Thursday, November 15, 2007


The novelist, what's his name, Markfield, has written in a story somewhere that until he was fourteen he believed "aggravation" to be a Jewish word. Well, this is what I thought about "tumult" and "bedlam," two favorite nouns of my mother's. Also "spatula." I was already the darling of the first grade, and in every schoolroom competition, expected to win hands down, when I was asked by the teacher one day to identify a picture of what I knew perfectly well my mother referred to as a "spatula" but for the life of me I could not think of the word in English. Stammering and flushing, I sank defeated into my seat, not nearly so stunned as my teacher but badly shaken up just the same...
Phillip Roth, Portnoy's Complaint

Today, I found out that the word "snood" is not a Jewish word.


Blogger The back of the hill said...

Errrm, not to boast or anything, but having grown up in a family with ""diverse"" reading preferences, I had already run into the word snood years before cruising bloggily into the Jewish world.

There were, on the other hand, words my mother occasionally used which I have not heard since.
"Sneck (close securely) the door".
"Leave the priest-hole (small latched window in a front door) open so that the postie (postman) can come in".

Translating 'priest-hole' into Yiddish yields 'galach-loch'. I like the way it sounds.

November 16, 2007 1:49 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

A girl in my class believed that farfetched was Yiddish until 11th grade.

November 17, 2007 11:47 AM  

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