Yinglish

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This article is about English words in Yiddish. For the opposite, see Yiddish words used by English-speaking Jews.

Yinglish words are neologisms created by speakers of Yiddish in English-speaking countries, sometimes to describe things that were uncommon in the old country. Leo Rosten's book The Joys of Yiddish[1] uses the words Yinglish and Ameridish to describe new words, or new meanings of existing Yiddish words, created by English-speaking persons with some knowledge of Yiddish. Rosten defines "Yinglish" as "Yiddish words that are used in colloquial English" (such as kibitzer)[2] and Ameridish as words coined by Jews in the United States;[3] his use, however, is sometimes inconsistent. According to his definition on page x, alrightnik is an Ameridish word; however, on page 12 it is identified as Yinglish.

The Joys of Yiddish describes the following words as Yinglish except where noted as Ameridish:

  • alrightnik, alrightnikeh, alrightnitseh – male, female, female individual who has been successful; nouveau riche[4]
  • bleib shver  – from German bleibt schwer, meaning remains difficult - unresolved problem, especially in Talmud learning
  • blintz (Yinglish because the true Yiddish is blintzeh)[5]
  • bluffer, blufferkeh – male, female person who bluffs[6]
  • boarderkeh, bordekeh – (Ameridish) female paying boarder[7]
  • boychick, boychikel, boychiklekh – young boy, kiddo, handsome[8]
  • bulbenik (Ameridish) – an actor who muffs his lines, from bilbul - mixup (alternative theory - bulba, literally potato, figuratively error)[9]
  • bummerkeh (Ameridish) – a female bum
  • cockamamy false, ersatz, crazy (of an idea), artificial, jury-rigged (prob. from Eng. "decalcomania," a "decal," a sticker, a cheap process for transferring images from paper to glass.) In the Bronx, in the first half of the 20th century, a "cockamamie" was a washable temporary "tattoo" distributed in bubblegum packets.
  • donstairsikeh, donstairsiker – female, male living downstairs
  • dresske – bargain-basement dress
  • fin – five, or five-dollar bill, shortened form of Yiddish finif (five)
  • kosher – Yinglish, not in its religious or Yiddish meanings, but only in five slang senses: authentic, trustworthy, legitimate, fair, and approved by a higher source. Its pronunciation, as "kōsher", is another distinguishing factor, as in true Yiddish it is pronounced "kūsher" or "kösher"
  • mensch – a person of uncommon maturity and decency
  • nextdoorekeh, nextdooreker – female, male living next door
  • opstairsikeh, opstairsiker (Ameridish) – female, male living upstairs
  • pisha paysha – corruption of English card game "Pitch and Patience"
  • sharopnikel (Ameridish) – a small object that causes quieting, such as a pacifier, teething ring
  • shmegegge (Ameridish) – an unadmirable or untalented person
  • shmo – shortened version of 'shmock' or 'shmearal', see 'shnuk'
  • shnuk (Ameridish) – an idiotic person
  • tararam – a big tummel
  • Tuchas – buttocks

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rosten, Leo. The Joys of Yiddish, Pocket Books/Washington Square Press, 1970 (first edition 1968). ISBN 0-671-72813-X
  2. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. ix.
  3. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. x.
  4. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 12.
  5. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 42.
  6. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 43.
  7. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 44.
  8. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 49.
  9. ^ Rosten, op. cit., p. 56.

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