Monday, November 09, 2009

American Jewish Language

A twofer for me, combining both linguistics and Jewish culture.

David Bernstein at Volokh links to a new survey of American Jewish speech and identity markers. It is hardly surprising that Yiddish is declining and Israeli Hebrew ascending, but there are oddities even in that. A small selection of Yiddish words is actually becoming more common.

I keep forgetting that most Jews I know are my own age. Most anythings that I know are my own age. My impressions of American Jewish culture is very much formed then, by Jewish Boomers from the northeast, with a secondary influence of Jews a generation older. It's good to bust out of that a bit.


Gringo said...

One Gentile's perspective: One thing that surprised me was "schmooze" being used as "to kiss up." I had never heard of that. "To kiss up" is used more among Gentiles than Jews, the paper states.

I had always used it as "to chat." But then I learned my Yiddish by associating from Jews.

(The paper used "shmooze." I am more accustomed to "schmooze," and used it that way. Google supports my POV,as there are three times as many hits for "schmooze.")

Donna B. said...

That's odd Gringo, because I've always associated "schmooze" with "kissing up". I learned my Yiddish from television. Probably not the best source.