Archive for the ‘Yiddish’ Category

bibulous (paper towels and sots)

June 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit for the 1st of June (ushering in the summer months — and Pride Month, for which even the rabbits go gay: 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈)

Today’s amuse-gueule for the month is a Zippy strip (which has been hanging around on my desktop since it appeared in 10/14/19) in which the notoriously onomastomanic Zippy savors the word bibulous for the delights of its meaning a well as its pronunciation:

From NOAD: adj, bibulousformal excessively fond of drinking alcohol. ORIGIN late 17th century (in the sense ‘absorbent’): from Latin bibulus ‘freely or readily drinking’ (from bibere ‘to drink’) + –ous.

So we’ve got a specialization of drinking up to drinking alcohol; plus a metaphorical view of drinking up to refer to absorbency (paper towels drink up spills) — but the (older) ‘absorbent’ sense of bibulous is now obsolete. Never mind: Zippy loves it.

Oh yes, also from NOAD (with Zippy, but not with Griffy’s further specialization in the strip, which is not in anybody’s dictionary):

adj. verklempt: North American informal [AZ: in Yinglish] overcome with emotion: I found myself getting a little verklempt just thinking about it | he was standing at the top of the steps looking verklempt.

You can certainly be verklempt over the meanings of words, but it doesn’t follow that verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, means ‘overcome with emotion about the meanings of words’; verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, is (off the shelf) neutral, unspecified, uncommitted as to the cause of this extreme emotion, which could be any of an endless number of things. Once off the shelf, you can do all sorts of things with it.

Don’t ask! 2

May 25, 2023

A Peanuts strip, featuring Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty:

(#1) But wait! Patty’s Don’t ask! is not a request for Charlie not to ask about her feelings (which would directly contradict her requesting Charlie to ask about her feelings); instead, it’s an exclamation (in Yiddish English) conveying Patty’s dismay at feeling really crappy

We have been through this use of Don’t ask! previously on this blog, in the aptly named posting of 1/31/21, “Don’t ask!”:


Follow-up: a regular genius

February 21, 2022

It starts with my 2/19/22 posting “A regular genius”, on quintessential regular (NOAD example: this place is a regular fisherman’s paradise), vs. run-of-the-mill regular (NOAD example: it’s richer than regular pasta).

Which elicited this Facebook comment from Joel Levin:

I get a sarcastic note from he’s a regular genius, in that one might so describe a person who had done something particularly doltish. I thought I might see a mention of that sense in the column.

And then AZ > JL:

In some contexts I get that note too, but I think that’s just an example of the generalization that any compliment can be used sarcastically, not a fact specifically about regular.

And then a comment from Ben Yagoda, making the Jewish connection: it’s probably relevant that JL’s Jewish and I’m, so to speak, Jewish-adjacent; we’re more inclined than a random person to detect a sarcastic or ironic tone in he’s a regular genius. The tone is available for anyone to pick up, but some of us are predisposed to detect it (and to convey it in our own speech).


Nobody expects the Yinglish interjection

September 29, 2021

An e-mail exchange on 9/28 between Richard Vytniorgu and me, thinking out loud together on various topics, including the prejudice within the LGBT community against  the twinkish, the sexually receptive, the submissive, and the effeminate amongst us queers — all, apparently, on the grounds that such men are wanting in conventional masculinity and so are defective even as queers; they’re just too gay-acting, in the view of some of our number. Richard is an effeminate submissive sexually receptive twink, so he’s got a huge emotional investment in the matter; I am merely a bottom by preference, but I’ve been becoming increasingly militant and outspoken in this arena, moving towards the view that Richard and his kind should be seen as central to the larger community, not as peripheral misfits.

But that’s not what I’m after in *this* posting. Instead, it’s what happened in this exchange between us:

RV: I feel for Tannor [Reed] as I do for all twinks in the [gay porn] industry. Gays can be so hypocritical sometimes: they love to watch us, but will publicly punish or shame us when it suits them. You may have heard of [twink X; his story isn’t the point here, just his being treated with contempt]

AZ: Oi.

RV: What does this mean?

Here’s where I need to remind you that Richard is British and I am American.


Don’t ask!

January 31, 2021

Today’s morning name, but it comes with crucial context. The Don’t ask! in question is not the neutral use of the negative imperative, advising the addressee not to ask someone about something (Don’t ask them about the ducks in the kitchen; that just makes them crazy), but instead is a formula of Yiddish-influenced English, normally used only by (American) Jews (or gentiles culturally close to this community), when someone has in fact just asked about the matter in question (the tsuris tsores ‘troubles’); the speaker doesn’t go on to avoid this sensitive matter, but instead embraces it, launching into kvetching ‘complaining’ about it.

The formula Don’t ask!  then serves as an announcement — a kind of alarm bell, if you will — that the speaker is about to go off on a (perhaps extended) kvetch.


Smearing and taunting

June 17, 2020

(Adapted and expanded from a Facebook comment of mine a while back. Some coarse sexual language, notably from American newsmakers, but also enough about sexual bodies and mansex from me to make the posting dubious for kids and the sexually modest.)

Every so often, MSNBC commentator Ali Velshi tartly notes — alluding to the Imperator Grabpussy’s smears of President Barack Obama as a Muslim born in Kenya — that he is a Muslim who was born in Kenya (though he grew up in Canada).

There’s a linguistic point here, having to do with relevance and implicature. Why does Velshi say this? Yes, it’s true, but then “The freezing point of water is 32F” is true, but if Velshi had said that it would have been bizarre, because it would have been irrelevant in the context. So Velshi’s religion and nativity are relevant in the context. Cutting through a whole lot of stuff, I would claim that Velshi is implicating something like “Being one myself, I know from Muslims born in Kenya, and I know that Barack Obama is no Muslim born in Kenya”. And THAT brings me to a piece I’ve been wrestling with some time, about Grabpussy Jr. jeering at Mitt Romney, taunting him by calling him a pussy. (I have a Velshian response of my own to that.)

Hang on; this will go in several directions.