[Mendele] Mendele Volume 18 number 4

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Fri Jul 4 10:24:26 EDT 2008

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 18.004
July 3, 2008

1) etymology of nebekh (Felicitas Payk)
2) kest (Hugh Denman)
3) song lyrics (Leybl Botwinik)
4) Buzi and sof-oyses (Goldie Sigal)
5) sof-oyses (Joel Maxman)
6) scholtechteah? (Joseph Ramek)
7) query about film about Jewish life in Lemberg (Judy Wolfthal)
8) tatele (Rubin Feldstein)
9) copyrights to "Yidishe kultur" (Rosemary Horowitz)
10) tshudak (Deborah Hoffman)

Date:  July 2, 2008
Subject: etymology of nebekh

This question is probably quite simple to answer, but as I have no Harkavy
or Weinreich available, I can't answer it myself: What is the etymology of
nebekh, which is also used in German as nebbich?

Thanks in advance,
Felicitas Payk

Date: June 28, 2008
Subject: kest

Eager to experience the thrills of the new all-singing, all-dancing Mendele
Mark 2, I hasten to find a pretext: there has recently been some
speculation not only as to the correct designation of this well- known
custom in traditional Ashkenazic life, but also as to the etymology of the
term itself. In 18.003:8 fraynd Garfinkel writes that, if the word is
Hebrew, she doesn't know the spelling. Actually, we need not look so far.
The origin is clearly to be sought in the Germanic component. In NHG we
still encounter the somewhat antiquated expression 'jemanden in Kost
nehmen' in the sense of being responsible for someone's board. Perish the
thought, of course, that the term should derive from NHG! If we consider
MHG for a moment, we quickly come across 'kestigen' [modern 'bekoestigen']
with the meaning 'to feed'. The problem is essentially that of providing an
explanation for the vowel. That any substantival form of this MHG etymon
should ever have had an umlauted plural which could have resulted in 'e' by
a process of derounding seems highly unlikely. More probable therefore is
some deverbal derivative in which an "entrundet" Umlaut resulted in "e."
But whatever the precise mechanics, the Germanic origin is clear. Where the
Germanic form came from is another story.

Hugh Denman

Date: June 19, 2008
Subject: song lyrics

Di noentste zakh vos klingt enlekh tsu Avraham Yehoshua Kahanas lid iz,
meyn ikh: - "Zingt zhe ale yidelekh."

Punkt vi in zayn lid, zingt men yede shure 2 mol. (Se intersirt mikh, agev,
tsu hern dos lid - loyt zayn nign).

Mir zingen dos lid zeyer oft, un bay yeder gelegnheyt (ikh hob, lemoshl,
shvues tsugast in Ottawa dos gezungen in mayn bruders shil "Machzikei
Hadas").  Un khotsh fun tsayt tsu tsayt zogn mir mentshn az der nign/di
muzik iz zey bakant, hob ikh es zeltn gehert.

Fun destvegn:
1) es iz do a Tel-aviver muzikerin fun vilne vos hot mit a sakh yorn tsurik
aroysgegebn a kaset-tashme mit a lider bukh fun lider vos zi hot zikh
dermont fun ir yugnt in vilne. Dort vert gegebn dos lid. 2) A fraynt vos iz
dort baygeven hot mir mit a por vokhn tsurik dertseylt az er iz geven in
yerushalayim oyf a khazonim-kontsert lekoved 60 yor medines-yisroyl, un
dort hot a khor dos lid gezungen.

Ot hot ir di verter vos mir kenen:

Zingt zhe ale yidelekh
(-transliteration by LB,
YIVO transcription)
(Words and lyrics - unknown
The song was sung in Vilna in the 1930's)

Oyf di hoykhe berg,
Karmel, Har-Hazeysim,
Shpatsirn kinder kleyne
Yisroyl am-kedeyshim.
Zingt zhe ale yidelekh,
Dem nign, dem nayem,
Lernt zikh di lidelekh
Fun yerushalayim.
Dray mol a yor veln mir
oyle-regl zayn.
Nesokhim veln mir gisn
Fun dem bestn vayn.
Refrain: Zingt zhe ale yidelekh, ...
Demolt vet got zogn:
"Azoy iz mir gefeln.
Dem Beys-Hamikdesh zolt ir boyen
Dem Mizbeyekh zolt ir shteln."
Refrain: Zingt zhe ale yidelekh, ...

Leybl Botwinik

Date: June 22, 2008
Subject:  Buzi and sof-oyses

I believe there has been some discussion lately about the origin of the
name Buzi and a query about the lack of a final letter in Soviet
orthography. (Sorry, my relevant email has been erased, and I am relying on
a possibly faulty memory)

When googling "BUZI BIBLE," I found many leads essentially saying the same
thing.  The name, Buzi, appears in Ezekiel 1:3 with the usual English
translation:  "The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest,
the son of Buzi ..."   Another source mentions that it became a relatively
common name in the Jewish past, sometimes appearing as a feminine one.

With regard to the lack of a final letter:  This was part of the Soviet
policy followed in the printing of Yiddish books.  This practice is
summarized in my Introduction, A Garment Worker's Legacy: the Joe Fishstein
Collection of Yiddish Poetry (Montreal: McGill University Libraries, 1998),
p. xxi.  It can also be seen in the web site by the same name.
[http://digital.library.mcgill.ca/fishstein]  (Press "Catalogue," then
"Introduction," then "Soviet Orthography"):

"Shortly after the revolution in the former Soviet Union, publications in
the Hebrew language were banned, as Hebrew was identified with religion,
Zionism, and 'bourgeois exploitation.'  An official Yiddish Soviet
orthography was adopted, in which all Yiddish words were to be spelled
phonetically, obscuring their Hebrew derivation.  Certain Hebrew letters,
like hes and sof, were eliminated, and often special forms for some final
consonants were abandoned, in so-called conformity with the linguistic
practice of other languages.  Since the arrival of glasnost, standard
Yiddish is being reintroduced into new Russian imprints by the addition of
the phonetic spelling after Hebraisms."(This process is probably now being
done electronically.)

Goldie Sigal

Date: June 23, 2008
Subject: sof-oyses

The Soviets tried to eliminate the Hebrew connection in Yiddish by changing
loshn-koydesh words to phonetic spelling.  According to this Wikipedia
entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_orthography the elimination of
sof-oysyes was a follow-up part of the same set of "reforms":

"The first action formally undertaken by a government was in the Soviet
Union in 1920, with the abolition of the separate etymological orthography
for words of Semitic origin. This was extended twelve years later with the
elimination of the five separate final-form consonants (as indicated in the
table below) which were, however, widely reintroduced in 1961. The changes
are both illustrated in the way the name of the author Sholem Aleichem is

Joel Maxman

Date: June 20, 2008
Subject: scholtechteah?

I can't find the word "scholtechteah" in Weinreich or Harkavy. It must be
that I am spelling the word incorrectly.  I would appreciate the correct
spelling.  According to the second law of thermodynamics everything becomes
a scholtechteah eventually.

Thank you.
Joseph Ramek

Date: June 21, 2008
Subject: query about film about Jewish life in Lemberg

Some months ago there was a posting in Mendele that mentioned a film about
Jewish life in Lemberg between the wars.  When I posted a query asking for
more information, there was no reply.  Any ideas?

Judy Wolfthal

Date:  June 18, 2008
Subject: tatele

When I was very young, my mother used the affectionate diminutive "tatele"
as a substitute for my name. I've found others who also remember this and
are also puzzled. The word means little father. Why would a parent call her
child that? There must be a reason.

Rubin Feldstein

Date:  June 30, 2008
Subject: copyrights to "Yidishe kultur"

I am interested in reprinting Berl Mark's article on yizker books that was
included in the 1964 issue of the journal "Yidishe kultur." Does anyone
know who owns the copyrights to the journal?

Thanks for your help.

Rosemary Horowitz

Date:  June 18, 2008
Subject: tshudak

I must have missed the original query, but yes tshudak (accent on the last
syllable) is a Russian word for an eccentric person. I don't know whether
it appears in other Slavic languages as well. Coincidentally(?), the word
tshudo means miracle.

Deborah Hoffman

End of Mendele Vol. 18.004

Please do not use the "reply" key when writing to Mendele. Instead, choose
one of these, as appropriate:

   Material for postings to Mendele Yiddish literature and language:

      mendele at mailman.yale.edu

   Material for Mendele Personal Notices & Announcements:

victor.bers at yale.edu (in the subject line write Mendele Personal)

   Other messages to the shamosim: mendele at mailman.yale.edu

Mendele on the web: http://shakti.trincoll.edu/~mendele/index.htm

More information about the Mendele mailing list