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The Schmooze

Quiz: Do You Really Know Yiddish Slang?

Unless you’re living under a rock that is somehow impervious to think pieces, you know that we are now living in the “Golden Age of Television”. If you watched the Tony awards Sunday night you heard one winner’s victorious announcement that this is a “Golden Age of American playwrighting”. And if you have been to the New York City cafe that sells only raw cookie dough, you might argue that we are living in a Golden Age, no qualifiers.

But did you know that we are living during a Yiddish revival?

In the early 1930s, planet earth was home to 11 million Yiddish speakers. Now experts think around one million people speak Yiddish worldwide.

But a growing interest among young Jews in speaking Yiddish is leading them to Yiddish language classes on college campuses and unique immersion programs like Yiddish Farm.

Apparently hoping to take advantage of people’s curiosity with the 1000-year old language of Ashkenazi Jewry, has come up with a Yiddish quiz. Too bad they didn’t consult someone who actually knows Yiddish. The words and phrases are kitschy examples of what’s known as Yinglish (also referred to colloquially as Hebronics) and bears little resemblance to the language spoken by Tevye and his daughters or by Hasidim today in Williamsburgh.

Take a look, if only for a laugh. But if you ace it, don’t go bragging to your friends that you’re a Yiddish speaker.

Jenny Singer is a writer for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny.


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