Posts Tagged: Yiddish Results 8
American Jews speak their own language. This is the thesis that Professor Sarah Bunin Benor is working under as she gathers up phrases and words for her project “Jewish English: Distinctive Lexicon.”
I spoke with Benor recently and she explained that while it is not like Yiddish or Ladino, American Jews have a specific vocabulary and unique linguistic ticks that make it distinctive. She compared it to Judeo-Greek.
In an essay in the recent issue of the World Affairs Journal, linguist and Columbia literature professor John McWhorter questions the effort to save dying languages:
What makes the potential death of a language all the more emotionally charged is the belief that if a language dies, a cultural worldview will die with it. But this idea is fragile. Certainly language is a key aspect of what distinguishes one group from another. However, a language itself does not correspond to the particulars of a culture but to a faceless process that creates new languages as the result of geographical separation.
Brazil is not only home to the Jules Rimet trophy, Copacabana beach, Carnaval and the frighteningly militarized favelas portrayed in “City of God,” it’s also the location of an old and respected Yiddish community. Now Jose de Abreu is making a Yiddish-speaking film — “Where Pigs Eat Oranges” — about Jewish immigration from Czarist Russia (Bessarabia) to Brazil, in 1904. Supported by the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), Jewish immigrants founded the first organized agricultural colony in Brazil, called Philippson Colony (in the Brazilian pampa). The film takes its name from a phrase in a JCA pamphlet encouraging immigration.
A little mameloshn came spilling out of the mouth of Rep. Anthony Weiner (aka the future Mr. Huma Abedin) during a discussion of health care reform. New York Daily News blogger Michael McAuliff reports:
“We’re not going to take hundreds of billions of dollars a year and give it to insurance companies who give us bupkis,” Weiner said, veins bulging. That prompted a gavel from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and a joking rebuke. “The gentleman will speak English,” Waxman said.
Every day Wikipedia features a short article that they think might interest their readers which, on the English site, is always an article in English. There are however 267 different languages on Wikipedia, ranked by number of articles from English (with nearly three million articles and 300 million edits) down to Toki Pona (zero articles, but 1,710 edits!). Toki Pona, by the way, is a language with only 118 words invented by by Sonja Elen Kisa in 2001 to be “a minimal language that focuses on the good things in life.”