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The meaning of Memeh Fryme #galicia #yiddish


Zev Cohen
 

A female relative who lived in the area of Borszczow in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was called 'Meemeh Fryme'. I understand that Fryme is a given name meaning devout. Can anyone help me with the apparently Yiddish word 'Meemeh'? Is it a name or something like 'granny'?
Zev Cohen


Kalman Appel
 

I believe it means “Aunt” in Hungarian. --
Kalman Appel



Adam Turner
 

There's at least one recent thread on a Facebook genealogy forum about this topic, in which the consensus seems to be that "Mima" is also acceptable Yiddish for "aunt": https://www.facebook.com/groups/tracingthetribe/permalink/10158331319000747/ 

I'd be curious if anyone can chime in on some of the regional lexical distinctions that might exist here, as well as whether it's typical for Yiddish speakers to use different familiar Yiddish terms for an aunt vs. a great-aunt and an uncle vs. a great-uncle. My maternal grandfather, whose mother was from Tulchin in Podolia gubernia, referred to his maternal great-aunt as "Mima Sura". (As far as I know, his aunts were referred to with the English "Aunt" - not sure why, but I'd guess it was that they were likely more Americanized than his great-aunt, since they'd come to the US as children.) My maternal grandmother's family was from Minkovitz, also in Podolia about 80 miles to the west of Tulchin, and yet either she, or her mother, referred to her great-aunts as "Tante Masha" and "Tante Rose." 

Adam Turner


yitschok@...
 

The following are all translations for "aunt" that were used by Jewish immigrants.
Meema/Miami (Yiddish)
Tanta (German/Dutch) 
Néni (Hungarian) 

These were probably used according to the origin of the aunt or the family. 

Although you would add a word for great-aunt  like elter-meema in Yiddish or Großtante in German etc., they were called by the single word of aunt, like you would say aunty/auntie even for a great-aunt.


Yitschok Margareten  


Ellen Slotoroff Zyroff
 

Thanks for the link to the discussion on this topic on "Tracing the Tribe" Facebook page. There I saw a posting of a variation, "THE Meema," a variation I heard my paternal grandparents use in referring to the woman of a quite diminutive elderly couple,  I'm wondering whether the usage, "The Meema," had a connotation, perhaps of respect or status by virtue of age or status. I don't know whether this couple were indeed an aunt and uncle / great aunt and great uncle of relatives in Philadelphia, where they lived.. Likely so. In English, I've never heard an aunt or a great aunt or an elderly cousin, old or young, referred to as "THE Aunt," without the use of a first name. I can't remember what her husband was called, other than his designation was a matching epithet, "THE Meema and THE????" I'm not sure I ever actually met them, but I remember a photo of them. Both very, very short people, perhaps midgets. Until the current discussion, it seemed to me as a kid, hearing them always referred to together as "The Meema and The.....," and never hearing those designations used for anyone else, that their twin epithets were somehow a form of respect due to their elderliness and even due to a perceived vulnerability. These relatives would most likely have been from the Ukraine area, perhaps from near a village, Michalovka, near Chernobyl; perhaps from Chernigov or Kiev or elsewhere in the region close to the Dnieper River.  

Ellen Slotoroff Zyroff

Researching: 
PISTERMAN  (Otaki/Atiki/Utik, Soroki, Bessarabia/Northern Moldova); 
ROTH  (Otaki/Atiki, Bessarabia/Northern Moldova); 
ZOLOTOROV/SLOTOROFF  (Chernigov / Kiev, Ukraine); 
LEVINE (Michalovka (near Chernobyl), Ukraine; Minsk); 
CHARKOVSKY/SHARKOVSKY (Ukraine); 
BLAUSTEIN (Ukraine); 
RIBNICK (Sharashova (Sherishow), Grodno gubernia, Belarus); 
SHEINISS (Sharashova, Grodno,Belarus); 
ROGOWITZ (Sharashova, Grodno Gubernia, Belarus); 
ZYRO (Zabolotiv, Sniatyn, Galicia; Szczebreszyn, Lublin gubernia, Poland); 
TESLER (Horokhiv, Wolyn,Western Ukraine);
LIMON (Berestechko, Horochiv, Wolyn, Western Ukraine); 
TAU (Zabolotiv, Ukraine);TAL (Kibbutz Gat, Israel); 
KRANTZ (Ukraine); 
GLUSKIN (Ukraine), 

On Thursday, September 10, 2020, 01:41:42 AM PDT, Adam Turner <adam.d.turner@...> wrote:


There's at least one recent thread on a Facebook genealogy forum about this topic, in which the consensus seems to be that "Mima" is also acceptable Yiddish for "aunt": https://www.facebook.com/groups/tracingthetribe/permalink/10158331319000747/ 

I'd be curious if anyone can chime in on some of the regional lexical distinctions that might exist here, as well as whether it's typical for Yiddish speakers to use different familiar Yiddish terms for an aunt vs. a great-aunt and an uncle vs. a great-uncle. My maternal grandfather, whose mother was from Tulchin in Podolia gubernia, referred to his maternal great-aunt as "Mima Sura". (As far as I know, his aunts were referred to with the English "Aunt" - not sure why, but I'd guess it was that they were likely more Americanized than his great-aunt, since they'd come to the US as children.) My maternal grandmother's family was from Minkovitz, also in Podolia about 80 miles to the west of Tulchin, and yet either she, or her mother, referred to her great-aunts as "Tante Masha" and "Tante Rose." 

Adam Turner

--
ZOLOTOROV (Chernigov, Ukraine; Kiev, Ukraine);
SLOTOROFF (Kiev, Ukraine)
CHARKOVSKY or SHARKOVSKY(Ukraine);
LEVINE (Ukraine and Minsk, Belarus);
GLUSKIN (Ukraine)
LIMON (Berestechko, Volynia, Ukraine)
TESLER (Horochiv, Volynia, Ukraine)
ZYRO (Zabolativ, Ukraine) 
TAU (Zalolativ, Ukraine)
PISTERMAN (Ukraine)
ROTH / ROT (Ataki, Bessarabia, Moldova)
BLAUSTEIN (Chernigov, Ukraine or Minsk, Belarus)


Henry Carrey Boston,MA . Carey/Kirzhner/Berestyaner , Belous , Isenberg - Lutsk ; Postolov/Herman/Kolovsky-Zhitomir
 

Mume is the Yiddish word for Aunt . in "standard"  Yiddish and in Northeastern dialect ( Baltic States, Belarussia,parts of Northern Poland ) . A person speaking this dialect is called a Litvak . In Southeastern Yiddish ( Ukraine , southeastern Poland etc. ) and in Central Yiddish ( most of  Poland, Galicia and other areas nearby ) the " U" becomes " ee" in most words . Thus , "mume" is pronounced "MEE-meh" .  My grandmother from Lutsk was called " Di shvartse mime" because of her dark complexion and very curly black hair . My aunt cousins  look very Middle Eastern.

In my Yiddish dictionary, "mume/mime" can also mean a madame of a brothel ! Also, it was sometimes used when calling out for a woman you didn't know as in "Oh, miss , lady ". An aunt by marriage is a  " kalte mume " (cold aunt ) and a great-aunt is an " elter-mume" .  

On the other hand , all my aunts but one on my mother's side from Zhitomir are called "tante" : TAN-te Feyge , Tante Leye etc.
Just like the respondent below , my mother's more Americanized aunt preferred " Auntie Annie " . The dictionary says it is a "daytchmerism" or a Germanic addition popular at the end of the 19th century  when Germany was considered the most enlightened of nations . Modern German words were used almost in the way English speakers throw in French words sometimes to sound more sophisticated. I don't know if " tante" fits this pattern or if it was an older usage . 

If Mendele Yiddish blog still existed , we could ask for more details about where and why "tante" was used and when "mume" was used . Also, were all aunts referred to as "mume/tante" whether or not they were great-aunts or not ? 

By the way , "feter" was used in the same way for "uncle" as in " Der Feter Elye" . When you are speaking about someone i Yiddish rather than English  , you use the definite article " di bobe Mindl" , der zeyde Shloyme " but in adressing someone , the article is omitted . So, my aunt was Tante Feyge when we were speaking English , but if you sing Yiddish songs or read Yiddish books you will see the definite article used ( as well as possessive pronouns ) when speaking about someone. 

"Frume/Frime" ( FREE-meh) is indeed a common name and it literally means ''devout" . However , "Frume-Sore "  Tevye's grandmother was not necessarily pious . In this case, it is just a name . Probably, if they wanted distinguish between different "Sore's " in a village , they would refer to an especially pious woman as "Sore/Sure/Surke , di frume " or  if she were sanctimonious " Sore, di frum-AH- keh" !  



--
Henry H. Carrey


Deanna Levinsky
 

My tante Belkey was Russian as was the rest of the family. Tante was my Mom’s aunt and my great aunt. My Mom, born here in 1908 also used meema and mumma to describe her other aunts. Fuhta was an uncle. 
Confusing but they were all well loved
Deanna Mandel Levinsky 
Long Island New York 
--
Deanna Mandel Levinsky

--
Deanna M. Levinsky, Long Island, NY


carolyn_swadron@...
 

It means "aunt"; my parents called their parents' sisters "meemeh".

Carolyn Swadron


Henry Carrey Boston,MA . Carey/Kirzhner/Berestyaner , Belous , Isenberg - Lutsk ; Postolov/Herman/Kolovsky-Zhitomir
 

Good points . That may be why my grandmother was called " di shvartse mime " rather than "Mime Hinde" . It may have been a generic way for people to refer to her in Trochenbrod or Lutsk whether or not she was actually their aunt.  Perhaps , she was one of the few Middle Eastern looking Jews in the town . According to the dictionary mume could sometimes be a way to refer to a woman , maybe respectfully in the way that in Chinese  people use the word Uncle as a term of respect for older males. On other hand , it could be just a descriptive term used with the family . 

Could the expression they used be " Di mime un der Feter " . It would be instructive to learn whether that was a sign of affection or respect or something else . I have not been able to find another meaning for the words . In my family , when words were used liked that it referred to the oldest members of the family - patriarch and matriarch and everyone in the family knew who "di mime un di feter" referred to rather than "Mime Feyge un Feter Elye " . Is that possible in your case?  
--
Henry H. Carrey


Henry Carrey Boston,MA . Carey/Kirzhner/Berestyaner , Belous , Isenberg - Lutsk ; Postolov/Herman/Kolovsky-Zhitomir
 

My guess is that great-aunts would be called Mime/Tante within the family  depending on who you heard it from , even though the actual term is elder-mime , maybe just used in terms of genealogy . For example , my mother's aunts were always Tante and I referred to them as such . I never occurred to me to call them anything else . I guess you would have to ask a person who grew up in a totally Yiddish speaking household whether they ever made a distinction between aunts and great aunts . Although "onkle" is an acceptable yiddish word for uncle . I have rarely come across it . only feter. 
--
Henry H. Carrey


ginapat7@...
 

My Bessarabian  (Orgiev, Kishinev) Grandmother referred to an aunt who helped raise her after her mother died as the Meemah.
I always thought it referred to a treasured aunt.
I've asked Yiddish speakers before but none knew this word. So happy to hear that what I always knew has been validated.
Georgina Friedberg Glazer


Henry Carrey Boston,MA . Carey/Kirzhner/Berestyaner , Belous , Isenberg - Lutsk ; Postolov/Herman/Kolovsky-Zhitomir
 

Ellen,
Good news! I just looked up Mime and Feter in Michael Wex's book "Just say ,Nu" Yiddish for every occasion . He is a Yiddish scholar and comedian as well as someone who comes from a very frum Yiddish speaking family in Toronto . 

On page 26 , he confirms that Feter and Mime can be used as terms of respect  for an older person , like Uncle in Chinese. 
You can say " Excuse me , uncle " ( Zayt moykhl, feter")  or " Thank you,  auntie " ( a dank aykh , mime ")   to an older stranger .  

Henekh Hersh 
--
Henry H. Carrey


Molly Staub
 

From my years of studying Yidddish, I believe it means Aunt Fryma from the father; in other words, from the father's side. 

We called my great-aunt Mima Yenta.

Happy hunting, Molly Staub


Sherri Bobish
 


My father-in-law called his much older first cousin "Tante Manya" out of respect for their age difference.

That confused me when I first began putting together the family tree!

Sherri Bobish


shirley@...
 

My Belarus [Minsk] side used Tante and my Ukrainian [Galician] side used Mima.  In each case the aunt was older than the speaker, and the title was respectful.  These are regionalisms used by native Yiddish speakers.  Both are correct.
Shirley Ginzburg


Ralph Baer
 

It isn't really relevant to the topic, but like most threads, it has drifted somewhat. I was born in the late 1940's. My parents and grandparents were born in Germany. I used "Aunt" for my aunts and "Tante for my great-aunts. When I tried calling my mother's sister "Tante", it angered her. :-). As for Uncle vs. Onkel, the words sound similar enough that as a young child, I couldn't differentiate. I called my grandparents Oma and Opa followed by a nickname. I referred to my mother's mother as "Oma Honey" because Hanni, a diminutive for Johanna, sounded very much like Honey to me. I also supposedly used Oma for my only great-grandmother who was still living when I was born.
--
Ralph N. Baer        RalphNBaer@...       Washington, DC


LarryBassist@...
 

A humorous anecdote:
My family said if we had an "Aunta Tanta" then we must have also had an "Uncle Tunkle". (phonetic spellings).
Larry Bassist