[Mendele] Mendele Vol. 22.001

Victor Bers victor.bers at yale.edu
Fri May 25 14:53:07 EDT 2012

Mendele Vol. 22.001

1) "poyer" (Jules Levin)

2) Yiddish for "know it all" (Barbara Krasner)

3) rebbe (Norbert Hirschhorn)

4) gimze (Yankl Falk)

5) Vestiges of progressive voicing assimilation in NEY (Joshua Lebenswerd)

6) "ruf mikh nar un gib mir lekakh" (Ruth Murphy)

7) Yiddish Spell Check (Refoyl Finkel)

8) "Vi shver s'iz tsu gleybn" (Rukhl Schaechter)

9) "Tsistsilist" (Veronica Belling)


Subject: etymology of "poyer"

Date: April 27

What is the etymology of "poyer" for "peasant"?

Seems more Slavic than either Germanic or Hebrew.

Jules Levin


Date: April 26

Subject: Yiddish for "know it all"

I am writing a novel that takes place in a shtetl on the road between
Warsaw and

Bialystok in 1919. I'm looking for the Yiddish equivalent of "pompous ass"
or "know-it-all."

Any suggestions?

Barbara Krasner


Date: May 24

Subject: rebbe

Yiddish dictionary on line, citing YIVO standards, spells the Hasidic rabbi
as "rebe," http://www.yiddishdictionaryonline.com/ while Wikipedia uses
"rebbe." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebbe_%28disambiguation%29

Please, which is correct? A non-Jewish friend of mine read "rebe" as "reeb"


Norbert Hirschhorn


Date: April 24

Subject: gimze

Earlier today, Gloria Berkenstat Freund posted a question to the Mendele
Personals list, but the answer is of general linguistic interest.  Gloria

I am translating an article from the Kurow Yizkor Book. There is a
reference to "leder gimzes." The phrase appears in a paragraph about a
"Polish shoemaker who agreed to hide Jews in exchange for 10 "leder
gimzes." Does anyone know what a leather "gimze" is?

In "Jews and Shoes" (Oxford, UK: Berg, 2008), Edna Nahshon defines "gimze"
as "thin and supple goat hide... Gimze, which was very pliable and
expensive, came in brown and black." [95]  For European shoemakers, gimze
was "[t]he most expensive leather for uppers." [97]

I found another clue in the soc.genealogy.jewish archives (14 Nov 2011):

"Gimze" is a regional Yiddish variant for the German gemze but is not
standard Yiddish.

And Gemze?  It's the German name for the wild European antelope better
known to us by its French name (chamois).  But so far as I know, not
related to Gomez (gam zu l'tovah).

Yankl Falk


Date: May 25

Subject: Vestiges of progressive voicing assimilation in NEY

EY famously employs the "Slavic" habit of regressive voicing assimilation
in obstruent clusters.NEY is described as having an even more pervasive
application than other EY dialects, namely assimilation also applies across
word boundaries: "host genug" "hozd genug" etc.Interestingly, the word
/nito/ "absent," a contraction of /nit do/ "not here," seems to demonstrate
progressive, rather than regressive, assimilation. /nit/ is also a NEY
lexical item, cf. nish (mostly non-NEY).

Maybe there are more examples, but this is likely a vestige of a time when
yiddish employed a different phonology.

This should be looked into.

Josh Lebenswerd


Date: May 15

Subject: "ruf mikh nar un gib mir lekakh"

Tayere leyeners,

I was wonder if anyone recognizes the expression "ruf mikh nar un gib mir
lekakh" as a song, probably from right around the turn of the century? Do
you know which one? I looked on the internet but didn't find anything. The
line is from the play "Mirele Efros," written about 1898. Here is the text
it appears in:

Hannah Devoire: Afilu in der linker peyah ligt es mir nisht. Vi zogt men:
ruf mikh nar un gib mirlekakh. . . Ikh vil zen beser di kallah-matones. Ir
hot tzugezogt dimentene oyeringlekh, mit a brosh, mit a bronzshelet, nomikh
akorsht zen. . . ir meynt nisht, az ir vet opkumen mit shieh-pieh.

I'd appreciate any suggestions! Also, I've seen various translations for
"lekakh" (cinnamon cake, honey cake). Any thoughts on this word?

A sheynem dank,

Rus (Ruth Murphy)


Date: May 24

Subject: Yiddish Spell Check

A more feature-filled spell checker I have built is at


Refoyl Finkel


Date: April 29

 Subject: "Vi shver s'iz tsu gleybn"

Date: April 22

The poem George Sacks is looking for is a Holocaust song called "S'vet Zikh
fun Tsvaygl Tseblien a Boym." Lyrics: Sh. Katczerginski. Music: A.

The words and transliteration appear in Gottlieb and Mlotek's *25 Ghetto


Rukhl Schaechter


Date: May 23

Subject: "Tsistsilist"

Hi there,

In a Yiddish book I am translating, "Mayn Lite" by Solomon Buirski,
published in 1976 in South Africa, but referring to the years 1902-1911 in
Lithuania, they use the word (noun) "Tsistsilist" for somebody who has
become a free thinker or apikoros. On a google search the word "Tsitsilist"
appeared in the online English translation of the Yizkor Bukh for Nowy
Sancz on the Jewishgen.

What would b a good English equivalent for "Tsitsilist" and what is the
derivation of the word? I know what immediately comes to mind is the
German/Yiddish word for a woman's breast. However, a friend of mine
wondered if there could be any connection with the word "zeteticist,"
meaning a skeptic, which entered the English and other European languages
from the Greek?

Veronica Belling


End of Mendele Vol. 22.001

Please do not use the "reply" key when writing to Mendele. Instead,
direct your mail as follows:

Material for postings to Mendele Yiddish literature and language, i.e.
inquiries and comments of a non-commercial or publicity nature:

mendele at mailman.yale.edu

IMPORTANT: Please include your full name as you would like it to
appear in your posting. No posting will appear without its author's
name. Submissions to regular Mendele should not include personal email
addresses in the body of the message, as responses will be posted for
all to read. Please send postings always in plain text (no  HTML or
the like).

Material for Mendele Personal Notices & Announcements, i.e.
announcements of events, commercial publications, etc., always in
plain text (no HTML or the like) to:

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

In order to spare the shamosim time and effort, we request that
contributors adhere, when applicable, as closely as possible to
standard English punctuation, grammar, etc. and to the YIVO rules of
transliteration into Latin letters, which are explained in summary
form at


<http://www.yivoinstitute.org/about/index.php?tid=57&aid=275> .

All other messages should be sent to the shamosim at this address:

mendele at mailman.yale.edu

Mendele on the web: http://mendele.commons.yale.edu/


More information about the Mendele mailing list