DiscoverSlate Presents Lexicon ValleyIs There a Jewish Way of Talking?

Is There a Jewish Way of Talking?

Update: 2017-06-131
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John McWhorter interrupts the hosts of Unorthodox to discuss hallmarks and stereotypes of Jewish communication style.

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Lee is brought to you by The Great courses plus learn about topics that interest you all taught by award experts signed up for free month of unlimited access by going to the great courses plus dot com slash lexicon and head space download the head space to train your mind for a happier healthier life learn more head space dot com slash lexicon the welcome again to lexicon Valley slate podcast about language or language and linguistics because I teach English in Colombia and I like to say that word in any case some tonic water and this week is going to be like um remember how in the seventies when a sitcom was failing they would bring it together with some other sitcom it's a different strokes and hello Larry would get together and are whoever of you anyway so that was the sort of thing that would happen you have that kind of very special episode this is a very special episode of lexicon Valley except lexicon Valley at least in my opinion is not failing and either is the wonderful podcast on Orthodox but I've got the unorthodox votes up in here with me and we're going to do a joint show about Jewish language who I mean well we have Mark Oppenheimer Highmark I like to think that has family ties goes to England for example for example yeah although did they meet the cast of some other so they brought in a street urchin they got another baby in and that's how they saved off who fell in love because by then I'd stop was Mallory would have been highly is owned by yeah yeah so this is family ties in England and also as we just heard only Olivet welcome to the show I prefer to think of it is the Love Boat which is my absolute fave I didn't get together with men got together with everyone caught a break in support of IR de they got together with whoever would get together with you know what so doesn't hold up if you watch it again today the love I I it's Stephanie but Nic thank you for being here writing of this is The Mindy Project crossing over with Brooklyn Nine Nine that would be cool and actually wait that happened that day happened yet so I thought that if that's right those are two shows that everybody what's more especially The Mindy Project its failing and supported me in any case our topic today is the kind of ties into the fact that I've touched on there being a black English noun than my thesis has been that yes there is a such thing but is there such thing this would be of interest of course to the unorthodox crew is there such thing as Jewish Inglis and if there is what is it and if there is and why not I could not NOT kick this all off with the following clip which I know you're all thinking about so let's hear this year as as an introductory not get as to what to do it in with Mike a Mother's Day and my daughter Robin did not show up she's getting married in this dish is visiting his mother so now I'm sitting in our lane via staying alone like adore the Thanks a lot and out with the garbage they take now the new bat and the arrow I had reviewed I drained it for you Robin now I'm getting a little because the talk amongst yourselves so the question becomes folks is there a Jewish way of talking about on a three Jews to tell you that yes it did because it's calling every age are probably several of the one we taught and others we would never dream of talking right I mean let me take that one has to start with Mike Myers of course is in Jewish space that character on his ex mother in law his and left his wife but at that I was busy I guess that is based on Robin's mother Robin was a Jew s and what's interesting is that to me is a Jewish accent of a particular generation nobody talks like that anymore like to tell a story like their parents wed so then after that year and it was also fairly indistinguishable from the New York accent of that generation which you talked about on your show and it also has sort of gone away I think it lives on and Stephanie time if you've written here living and one on one island sites or live a whole different host of issues the frantic feel honored to be new but it lives on in Orthodox communities there is definitely unorthodox peak that if you get to communities they're a little bit more insular and little bit less affected by popular culture that if you heard someone talking like that I would say that someone come out of a Modern Orthodox enclave there still people who sound like real life Linda Richmond's in the Orthodox community to assess community the twenty Shiva will speak this wonderful language evil Yeshiva right which actually doesn't sound so much like this but is as a lot of that code switching thing going on it's less accent is more like this thing that I'm telling you about like there's almost this whole new deck gets facelift as language and the way while they're giving you a cuppa tea yes if you go to lecture by sort of like a modern Orthodox or unorthodox professor they're sort of this is cadence that has almost a textual metabolism in someway things and what sounds the lake English you know hey if you think I painted a just remember it's mama says certitude of an afterthought so did you get what I So in other words there's this language this you see this language there that is spoken I think we need to hear this in order to get a sense I happen to have a clip of Chivas being sung by a few vibrant young man and so let's hear this The The The The The The The fact is yeah yeah I was too far Arbor Day Tree Holiday Tree yeah you know there's a Charlie Brown special called It's Arbor Day Charlie Brown I just thought that we got in there anyway that's what tubes five is yet again to that mix of English with Yiddish words or Hebrew words dropped in there so for example he says the Falcons on the line Falcons a matchmaker right so you will hear that mix from people who are deep in the the ultra Orthodox community of the Shiva learning but that's almost pre Linda Richmond like that it was reminiscent of like what the great grandparents talk like enrichment comes out of like secular Bronx or love my little island that purple and write what is out of the freezer that he says yes this is one of the most amazing things there are a lot of expressions in you He wish that make zero sense to speakers of English like out of the freezer this doesn't ring true ring true well yes Klingon is from Yiddish these are direct translations from the addition of a hundred of those writing just have to know yup and re translate in your mind as you're speaking or listening back to the original Yiddish oh yeah and with them just like how people say I stayed by you and I stayed with you right that some German I don't know if this is from Yiddish or if this is a major thing I don't know from that I know for the love like that such a Jewish thing I have I think all sorts of Jews say it's mostly an older generation but then I don't but people from our church will say it to slightly ironically but then again I say ironic you know like she doesn't know from the deli but the vet was very American but you're right there's a couple that come out of German syntax by way of yet are so step right out I say buy them for Chavez but another one is you want that I should go with you the one that I should that's coming out of Germans into any of the three of you say that yes definitely would any of the three of you say you want us to go with you who would say Oh Mark today I went to my two girls who I am the one that we should go and a resident of you wanted to marry would any of my Orthodox Jewish students at Columbia say that I think if you came out of an Orthodox neighborhood here in a contemporary environment I feel like you want that I should add that seems like how your parents talk to your heart to say something in the house right now say things like I know from his podcasts the sentence seems so right I would never say that in a sort of started slipping it in almost accidentally this point and I was thinking the same with a straight face or is it effective affective yet saying American in the streets Yiddish and he's exactly what I thought I remember was I was reading a profile of the New York I think of William Julius Wilson The Black scholar at the way to say how this is going to tan with and somebody was talking about him one of his black friend about how he was so Ivy League ready to dress in Chicago than his Harvard and one of his black friends Curtis and you know behind closed doors he's really get down brother linguistically he could do black top but it literally he can switch he could switch but it literally was only when the door was closed and was like six ml sons and no doubt getting this a little bit wrong but my memory was isn't this the analogy here not just the switches but he switches literally when the doors closed and there are certain things like I think of Columbia allow after the fifth post Chavez dinners shot of slave events you might hear some may want that I should go to the uh when the mice are off I go full dog in the AM but they must have just enough to be talking to a sly guy died we're going to get the good things like We kill you to call your mother like phrases that actually have been right after that I have no idea where I can imagine with Alan Plunkett signal doing this to you too probably the Holocaust it's a joke on this podcast is the first time given that I'm not usually it was in enough pain like dying just right but that's alright I mean that's the punchline a display like OJ a new right down into Harvard and Yale a voice voice that was it something in the world don't know anyone talks think the weirdest thing that die a new song by the way is my favorite of you people's phones that died I when is that when I married my wife who is a Jew with her to do with it I don't like it was a great debate going on in our pod with soft as well how do you feel about the grass only very ironically are you bringing back the room like Stanley Crouch was Ave arbitrarily Negro is obsolete into some people insulting Stanley Crouch likes to use it with a certain aggressive irony but you there's no room for new dress not all if anything it conveys something on a poster about in the skates leave I understand that but we at an Orthodox are bringing back the rain that every to say as did us in the US there's two s positive ways of saying it to me it just conjures this like Nazi lead in stereotype filled thing my wife would feel the are like Yeah I'm a proud dad asked us if they are they less of the strategy was clear right the blogg of the Jewish Women's archive in Boston has called us is without the the the the the the the the the our lives are literally shaped by the words in the gestures that we use we face minefield of miscommunication everyday The Great courses now have a course that actually about that it's called effective communication skills and it's really something think about because communication is about more than knowing a lot of ten dollar more than being together it's all sorts of things that constitute this mysterious thing that this caucus now called language and that is of course just one of hundreds of video courses plus has just about interests you I can barely think of they don't have a course for interest somebody they've got cooking and photography now that you haven't thought about them time right now they are actually giving my listeners a special opportunity to watch any of these things for free to sign up through my special URL to start your FREE one month trial that starts right now the Great courses dot com slash lexicon this degree courses plus the com slash lexicon do it now you won't regret why are you guys not mentioning the words though because for me Jewish language has been all these words that my wife and her family pop up with like pawn them for face and being on spill because in all those which to me are a collection because I find them exotic and I get upset that I never seem to know them all out those part of it are those now seen as something kind of antique two meters are seeing this goes yeah like my fiance does say focus like he gets focused for flights and everyone heard that word I did what the bin like you like your inner man yet write like I had shoulder surgery right now I'm even feeling some spill because in my hand that's right he uses it differently in it I think in the version that has evolved to be in me like an angel on pins and add the sounds you feeling nervous I think you're also that that kind of differences in shading yes because in my family ordinarily would say something for Clinton a go ahead and go to you was a totally have a British Bill Cassell a look at your point him or you can't be a one hundred percent but Skippy had been coughing cough so I think every family has a different collection of ones that have persisted so interesting in my family a happy was I mean my mother was absolutely and I come from several generations of secular Jews with affection for for Yiddish and socialist politics but no religion right and I brought the religion back much to everyone for Grant but happy was never went away and taught us never went away totally but they didn't for example to put him and I sat to my kids which is huge and I I read an article recently that actually some words have come back so for example everyone knows we need to go to schl now which is to go to synagogue highly American Jews of any any tradition people don't have a lot of you to interact or say where to go to salon Saturday yet thirty years ago I didn't know anyone it's just another point of discussion that we had an on the show when we were talking about what you're for it to us do you call it a Shoal a temple or synagogue also the matter of what you wish each other on holiday to say Happy Holiday or getting on to finish our house a mess in Heber it's four shots alone much of a sensor and that to me to pay what you say it it sort of signals where you are on the religious motto I hear consummate thrown than the young tough one because young tough to me is interesting because it's Yom toe vintage you to see et-cetera that I who cares about the eye in this case I can grab onto the console math to me well that's Hebrew and it sits higher and it's more distant but that's what I hear out on the streets why because people are very cheap signaling because Israel because the result is a summer camp counselors over thirty and forty years have come from Israel and so they've re infuse the language with modern Hebrew again I went to Heber School and yet was handsome and young lad at math like me saying that he really saying all that stuff and we said sure but Shalom about Shalom hey that this is a familiar thing I found the people in the more typically people in the more religious and of the spectrum would say that Chavez or any of the UN to have like but now I think there is a rising young people and bringing that back in an interesting way this year's revival that I keep hearing about because of course the world on this metaphorical Street used to be that you This is a dying language even though tens of thousands of children at any given time are being raised in the language in the United States and yet it's mostly a dying language because it's no longer use as much on the page but I always thought there are thousands of languages in the world that would give anything to be being passed on to tens of thousands of children at a time but now there's a Yiddish revival is that real or is it something that people are talking about that isn't happening the way but it is not to use much on the page where people go for information these days to no space on it but it is only spoken is not a lot to target a newspaper I mean years continues to be a contemporary language in the Hasidic community and only in the most closed off part of the Hasidic community so sad to see him do research on speaking yes right but there has taken is where the kids are much more comfortable in English so you know the great compares would be Amish like do they still speak the old German German German in high the kids speaking it better than English I doubt that maybe some towns I think the one that either of idly about is that university in Rome and yet that's what I meant is high yet when I get is punk bands unlike the klezmer movements of a hipster thing right that taking back ish taken aback klezmer taking back all the sort of like old world identities and is a political angle to it like everything I think this comfortable way for a lot of younger Jews who don't necessarily feel comfortable with the religion and certainly don't feel comfortable with Israel to reclaim Jewish identity by saying OK we're reaching back home for years look at us were very engaged with heritage but were doing it through this cosmopolitan international universal list socialists Sasa Sasa for the hast right right that's interesting I want to play a clip while we're on the subject of the old conception of the Jewish ness of one's parents being about Yiddish or a Yiddish accent it's harder to hear this now but this is from the ancient radio show The Goldberg's and it's now talked about more than actually heard but this is Gertrude Berg who actually did not have this old Yiddish accent but did it while doing a scene where she is shampoo in her daughter's hair they actually used the shampoo and water in the studio when they did this in nineteen forty one so here's an example of how a young Jewish woman would have spoken in nineteen forty one and it's the grand York accent is not meant for comedy this is somebody who now we would think of is about ninety but this is when she was young and this is her mother doing her hair and we hear that the mother is somebody who grew up with the addition speaks English in a way that signals that so here is Gertrude Berg and Roslyn Silver not sober as it sometimes isn't some sources Roslyn Silver and they are doing the shampoo seen from the Goldberg's in nineteen forty one the the the the the the the the the the rest of the night the sample you come in the the UConn was the one of them becomes the victim the end of the The open my the have the the eye so that is a little scene I will not share with you how much of that radio show I listen to because I'm crazy and I've seen all the surviving TV episodes very charming show it's not engage as much as to be of any of you ever done the Gophers or is it is dead except in my house and one other person I've watched I had a great TV trivia book I was like a lot of Ireland is a trivia of sass and I remember reading about the Goldberg's I did too well yet so I'm intrigued that the mother from the old country basically is played a summer job talk of war I was dying I mean that was bizarre note to me I have known by my grandparents on my father's side died rather young but had an aunt who lived until just last year and she had was not that strong but to me I felt at hearing the sounds kind of just sort of accent but you know you live in this country for your adult life and it's the sort of retainer is yet I highly recommend going online and finding the Goldberg's TV episode where they do the whole cold need re can actually be in not a comedy it was actually very touching at times and I say that given no experience tells me this week special the for big ratings are very calm and moderation fifteen minutes on it let me do a quick little little quiz here liao what is Josh Groban what is touching yes I am a mammal carbon based life form was career he's a singer in eighteen twelve and comet of sunshine plea as braided g the RG singer yes yes Sanders singer now going to make a fool of myself but singer versus singer because singer and finger do not rhyme precisely in the English of most Americans if you say sing girl you're in as far as how that word is pronounced in my experience the only people I've ever heard to say singer our north eastern urban Jewish people am I wrong is it the same people who say Florida there will be overlap Florida hired population of Florida the Rosalie tells Israel and in live here till you and so on and on some words to the standoff that somebody should write what I say can you ask me to question what the road could you all entertained in the one that somebody where you are my golden voice roulette with that guy's name who belong to lay out what is what is what is Alanis Morissette thing or you didn't think he interrupted me see Canary do I try not to what was Ethel Mormon and the singer ok so you can use a center because he's from like as if I going with us his law has been about him is lost so I just stepped out of L Bean and the low cost or the illegal it's so good so that I throw at you how do you say the word that in French is pasta has in English because my father in law being a Jew from the Lower East Side born nineteen thirty something but this is not just Jewish this is New York says the costs costs costs yet now because I'm going to take the Uptown bus into the class that sound familiar to you to know I know that to me ok this off death but you'll hear I hear in my own life from some elderly Jews but I realized I hear it from older New Yorkers although New Yorkers a W is are like my mother in law got them on the island would say eyesore yeah that's an American thing that overlaps with Jewish ness but it's definitely it's definitely there I had never heard the Florida until we were talking in the office a tablet one day and somebody said Florida orange orange our horrible yet I say all those words that way I went to college and all my friends like you talk so weird nothing is on an accident and no it's these words saying the same as a hard one as amended when somebody can hear I guess she's the guest of the fact that a lot of hundred people are hearing with certain things they read as Jewish is there hearing urban or northeastern real I think that I don't know how that relates to say Irish and Italian American New Yorkers I mean if you give me a Boston accent I read Iris because I gave in her shoes it so that he was Irish Americans now make the urban accent here's Boston that kept her here Mike is where we have the words a tablet the use of this project of words expressions that only Jews would use one of them a gala event is asthmatic spatula to its advantages with this is actually before even the stuff that I'm one hundred percent sure only Jews hundred percent of a son Hunter sent give me an example of its uses did you like Wonder Woman The Movie hundred percent that's too profound I've been obsessed with this for awhile I didn't hear Ty as a journalist interviewed some Orthodox people is ubiquitous and ever for Modern orthodoxy all the way to alter and click their tongue like that that thing that I've heard the of the I've seen her in a Columbia or their colleagues are most Orthodox colleagues with America demonstrated so I don't get accused of terror to question Have you seen the Wonder Woman movie and what you think after all of this coverage so the the cross I love seventies hero movies it's not that I love Wonder Woman is that I had a regular alley singer of the president I think we go to Fort Worth like the Woody Allen a boy I go I'm slapping to the store like I don't think that's so real anymore I think it's almost this young Jewish actors actresses sort of do it like I think they're sort of a very African thing that's going over people say slap and tell you the stump and I know stuff is fab you can curse and curse all the time no way it makes me more furious than people who say oh yea just like as a sort of a physician like oh hey yeah I have heard many people say oi effectively them nope that's that's just because you think it's due to gradual pace was basically why that one because that would be something that someone who has precisely zero Jewish or not is precisely zero connection to the actual Fe The cult or anything else would just say as an easy way to Telegraph the look and they being us know this is what all the Mel about the safety of lesson though so it just when people perform like I say or is it knowing I can say I think I know people and we are the well certainly that's an open ear as I was and I don't use um could you imagine you or people you know in the Just Me Sometimes you an editor sent back a draft all Martin's I had in one work this weekend even just the same it was a fresh look in there the go deeper I feel real I have to say I get what you're saying like the sort of campy oily I don't like that but I do think that there is no replacement for it knows what sends me text you like was coming to me You But Then just like that kind of think is a boy or like there's a way in which that Telegraph sympathy and understanding and envy and as most like that's the one I have time to get responses I have the text message with the motif of the boy like I get it boy says I understand exactly what you just said I know how annoying it is you let's be honest most problems they are in the mind and there's fear there's anger there's stress there's anxiety sleeplessness in other words basically life is a Western person it all starts in your head but you really can wreck what can help is meditation you've probably heard that you haven't heard something more specific which is the head States is meditation Made Simple selling the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness you've heard that term the head space app provides guided meditation you can use whenever you want wherever you want on your phone computer or tablet I actually had operation the other day they've been giving me purpose that has made me much calmer and creative in certain ways but you can't do that all the time if you can't use purpose that you that space one percent can the other ninety download the head space that can train a happier healthier life head space com slash lexicon that is heads based dot com slash lexicon and now back to the show because I want to transition to another topic because I want to make sure we get this and I have a lot I am saying weighing as I'm doing alright do is just a second language and there's a wonderful passage by now you have at least twenty odd years in which to finish your sentences this is somebody who's about to marry into a Jewish family this is enough for anybody we hope you enjoyed the luxury while you had it because you will never finish one again nor would you want to the more interruptions the more enthusiastic conversation three or four people talking at once is ideal this is your signal of acceptance of no one jumps in to join the fun it means that what you're spending is boring here is an example of that from none other than Annie Hall I know that you all been waiting for us to do a clip from that and here's a clip of what's been called overlapping conversation among New York Jewish people in actually academic literature remember I touched on this in my conversation not long with Deborah tan anyway here is the clip the Sangha
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Is There a Jewish Way of Talking?

Slate Magazine/Panoply