LINGUIST List 4.634

Wed 25 Aug 1993

FYI: Fun (sort of): it's not Yiddish

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  1. "Ellen F. Prince", Re: 4.622 Fun: Yiddish, Greengrocer
  2. , RE: 4.584 Just for fun: Research, Yiddish

Message 1: Re: 4.622 Fun: Yiddish, Greengrocer

Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1993 00:19:29 Re: 4.622 Fun: Yiddish, Greengrocer
From: "Ellen F. Prince" <ellencentral.cis.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 4.622 Fun: Yiddish, Greengrocer

>From: AHARRIS - Alan Harris <VCSPC005VAX.CSUN.EDU>
>Subject: RE: 4.594 Just for Fun: Yiddish/Hebrew Pun
>I guess it is time to tell an old Yiddish/French pun joke:

with all due respect, i suspect that your 'yiddish/french' pun joke is
originally a german-pretending-to-be-yiddish/french joke. i'm not even thinking
of the wording, which is far closer to bad german than to bad yiddish, but of
two crucial items in the joke:

>And the son says: Ich bin gelehrnt dat a palatz is a chato; unt a sheine palat
z
>is a bo chato [I learned that a house is a chateau; and a beautiful house is a
>beau chateau NB. which of course sounds like the opening line of all prayers
>in Hebrew [baroch ato. . .]

i couldn't figure out the pun at first. what finally occurred to me was that it
might rely on a spelling (mis)pronunciation of _baroch_. of course the word is
pronounced /borukh/; /borukh ato/ (which means 'blessed [art] thou' in hebrew,
as pronounced by yiddish speakers) cannot make for a pun on _chateau_. if this
is the relevant pun, i would venture a guess that it is one that no one who
knew any yiddish could make--in yiddish, of course, there isn't even the
possibility of a pun based on spelling here, since the /sh/ of _chateau_ and
the /kh/ of _borukh ato_ are represented by different (hebrew) letters, shin
and khof, respectively.

>Now the papa cannot believe his ears re: this learning of Hebrew prayers in a
>French school so he says, a bit incredulously: Azoi? [Is that the truth/is
>that really so?]
>And the son says proudly: Yah, Papa, unt azoi in Fransozish is
>azoi! [Yup, Pop, that's right. And "indeed" in French is [wazo] oiseau!]

again, this is hard to believe as a yiddish pun. the yiddish word _azoy_
doesn't sound at all like _oiseau_. however, the german word _also_ at least
has the right vowels.

>It probably is better in its nonsense form in the Yiddish telling...

i guess my real sense is that this joke never had a 'yiddish' telling and is
more likely a (non-jewish) german speaker's attempt at making fun of yiddish
speakers.

ellen prince
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Message 2: RE: 4.584 Just for fun: Research, Yiddish

Date: Tue, 24 Aug 93 15:13 GMT RE: 4.584 Just for fun: Research, Yiddish
From: <HILTONMWESTMINSTER.AC.UK>
Subject: RE: 4.584 Just for fun: Research, Yiddish

A further entry for Alan Harris' list of true meanings of expressions in
academic papers, perhaps -

I have long suspected that the expression "presumed/presumably universal" at
the start of a linguistics paper really means, "I don't for a moment think it
is, but if I presume so, I'll get another paper out of this work, refuting my
presumption in this one."

Mark Hilton
University of Westminster
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