language not easily penetrated by their
Ganeff (thief), Pleite (bankruptcy) and also Die Ische (my wife),
Christian neighbors, customers or rivals: Das Bajis (my house),
Sus (horse), Behemes (cattle).
There has obviously been considerable influence of Yiddish on the
English language, especially in America -- but also in England. I
had assumed that the English slang term "copper" for a policeman came
from the Yiddish word khapper -- someone who khaps you (i.e.
grabs you or collars you). But it turns out, disappointingly, that
"to cop" was also North-country English slang for to catch or grab.
Wasn't khapper the Yiddish term for the police officer who went
around grabbing young Russian Jews off the street to enlist them in
the Czar's army?

Judith Romney Wegner

MODERATOR NOTE: This discussion has veered away >from genealogy.
Responses with a direct connection to genealogy will be considered
for posting. Others should be sent privately.


Jules Levin
 

At 02:11 PM 9/8/2006, you wrote:

==We must distinguish between four languages: German written in German
characters, German written in Hebrew characters, Judaeo German, and Yiddish.
The first is self explanatory. By and large, most Jews in Germany before
around 1800 -- even the wealthy, highly-placed and well-educated who generally
could speak a high-quality German -- did not write in German letters but used
Hebrew letters for their bookkeeping, correspondence, and literary work.
This as I recall included the first Rothschild's wife, who even in old age
wrote to her sons, already heading financial empires in London, Paris,
Frankfort, Vienna (I think there was a son-in-law in Italy also),
in German in Hebrew characters.

I have never even seen Glueckel's memoirs in their original language but I would
guess that more than likely she wrote, as Joe states initially, "in German
words but in Hebrew characters."

==Judaeo-German developed out of Medieval German, which is in many ways akin
to the spoken language of today's inhabitants of small towns and villages in
Southern Germany, and to current Swiss and Alsatian dialects. To this Germanic
folk language, German Jews added many Hebrew words reflecting the Jewish
culture--Schabbes (Sabbath), Broches (blessings), Chassne (wedding). They also
introduced many Hebrew words into their language to create a secret language
not easily penetrated by their Christian neighbors, customers or rivals:
Ganeff (thief), Pleite (bankruptcy) and also Die Ische (my wife), Das Bajis (my
house), Sus (horse), Behemes (cattle).

This secret language in fact became the basis, or at least strongly
influenced, criminal jargon in much of Europe, including England.
Several years ago at a semiotics conference in Berkeley, a young
woman gave a paper on a dictionary of criminal jargon compiled
by the police chief of Berlin in the 19th Century. In the introduction,
the chief quotes a "saying" of the criminals about keeping their
jargon secret. I will translate the German (as that is how I have
stored it in my memory): Never teach the loshen kodesh to the
goyim. There were many fascinating examples in the paper, but
the only one that stuck in my mind (make of it what you will)
is "mezuzah" for a prostitute. Why? Because it stands up in the
doorway, and you kiss it!
The role of Jews in the pre-20th Century underworld has, for better or
worse, been largely forgotten by the Jewish community,
and thankfully by most gentiles as well.
Jules Levin