[Mendele] Mendele: Yiddish literature and language Vol. 21.008

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Sun Nov 27 14:59:20 EST 2011

Mendele: Yiddish literature and language

Contents of Vol. 21.008
November 24, 2011

1) kheshvn vs. kheshbn (Alan Shuchat)
2) "Tsugeklept" (Ann Rabinowitz)
3) Translation of "Mirele Efros" (Barnett Zumoff)
4) Translation of "Mirele Efros" (Beth Kaplan)
5) Translation of "Mirele Efros" (Ruth Murphy)
6) Map for the different sandhi types: f [is/uz] benkl (Joshua Lebenswerd)
7) shtetl nicknames (Martin Jacobs)
8) spodik (Rose Jimenez)
9) Source for a certain Yismechu? (Jeff Warschauer)

Subject: kheshvn vs. kheshbn
Date: November 23

Is there a regional form of Yiddish where a settling of accounts is 
pronounced kheshvn instead of kheshbn? My mother says kheshvn, and I 
wonder if she's just remembering incorrectly or if in fact that's how it 
was said in southern Ukraine (Mogilev-Podolskiy) or Bessarabia (Soroki), 
where she came from as a child.

Alan Shuchat

Date: "Tsugeklept"
Subject: November 21

The "Tsugeklept" song recording which I posted about previously has been 
put on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Df_7nkzrMGoY.

Please let me know if anyone can translate the song into English.

Ann Rabinowitz

Date: November 2
Subject: translation of "Mirele Efros"

In answer to Max Shulman's inquiry, I don't know of a complete translation 
of Mirele Efros, but I translated one crucial chapter of the play (part of 
Act III)  as part of my translation of Goldsmith's Yiddish Literature in 
America, 1870-2000, published by Ktav Publishing House, 2009 (pp 34-43).

Barnett Zumoff

Date: November 3
Subject: translation of "Mirele Efros"

Dear Max Shulman:

Strangely, as you point out, Jacob Gordin's most performed play does not 
have a published English translation. For my book, "Finding the Jewish 
Shakespeare: the life and legacy of Jacob Gordin," published in 2007, I 
got in touch with a New York playwright called Nathan Gross, who wrote a 
musical adaptation of the play called "Pearls." In order to write his 
adaptation, he did a rough translation of the original play, which he gave 
to me. I could send you a copy, if you wish.

Many theatres that have performed the play, including the Folksbiene 
perhaps fifteen years ago, had simultaneous translation available, so some 
form of a translation must exist, you could contact them to ask. And a 
Yiddishist in Texas, Ruth Murphy, has recently embarked on an independent 

Incidentally, my book, which contains many pages about my 
great-grandfather's most popular play, is appearing in a paperback edition 
next year, in the spring of 2012.

Yours sincerely,
Beth Kaplan

Date: translation of "Mirele Efros"
Subject: November 3

Dear Max Shulman and list,

I am working on a translation of "Mirele Efros." Although I just started 
on it and it is a very slow process, I would be thrilled to speak with 
anyone who loves this play as much as I do. My email is 
murphy.ruth at rocketmail.com. I will help however I can.
As far as I know, the only translation is an unofficial one done years ago 
that YIVO might have. It's very odd to me that this play has never been 
translated, as it was so very,very popular and such a great story. I 
haven't translated enough to say with certainty, but I think that the 
movie with Berta Gersten stays somewhat close to the story plot. It leaves 
out a lot of great lines, I know that much.

Zayt gezint un freylekh

Ruth Murphy

Date: November 13
Subject: Map for the different sandhi types: f [is/uz] benkl

I'm a student at the linguistic facility at Stockholm University, Sweden.I 
am currently writing my thesis on regional Yiddish influence on Modern 
Hebrew phonology.
I will look at several phonological features in Modern Hebrew and compare 
them to where they occur in regional dialects, with the help of the LCAAJ 

I miss a piece of the puzzle:

The application of OVA ["regressive" obstruent voicing assimilation] in 
Yiddish differ from dialect to dialect.

All eastern Yiddish dialects apply it within a morpheme (including also 
root + inflection)/xeshbm / /xezhbm/

Central Yiddish is described as having final devoicing.
OVA doesn't apply across word boundaries. (German sandhi type)/fus-benkl/ 
therefore remains /fusbenkl/

Northeastern Yiddish lacks final devoicing and is known for applying OVA 
across word boundaries. (eastern Slavic sandhi type)/fus-be(j)nkl/ 

Southeastern Yiddish also generally lacks final devoicing and yet doesn't 
OVA apply./tog-student/ therefore remains /tog-student/while in NEY it 
becomes /tok-student/

This is a well know phenomenon, described in LCAAJ VOL 1 page 38, as well 
as Neil Jacobs (Yiddish: a linguistic introduction 2005: 129-130, etc.), 
yet no map for the phenomenon is present, and almost no references.

I've seen a very small, and for my study, irrelevant map in Herzog (The 
Yiddish language in northern Poland 1965: 222)

Does anyone know where to find more information about this?
1. Are there any relevant maps?
2. How big is the NEY sandhi area? All of NEY or just regions?
3. What is the situation for SEY?

I would be very thankful for any input and help.

Joshua Lebenswerd

Date: November 7
Subject: shtetl nicknames

In the town of Janow (aka Ivanova), now in Belarus, formerly in Poland, 
people were not known by their surnames but by nicknames. The meanings of 
some of these names are clear (kashtanes, bulanes, yid), but others I 
cannot find. Does anyone know their meaning?
Ven emetser a fremder fun an anderer shtot flegt kumen tsu undz in shtetl 
un fregn af a familie nomen, flegt men im onkukn: vos familie ver 
familie?! di mentshn flegt men rufn loyt zeyere tsunemen: di kashtanes, di 
bulanes, di yezlakh, di meytshes, di zhulikes, der yid, di ribtses, di 
tsigelns, un andere.

I would like to know: "yezlakh," "meytshes," "zhulikes, "ribtses, 
"tsigelns." Many thanks in advance.

Martin Jacobs

Date: November 2
Subject: spodik

It is interesting to note that in some literature, the phrase "drey mir 
nit kayn hitl" is used instead of the "drey mir nit keyn spodik."

Rose Jimenez

Date: November 11
Subject: Source for a certain Yismechu?

There is a certain tune which is very popular in the klezmer scene, which 
was recorded by Belf's Romanian Orchestra under the title "Skvirskaya." It 
was also recorded by Dave Tarras, and others, as I remember. It would 
appear to be a Hasidic nign.

There is also a song ("Shpil zhe mir a lidele in yidish") from the former 
Soviet Union, which is very similar.

What's intriguing to me is that the klezmer version was also recorded  by 
Leon Schwartz A"H. He called the tune "Yismechu," and it certainly does 
sound like a melody that could be used for that text (it's a beautiful, 
classic freygish tune, for one thing!).

But I've never found a recorded or printed source for this melody with the 
Yism'chu text, and I'd like to see how the setting works.

Here's the melody. It starts the same as the Earl Berris setting found in 
the new Zamru Lo, but then veers off in a different direction.

Connected notes are 16ths. Separated notes are 8ths:

d-eb-d-eb  f#-g-f#-eb  f# d d d

f#-g-f#-g  a-Bb-a-g  a f# f# f#

d-f#-a-c  Bb-a-g-f#  g-f#-Eb-d  c (ends with quarter note)

Bnat-c-d-Eb  f#-g-f#-Eb  d (ends with quarter note)

Have you heard Yisemechu sung to this melody? Any help would be
greatly appreciated!

A dank in faroys, un gut Shabbes/Shabbat Shalom!

Jeff Warschauer
of Mendele Vol. 21.008
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