As readers of Der Vinkl know so well, Stanley Siegelman and Joan Braman are two of the column’s most prolific contributors, but this week’s entry is different from all their previous ones; it is a joint effort. Siegelman explained why. “My usual procedure is to compose in Yiddish and then translate into English. For the present column, I went Moyshe kapoyer: I wrote it in English, and when it came to the Yiddish version, I had difficulty. “So,” Siegelman explained, “for help I turned to Dr. Joan Braman, whose translations of English masterpieces into Yiddish for Der Vinkl I have repeatedly admired. Dr. Braman gladly accepted the assignment.”
Here we have Siegelman’s English version followed by Braman’s Yiddish translation. The subject of the English and Yiddish versions is the Senate’s recent move to make English the official language of the United States.
English for U.S. Official Language
The English language unifies!
So says the U.S. Senate wise;
The solons say with single voice,
“It’s now official, that’s our choice!”
No other language fills the need,
The Senators have all agreed.
But from their edict let’s appeal.
In furtherance of common weal;
Might mameloshn play the role
If long-range unity’s the goal?
They seek a unifying spiel?
The Yiddish tongue might prove ideal;
It’s time that people realized
It’s not just for the circumcised.
Plain English speech has run its course,
It’s Yiddish to the fore perforce;
Already Yiddish words enjoy
Wide use among the hoi polloi;
Non-Jewish folk use words like “nosh”
Hoha, schlemiel, oy vey, mish mash.
Perhaps we could persuade George Bush
To give a talk in “mama lush?”
His Texan twang and accent plain
Would traction give to our campaign.
(The Yiddish movement could begin
With talks by Joseph Lieberman.)
When in the mother tongue one prates
The larynx throbs and resonates;
Felicity resides in short.
In uttering the Yiddish vort.
Once goyim realize this joy,
No other speech will they employ!
These arguments you say are weak
Oh, well. All’s (mother) tongue-in-cheek!
* * *
Yiddish Als Nationaln Shprakh
Nor English in di Fareynikte Shtatn!
Azoy bafelt der U.S. Senat
Zogn di salonen mit eyn shtim,
“S’iz undzer breyere. ‘S’iz nit keyn zind!”
Mir darfn nit kayn ander shprakh,
Di Senatorn hobn opgemakht.
Dokh lomir betrakhtn dos gezets
Vayl eynikayt iz neytik yetst,
Efsher vet “mame loshn” klekn.
“Toyves beklal” vet zayn der tsvek;
Milyonen in di shtatn lebn
Vos kayn English vort nit redn
Lernen English iz tsu shver
Ven fun der fremd me kumt aher;
Lernen Yiddish iz etvos gringer —
Makh Yiddish undzer “franca lingua”!
S’bedarft a nayem dialect,
Vos iz “politically correct.”
Yidish hot azoy fil mayles:
Shayles entfert men mit shayles;
Vi shmalts es glitsht zikh oyf der tsung,
Un oykh s’iz gut far dem gezunt.
In Yidish z’loynt zikh oft tsu krekhtsn.
S’bavegt dem haldz, makht loyz dos leykhets,
Yidish iz nutsik, balebatish,
Un, mer fun alts, s’iz demokratish.
Yidish makht keynmol nit keyn shnit
Tsvishn di vos hobn un hobn nit.
Un es kumt mer gute nayes;
Yidish vet makhn sholem-bayis.
S’vet zayn a naye melukhe a voyle
On konflikt tsvishn royte un bloye
Demokratn un Republicaner —
Nor Litvak kegn Galitsyaner!