[Mendele] Mendeke Vol. 18.012

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Sun Nov 16 18:14:11 EST 2008

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 18.012
November 16, 2008

1) asheryoytsernik (Gabriella Safran)
2) amatshiner parkhes (Kalman Weiser)

Date:  November 14, 2008
Subject:  asheryoytsernik

I have a question about translating a letter written in Paris in the 1890s
in a mix of Russian and Yiddish. S. An-sky is making fun of a young
revolutionary, a Social Democrat, that is, more of an orthodox Marxist 
the Populists/Socialist Revolutionaries who included An-sky himself. The
student asks An-sky whether he thinks Baron Rothschild would give him a
stipend (lots of Russian-Jewish students in Paris got help from him), and
An-sky switches from Russian to Yiddish to describe his own reaction:

"I said it would be wrong, because Rothschild could say that you insult 
and then ask for a handout. The asheryoytsernik said, 'but we socialists
know we are supposed to expropriate the bourgeoisie.'  Typical. Our future
Robespierres and St. Justes, while the Russian peasant is getting prepared
[for revolution], expropriate the bourgeoisie by charity. Each according 
his powers. A magnificent pictue."

Why do you think An-sky calls the student an "asheryoytsernik"? Is he just
associating him with the bathroom, excretion, etc.? Or is he suggesting
that the student is engaged in a kind of ideological formalism, 
repetition of a formula without meaning it, something like an implied
religious formalism or empty religiosity? Have you ever seen the 
before, and if so, in what context?

I'd love to hear any answers.

Gabriella Safran

Date: November 16, 2008
Subject:  amatshiner parkhes

In a review (Der pinkes, 1913) of "Noyekh prilutskis zamelbikher far
yidishn folklor, filologye un kulturgeshikhte," Ber Borokhov  assails Noah
Prylucki for failing to distinguish between what Borokhov deemed true
folklore, i.e. widespread sayings, and local, narrow, possibly even
idiosyncratic sayings associated with the geography of the 
world. He writes about Prylucki (p.347),

He presents about a thousand sayings such as "Odrzyw?l peasants
(odzshiviler poyern), Ulaszewo goats (ulashnover tsign), Ozork?w pigs
(ozyerkover khazeyrim), Izbica geese (izshbitser gendz), Ochota thieves
(okhoter ganovim), Amatshin cheapskates (amatshiner parkhes), Ostrowiec
buffoons (ostrovtser naronim), Opoczno corpses (opotshiner pgorim), Bibrka
moon (bobrker levone), Bialobrzegi fools (byalobzshiner leytsim) " and the
like. This is what you call "folklore"? Is then every saying that a Jew
uttered somewhere an element of folk creation?  Where does Prylucki have
evidence that everything he recorded here is actually a folk 
an old axiom that a Jew doesn't lack, thank goodness, pointed words. What
does a Jew say about his own agile tongue? "In ten waters you cannot wash
yourself clean of Jewish talk."

Through the magic of Wikipedia, I have managed to find the Polish name of
all but one of the communities cited above. Can anyone tell me what the
Polish version of Amatshin ("amatshiner parkhes") is? It is most likely in
the former Congress Poland (if it still exists). Also, I am less confident
about Ulaszewo=Ulashnov because of the missing "n." Any better ideas?

Kalman Weiser

End of Mendele Vol. 18.012

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