29 February 2004 - Sunday
The Yiddish Project
I have added a new area to my sidebar: the Yiddish Word of the Week.
This idea came out of a conversation with Wheeler today, in which we decided that this feature would be a good way to reinvigorate the "Yiddish Project" we began last semester. Inasmuch as Yiddish is perhaps the most colorful language on earth, we decided to learn as many choice expressions as possible. The new feature seemed a helpful learning tool.
One source of information in particular has been very helpful:
Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yiddish. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968.
Please also see the Ariga Glossary of Yiddish Expressions provided by Michael Fein.
Archive of Entries:
paskudne ("poss-KOOD-nyeh") Filthy, unkind, disgusting, contemptible (e.g., The dining hall served a paskudne meal this evening) (29 February 2004)
Pleasure, satisfaction, bliss, joy (e.g., Ah, a good book on a rainy night is such a mechaieh!) (7 March 2004)
A crazy person (e.g., He's a complete meshugana; He's completely meshugana) (15 March 2004)
A rag, piece of junk, dishonored person, slattern, or sycophant (e.g., I wouldn't be seen wearing a shmatte like that; They treat him like a shmatte; The little shmatte stole my husband; Is there anyone he doesn't agree with, the shmatte?) (22 March 2004)
Nonsense or commotion (e.g., Why do you believe that sort of shtuss?; They made such a shtuss in the street) (28 March 2004)
An intense expression of amazement, fear, or protest -- from German, "powers" (e.g., Gevalt! I saw a ghost!; She gave out a gevalt loud enough to wake the neighbors) (5 April 2004)
Exhausted (e.g., After working all day, he's oysgematert) (11 April 2004)
L'chayim ("le-KHY-im" -- the kh being quite guttural)
To life! (used as a toast, as in "to your health") (20 April 2004)
yentz (rhymes with "rents")
To copulate; to cheat, to swindle, to defraud. Very coarse, an obscenity -- think of the English "screw" (e.g., Yentz you, and your little dog too!) (2 May 2004)
loch in kop ("LAWKH enn kawp," guttural sound for "kh")
Hole in the head; part of the larger phrase "Ich darf es vi a loch in kop," which means, "I need it like a hole in the head" (e.g., I need to hear more of Scholl's euphemisms like I need a loch in kop.) (9 May 2004)
A fumbler, a clumsy person, someone who is all thumbs (e.g., That shlemiel spilled hot coffee all over me! I was nearly scalded to death!) (16 May 2004)
Insanity, craziness, locura (e.g., No, I will not join the French Foreign Legion! That's m'shigas!) (24 May 2004)
To revel, frolic, carouse (e.g., The happy couple huliened all through the night) (31 May 2004)
A very little bit, a smidgen (e.g., Some teachers treat their students as though they had only a bissel of knowledge and intelligence to call their own) (6 June 2004)
hok a tchynik ("HAWK uh chai-NIK")
Literally translated, this means "to strike a kettle." Most commonly used to signify yammering, excessive talking, nonsense talk, etc. (e.g., Stop hokking a tchynik! I quit listening to your ignorant prattle five minutes ago!) (20 June 2004)
nudnik ("NUD-nick" — rhymes with "mud slick")
A pest, a nag, a monumental bore (e.g., He never stops talking about animal husbandry, the nudnik!) (27 June 2004)
Confused, bewildered, scatterbrained (e.g., He was so tsetummelt last night, it's a wonder he didn't forget his own name) (7 July 2004)
kvell (Ummm . . . well . . . "KVELL")
To beam with immense pride and pleasure over an accomplishment (someone else's or your own) (e.g., His parents kvelled as he climbed the platform to receive his doctorate) (11 July 2004)
A bed-wetter. A young, inexperienced person ("young squirt") (e.g., One day of kindergarten, and suddenly he thinks he knows everything, the pisher!) (26 July 2004)
I hope . . . I wish . . . If only I had . . . etc. (e.g., Let's go to a movie Sunday if, halevai, we are alive. And if not we'll go Tuesday) (1 August 2004)
Animal - particularly used for "cow." Used to describe a dumbbell or ignoramus, or a stolid, hardworking, uncomplaining unimaginative sort (e.g., He slaves like a behayme, and for what?! No hopes, no dreams, no lofty aspirations . . . His only mechaieh seems to involve coming home oysgematert after a long day and yentzing around, if you know what I mean!) (10 August 2004)
Moishe Kapoyr ("MOY-sheh ka-POYR")
A contrary, contradictory person (e.g., He's so backward, he's a regular Moishe Kapoyr!) (14 September 2004)
A nincompoop, an untidy person, or a beggar (e.g., I wouldn't count on a shlepper like that to be on time) (26 September 2004)
To comment idly, tease, second-guess (e.g., Are you going to help me with this, or are you just going to stand there kibitzing?) (7 November 2004)
plotz (rhymes with "watts")
To split, burst, or explode with strong negative emotion; to be aggravated beyond bearing (e.g., When my parents see my report card they're gonna plotz!) (22 November 2004)
22 February 2004 - Sunday
Wheeler: "My husband is dead! My husband is dead!"
Dr. Hood: "Lepidus. Who calls their kid Lepidus?"
Paige: "You have to see the beautiful engraving on my baby."
Moore: "Your movies are like children you're not supposed to talk to."
Corey: "I would make out with a giraffe any day."
Sharpton: "Remind me never to let you have magical powers."
Dr. Hood: "You are one of these paper-freaker-outers."
Wheeler: "Aah! Careful with my Faulkner!"
Moore: "Crap, I have a lot of toes. There are hordes of the little buggers."
Dr. Hood: "I'm going to be a grandmother. My beagle is pregnant."
Dr. Austin: "Scripture says, dance. Do that off-campus, OK?"
Rachel: "Retarded people shouldn't swear."
Wheeler: "There are more intellectual females in Tehran than in Longview. That's so sad."
Jed Z.: "I don't even have a maidservant."
Melby: "Pretend I'm a mute little toad."
Dr. Ghillebaert: "I know people who are so hung up on bread and wine, they don't like to travel."
Anna: "I saw the light flashing in my eyes -- blink, blink, blink."
Wheeler: "Frank Sinatra's song is about getting married. They're all so wonderfully pessimistic."
This post functions as the archive for quotations formerly posted in my sidebar.
Dr. Olson: "That's a praise and a prayer. I never heard of cherry butter."
Dr. Hood: "This is gonna be a whole lot of next."
Ms. Knouse: "I never understood why people would want to have so much skin showing. I say cover it up and let 'em guess a little bit."
Wheeler: "As soon as I heard 'slushie,' I knew it was gonna be bad."
Jed: "I'm a Methodist. And I'm outraged."
Moore: "'Natural family planning' sounds a lot like running around with a shotgun in the dark."
Michaela: "Stupid little people."
Dr. Solganick: "I think I need padded walls."
Anna: "'Crap' has a negative connotation."
Shroud: "Aww, I got to be a communist."
Ziggy: "So woman is law."
Martinez: "It's like making a pun out of a chair and a chihuahua."
Dr. Solganick: "But I go through all sorts of gyrations to keep you awake."
Moore: "Unfortunately, 'Abraham' and 'bosom' are two separate words."
Dr. Watson: "You'll be middle-aged someday. I just hope I'm alive to see it!"
Dr. Austin: "We began to dream, and dreams became ideas, and ideas became words, and words became sketches."
Michaela: "You remind me of Oscar Wilde. Except for the homosexuality."
Tom: "She's feminine. She has wiles."
Martinez: "He's like Dr. Seuss, only better, because he's God."
Anna: "I cannot defend women anymore if this continues!"
Rachel: "You should get out of those overalls as quickly as possible. You act weird in them."
Melby: "I have never considered the feminine form of anything."
Uncle Doug: "Oh, man, I wish I could remember these things when I start talking about them."
Dr. Olson: "It's un-American not to have seen The Princess Bride."
Martinez: "So, how was the meeting? And why did I forget to bring utensils?"
Rachel: "Ow! Ow! That's my hip! I'm not ticklish on my hip!"
Melby: "No, they're pretty people. They're blond."
Ardith: "Love is stupid."
Rachel: "Sounds like he's dying or talking about his dog."
Dr. Castro: "The first week is the honeymoon week. On the honeymoon, you learn about each other, right? So we're going to learn how we work together now."
Scholl: "They are so going to bow down to me eventually."
Melby: "'Maybe' always gave me trouble. I never thought it could be as simple as M-A-B-Y."
Melby: "I really should think about what my mouth is saying before I say it."
Sharpton: "Yeah, well, somebody's gotta ride herd on these females."
Anna: "I'm telling you, the kids are frying my brain cells!"
Wheeler: "You've had that nose for twenty-four friggin' years. Play with it some other time."
Scott: "I was a rebel as a child, so I went Presbyterian."
Randy: "Ha! Fog, you have been impaled."
Scholl: "No, actually I had a larger shovel than Mom did. I had the largest shovel."
Paige: "Why do guys have to be so moral?"
Scholl: "I mean, that's my M.O. -- people."
Sharpton: "In other words, if LeTourneau shifted into a mine shaft, we'd all be in trouble."
Wheeler: "What? No, no, no, no! My character is not brave!"
Gallagher: "It's a long time for him not to swear about babies."
Scholl: "It's the cornucopia, dawg. It just showed up and started shooting nutrition at people."
Gallagher: "Sorry. I became an idiot."
Scholl: "I've been Kwanzaa-spammed!"
Gallagher: "Mmm. Flames. Aaugh!"
Toad: "David, stop looking at Wilson and imagining him in a habanero suit!"
Scholl: "Forgive me for not being as well versed in the tea as you."
Scott: "You're centering your hot dog."
Moore: "Wilson! Agh! It scares me that I have to go back to my room and finish a presentation that you're already waiting for."
Dr. Kubricht: "And I'm not sure what this SpongeBob guy is all about . . . This may be a vision of what people will be like five years from now."
Dr. Hood: "Anna's an audit, so she can come and go as she pleases. And then I kick her."
Wheeler: "They're on the cusp of flapper."
Amy: "I think you would be most interesting in a twitterpated state."
Scholl: "Those shorts are a hate crime."
Moore: "And so I don't have to sleep to make the ping good."
Anna: "Shut up! It's a happy lovey moment!"
Dr. Kubricht: "These fetishes that people develop -- like Tootsie Roll Pops or something. It just grabs you."
Moore: "Why do I get beat up by people who take classes?"
Dr. Carl: "This is the square Jesus thing again. The next time I give a chapel speech: 'Jesus is like SpongeBob.'"
Barbour: "He's proposing to Sharpton. Just leave now."
Dr. Solganick: "The English department is Nosferatu."
Scholl: "I've been typewritered!"
Gallagher: "I think I might just have to grow a goatee and become obscene."
Wheeler: "It didn't smell much worse than papaya -- which is to say, rotting vomit."
Gallagher: "Whose posterior thinks I said that?"
Scott: "In fact, I like all of Cancer."
Ashley: "I don't like him anyway, so he's just a friend of mine."
Wheeler: "Which came first: Sodom or the Hippocratic Oath?"
Gallagher: "The Phoenicians! Somebody think of the Phoenicians!"
Dr. Solganick: "You're nothing but a biochemical heap!"
Scholl: "If somebody took your purse, you'd just have to smack them, silly."
Rachel: "It's my shoe!"
Gallagher: "Yes, and it's my bladder!"
Scott: "Capital 'C.' I said it with a capital 'C.'"
Ardith: "Yay! There's porridge in the Calc 3 homework."
Dr. Kubricht: "Nations often don't realize how inferior they are, but everyone else can see . . . you're inferior."
Dr. Solganick: "That's my shower theme. I'm Julie Andrews."
Dr. B—: "Who have been the buggers in your life?"
Moore: "It's anything on the menu, fifty percent off. I can't wait to be sixty!"
Dr. Kubricht: "If you see yourself as a man of destiny, you're going to accomplish more than if you see yourself as a man of incompetence."
Wheeler: "Why do I have all the ditzy quotes?"
Cousin Jared: "Do not — I repeat, DO NOT — dis the Dunst."
Randy: "I wish I had something explicit and offensive."
Amy: "He's my backstage fairy."
Milton: "He's my backstage fairy."
Randy: "Nicole Kidman makes me want to stick nails in my ears."
Ardith: "I was never a teenager in my life!"
Dr. Carl: "How do you represent Jesus graphically?"
Dr. B—: "Have you ever taken courses where you just memorize? You don't have to think?"
Dr. Kubricht: "Christina, why do women like short, fat little Frenchmen?"
Ardith: "I think I've gotten stupid in my old age."
Scholl: "I think Shakespeare just offended me."
Dr. Solganick: "What's your major?"
Scott: "Mechanical engineering."
Dr. Solganick: "Oh, God."
Dr. B—: "What I want to do in this class is not only warm your heart but sharpen your head."
Moore: "I watch Star Trek to see them blow up aliens, not save whales."
Mrs. Mays: "I mean that in a nice way; they're the nicest passive-aggressives you'll ever meet."
Scholl: "Freud makes everything better."
Dr. Watson: "You people are always writing down things that I say . . . I'm writing that down!"
M. Prévost: "Because if you put these assignments off during the semester, it's like letting the dog bite you on the rear end when you leave."
M. Prévost: "Clothing don't have intelligence."
M. Prévost: "We've gotta fix these languages so they can be more logical! OK, you guys are swift."
M. Prévost: "I ask the question: 'Is étudier chopped liver?'"
Moore: "Book-on-book action!"
Wheeler: "Why are people violently blinking at me?"
Scholl: "I do believe that's the first time I've seen a lecherous jalapeńo."
Wheeler: "The archetypal redneck of literature -- who would that be?'"
Scholl: "That's a pretty good deal, if you can pull it off."
Wilson: "That's what it was -- I've misplaced my halo."
Leatherwood: "If you choose to be single all your life, Paul will love you."
Uncle Danny: "My students are the dregs of society. Literally."
Aunt Sherry: "I'm just encouraging him to make something real, 'cause I'm a touchy person."
Ardith: "Dude. This is Iowa. Nobody poisons the ice cream."
Scholl: "Do you suppose a group of Baptist cowboys could put down an ELH-2 revolt?"
Uncle Doug: "I need me a woman."
Dr. Kubricht: "There's something in the tea. I think it's from North Burma."
Ardith: "Fudgy things are overrated."
Scholl: "I said, 'The monkeys of love won't come for you,' and there went my [freaking] tongue!'"
Dr. Castro: "I don't believe in ethics too much."
Lynn: "He's so clever. He must be a man!"
Martinez: "It didn't work with God; it won't work with us."
Dr. R. V. Hood: "In many ways I think that Jesus really broke the mold."
Scholl: "Jude is, like, the verse-hopping springboard of doom."
Sharpton: "Dang it! Why do I have to be such a dummkopf?"
Ardith: "I want some napalm."
Dr. R. V. Hood: "Some people think it's sacrilegious. Don't take away my chocolate."
Dr. Carlson: "If you two want to be alone, you can use my office."
Milton: "I was, like, 'Wow. Demons suck.'"
Sharon: "Drat not being a guy!"
Scholl: "Sorry. I get all excited when France gets invaded."
Dr. R. V. Hood: "My stuff always falls out of my brain. I've got a hole in the back here."
Moore: "Now you can be uncomfortably Mexican."
Wheeler: "I'd rather not think about your virility, Wilson!"
Ardith: "I don't want to give the fish a bicycle."
Dr. Kubricht: "Actually, an older girl should marry a younger guy, because then they die about the same time. It cancels out the life expectancy."
Ziggy: "Wenched. Ow, my logic!"
Scott: "Booze me, woman!"
Ardith: "I am so not buying you liquor."
Dr. Kubricht: "Is that an oxymoron? 'West Virginia Board of Education'?"
Dr. R. V. Hood: "I always come up with great ideas either when I'm warming up cookies or when I'm going to the bathroom."
Ardith: "But-b-b-b-but, no! You don't let people like that be pyros!"
Martinez: "It's a minus sign that's had one too many whiskeys."
Gillis: "Ironic. My to-do list involves death and taxes."
Wheeler: "Why do you keep referring to Wilson as 'people'?"
Scholl: "Can I have my low standards back?"
Wheeler: "I know it's bread; that's why it's funny."
Mark: "Intelligence, you probably don't need."
Wheeler: "Great chuzzy lunch menus, Batman!"
Dr. Coppinger: "Facial hair is a very good thing .... on men, on men."
Scholl: "Dude. I can't eat right without my goatee."
Prof. Payton: "Sounds like a formula for a short story. 'I was stalked by the Easter Bunny.' You never know what kinds of creeps are in those suits."
Gallagher: "How does that work?! I do not want a spherical chicken!"
Lynn: "You are of Dutch origin. You should be regulated."
Gallagher: "We get all the other grits off this one mother grit."
Jay Kessler: "I like the V8 engine. I think it's godly and American."
Scholl: "Martinez, tell us about the folly of messing with God."
Milton: "Whoa. That was nutty-pants, right there."
"But they passed the law for the public good. They don't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry slaughtering stuff in the garage." -- Dr. Kubricht
"Waaugh! My memory just caught up with the conversation!" -- Moore
"Sharptiano and I are the fruit squad, waiting for the fruit to appear." -- Moore
"But you could not lift a kid who was carrying a bag of money unless the kid was dead." -- Colin
"Don't make me can-can. There's only one of me." -- Scott
"Wow. Wow. I'm just trying to imagine life without a back." -- Amy
"I know. It's this morning-after problem." -- Mrs. Mays
"I have these little heresy buttons that go 'Mee-ah! Mee-ah! Mee-ah!'" -- Dr. Hood
"It bugs the fire out of me. People are who." -- Mrs. Stuckey
"That's what the law is all about -- finding stupid little paths to places." -- Lynn (a history/polisci major)
"I just used the word modicum. I don't say modicum!" -- Scott
"There's nothing a woman can do for you that Perl can't." -- Gallagher
"I find that it's the belly dancer that really makes the wedding reception. Write that down." -- Dr. Watson
"I like moisture in my pastry. And taste. Taste is good too." -- Wheeler
"They fuzzed my math!" -- Anna
"I had just had two cookies, and was feeling rather valiant." -- Moore
3 February 2004 - Tuesday
Honor in shame
Let's do a little culturally-conscious exegesis. Because I feel like it. And because I ran across something fun tonight.
David A. deSilva, in The Hope of Glory: Honor Discourse and New Testament Interpretation:
Cultural anthropologists have also discovered a common form of gaining honor in modern Mediterranean villages that appears to have deep roots in Mediterranean culture. Honor may be gained when a person offers a challenge to another person of equal social status and the challenged one fails to respond effectively in defense of his or her honor. This form of social interaction has been labeled the "challenge-riposte" .... The challenge may take many shapes, some of which may be overtly hostile (such as a slap across the face) and some of which appear quite innocent (such as a question) .... The witnesses will be looking for the response of the one challenged, and will adjudicate whether or not the response meets the challenge. In the words of Julian Pitt-Rivers, "the victor in any competition for honor finds his reputation enhanced by the humiliation of the vanquished."As I read this, my thoughts immediately went to Matthew 5:38-40. The idea of "turning the other cheek," failing to respond assertively when slapped across the face, takes on a slightly different meaning when viewed in a challenge-riposte context.
Western exegesis of the "turn the other cheek" command usually focuses on the violence of the act and the peacefulness of the response. Some modern pacifists seem to base their entire worldview on this one brief passage. In its cultural context, however, the key theme in the passage is perhaps not peace but humility. Jesus encourages his followers not to be so concerned with their personal honor, but to pursue personal righteousness instead. They are not to find approval from society but from the Lord. Vindication is unnecessary.
It would be improper to assert that this honor-shame dynamic is the only idea being examined in the Sermon on the Mount. However, several different elements in the sermon make more sense when viewed in this light.
When the Beatitudes praise every sort of humility, for instance, they do so within a culture that values very few things more than high community esteem; the Beatitudes provide hope of divine honor for those whom society dishonors (5:11-12). When Christ tells his disciples to be "salt and light," he tells them that they may need to be different from their culture; significantly, he says that their uniqueness should cause others to glorify God -- not them (v. 16). Anger is to be forsaken, not channeled for honor's sake (v. 22). Reconciliation is to be valued more highly than vindication (v. 24). Oaths should not be elaborate and magnificent but simple and truthful (vv. 34-37). Enemies should be loved, not conquered (vv. 44-45).
Honor in the Sermon on the Mount comes properly not from man but from God. The theme continues into the next chapter, as Christ condemns religious hypocrisy and extols the virtues of contentment.
I find it interesting that this sermon is the first major teaching that Matthew records after the formal beginning of Christ's ministry. Jesus began preaching in a context that defined an individual as a function of his society. Religious norms were the defining characteristics of a Judean's identity. Christ's disciples stood to lose a lot of honor. He proposed that his followers adhere to an alternative source of honor -- a Patron recognized an unimpeachable authority on the subject.
It is easy to lapse into a traditional Sunday school perspective on this sermon, repeating platitudes about how we should get along with everybody or conform to an especially strict set of religious rules. I think we would benefit from considering instead that Jesus was preaching an inherently nonconformist doctrine. For congregational honor he was substituting singleminded allegiance to God. For religious pride he was substituting unconditional love and personal humility. Far from being a hymn to religiosity, the sermon turns religiosity on its head. Nothing fulfills the Sermon on the Mount less than being "nice" because it is expected by the church. Only when one ignores the expectations and esteem of other men, however pious, will one understand what it means to follow Christ.