Jewish-Languages Mailing List

February 2003

Date: Sat, 1 Feb 2003 21:03:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Turkish daven

I don't have the relevant books handy, but I think yagmurluk was said to
mean also something like 'a canopy', which would get a little closer to an
umbrella-shaped yarmlke. Yagmur is 'rain' and -luk just means something
like 'a thing for ___'. As for the pronunciation of yagmurluk, the letter
g is silent and makes the preceding /a/ long.

There are a number of other Turkish (and other Middle Eastern) words in
Yiddish, including nahit (=arbes 'chickpeas'), and prakes and others that
I can't think of at the moment. I'd guess that many of them exist in
Balkan languages or Ukrainian.

Robert Hoberman
Professor of Linguistics and Judaic Studies
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-4376

631-632-7462, 632-4585
631-632-9789 (fax)

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 10:20:56 -0500
From: Paul Glasser <pglasser @>
Subject: Re: Turkish daven

Dear Bob,

Thanks! Your explanation makes the Turkish theory a lot more palatable.

I was actually aware of other Turkish/Middle Eastern words in Yiddish. For
obvious reasons, most, if not all, must have entered Yiddish through
Ukrainian. One further example that comes to mind: "kavene/kovene"
'watermelon', which Ukrainian borrowed from Turkish ("kavun," right?) and
which apparently entered Turkish from some Far Eastern source. But I think
I'm thousands of miles too far afield...


Dr. Paul (Hershl) Glasser
Associate Dean, Max Weinreich Center
Senior Research Associate, Yiddish Language
212-246-6080 X6139 (ph)
212-292-1892 (fax)
mailto:pglasser @

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16 Street
New York, New York 10011

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 12:34:49 -0500
From: Edward Weiss <sw @>
Subject: Introduction

Hello all,

I've just subscribed to this mailing list, so let me go ahead and tell you a
bit about myself. My name is Ed Weiss, and I'm an undergraduate student at
the University of Toronto, majoring in linguistics. Based on some recent
observations, I thought it might be an interesting idea to research the
relationship between Canadian Raising and the peculiar (to me, at least,
being a native New Yorker!) pronunciation of Jewish (e.g. Hebrew or Yiddish)
words among the Orthodox community of the Toronto area. Case in point: I've
heard 'box' pronounced as /baks/, but 'lox' as /l^ks/. I'd be interested in
hearing from anyone who's familiar with this phenomenon, as I'm looking to
begin a research project in the near future and any input would be most

Take care,


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 12:45:55 -0500
From: George Jochnowitz <jochnowitz @>
Subject: a lox theory

Dear Ed, Dear Haverim,

In Canadian English, where there is no cot-caught distinction, the words
"box" and "hawks" would rhyme. Perhaps the eccentric pronunciation of "lox"
is an attempt to indicate that one isn't saying *lauks.


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 15:48:25 -0500
From: George Jochnowitz <jochnowitz @>
Subject: Re: a lox theory

My parents, speakers of Central Yiddish, made no disctinction between shwa
and /I/. Thus, shabes was /shabIs/. Daven was usually /davn/, but davnen
was /davInIn/.

It is my impression--just an impression--that Central Yiddish speakers are a
higher percetnage of Canadian Yiddish speakers than they are of American
Yiddish speakers.


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 12:48:33 -0600
From: Cohen, Izzy <izzy_cohen @>
Subject: a lox/box theory

In "The Joys of Yiddish", Leo Rosten writes:

A beggar mooched half a dollar and raced into
a delicatessen for a bagel and lox. The donor
followed him in and said. "I didn't give you
money to throw away on luxuries!"
The beggar replied: "When I'm broke, I can't
afford lox. When I have money, you tell me not
to spend it on lox. So tell me, Mr. Philosopher,
when can I eat lox?"

Lox appears in the Talmud as lamed-khaf-yod-samekh
LaKHiS, borrowed from Greek, but perhaps equivalent
to Hebrew aleph-lamed-taf-yod-saf ?iLTiS = salmon
when the aleph had a GHT/CHS sound. [see kelt below]

For a similar aleph = Greek X = CHS parallel,
compare Hebrew bet-aleph BaCHS = come, come in
with Gk Bacchus, the god of wine and fertility,
and with English (female body part) "box".

While we are on this topic, English tw_t is probably
derived from Hebrew TaVaH = (not a body part) box
or container. In Genesis, this word is used for
Noah's ark, a slow-moving TuB, as in rub-a-dub-dub.
I suspect this not-anatomical box was used as a
euphemism for the anatomical box until it, too,
became a TaBoo word.

izzy_cohen @

gravlax (gräv'läks) n.
boned salmon cured in sugar, salt, pepper, and dill.
[1960-65; < Sw gravlax, Norw gravlaks = grav- (cf.
Sw grava, Norw grave = to dig, bury; see GRAVE 3) +
lax, laks = salmon; see LOX 1; the salmon was orig.
cured by burying it]

grilse (grils) n. pl. <grils-es> (esp. collectively) <grilse>
an Atlantic salmon on its first return from the sea to
fresh water.
[1375-1425; late ME grills, grilles (pl.), of obscure orig.]

kelt (kelt) n.
a salmon that has spawned.
[1300-50; ME (north), of unknown orig.]

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 16:13:06 -0500
From: George Jochnowitz <jochnowitz @>
Subject: lox


I am told that one of the definitions of the Sanskrit word laksha is
"reddish-pink resin." There probably are no salmon in the waters near
The word for "salmon" in the Talmud is no doubt an Indo-Europeanism.
However, Joseph Greenberg had much to say about the ancestry of
Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic).


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 13:14:10 -0500
From: Edward Weiss <sw @>
Subject: Re: a lox theory


That's an interesting theory, and one that I'll definitely have to look into
further. The funny thing is, when I ask speakers to say 'locks,' I hear
/laks/, so it definitely seems like something in the semantics of 'lox' is
causing the effect. Other examples I've heard are 'Shabbos' = /s^bIs/
(sorry, can't figure out how to do a schwa), and 'daven' = /d^vIn/.

Thanks for the input! I'll update the list with any future findings.


Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 17:56:26 -0800
From: Sarah Bunin Benor <sbenor @>
Subject: lox

In response to Ed's question:

(using ^ for wedge and @ for schwa)

I'm very interested to hear what you eventually find in your research. In
my research on Orthodox Jewish English in the US, I've found that speakers
often pronounce the "komets" /o/ vowel in Hebrew/Yiddish loan words as
[^]. This is true in words of Hebrew/Aramaic origin (g@mor@ 'Talmud' =>
g@m^r^, losh@n hor@ 'evil tongue, gossip' => l^sh@n h^r^, hashkof@
'outlook' => hashk^f^), as well as other Yiddish words (vox 'week' =>
v^x). So I'm not surprised to hear that this vowel is common in Canadian
Jewish English, but I am surprised to hear that it is the realization of
the Yiddish [a] vowel, rather than [o]. I doubt that there is a large
enough tote-mome-loshn contingent in Toronto to have an impact on words
like Shabes, daven, and laks...

-Sarah Bunin Benor
Stanford University

Date: Mon, 3 Feb 2003 20:26:04 -0500
From: Hayim Sheynin <hsheynin @>
Subject: Re: Turkish daven

There are a lot of Turkish words and also Arabic words that came through
medium of Turkish to Yiddish and other languages of the region from Southern
Poland to the Eastern Ukraine, not to speak about Balkans and Crimea. They
are so many that it is not possible to count them on fingers of both hands.
Most of them belong to agricultural terminology, including names of fruits,
vegetables and construction materials, as well as organization of the
government and the army, particularly words for cavalry equipment.
It is not only kavun, but also harbuz, kabak, baklajan, abrikos, cheprak,
cholka, chub, chubchik, karbovanec, uzda, kosht, tabun, divan, firman,
kirpichi, arba (carriage), sultan, sharvari, ottomanka, nuga, baklava,
vazir, pasha, mukhtar, vilayet, yasak, bazaar and many, many more. I am sure
there are special works on Turkish and Arabic loan words if not in Yiddish,
for sure in Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Romanian and Bulgarian. The majority
of the same words penetrated Yiddish. Of course one would expect that
Balkan languages will include more borrowings than other languages north of
Turkey, because the former had longer contact with the Ottoman Empire.

In some languages of the region (like in Romanian) they borrowed even
Turkish suffix of Plural (Turk. -lar-/-ler-), see Romanian for Evreilor.



Dr. Hayim Y. Sheynin
Adjunct Professor of Jewish Literature
Head of Reference Services
Gratz College
7605 Old York Rd.
Melrose Park, PA 19027

Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 10:08:28 -0500
From: Paul Glasser <pglasser @>
Subject: Re: Turkish kavun, etc.

Thanks. I'd like to read more on the subject, if anyone can recommend
bibliography. One point: it might make sense to distinguish words that are
peculiar to Eastern Europe, like kavun, from those that have spread far
further, like bazaar or sultan. And let's not forget that these Turkish
words were often borrowed by Turkish as well, from Arabic, Persian, etc.


Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 00:44:42 -0800
From: Yona Sabar <sabar @>
Subject: Branja

I didn't find it either in my Weinreich Yiddish dictionary, but
according to Dan-Ben-Amotz's Hebrew slang dictionary (vol. 2, p. 59):

branja or brancha (!) < Yiddish = "branch, kind of occupation": hu
eHad ha-spetsim ba-brancha shelo = He is an expert in his area.

I am not convinced about this. I never heard brancha, and the meaning
known to me is more 'elite'.

Any other explanations?

Yona Sabar

Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 21:40:32 -0500
From: Anna Urowitz-Freudenstein <hjmod @>
Subject: Query: Branja (Schwarcz)

From: Ida & Joseph Schwarcz <idayosef @>
Subject: Query: Branja

A recent article in the Jerusalem Post used the word "branja" and translated
it as "a Yiddishism meaning clique." The word is also used in Yoram Hazony's
"The Jewish State" to mean elite. I have never heard this word in my Yiddish
speaking family. What is its oritin?
Ida Selavan Schwarcz

Dr. Ida Selavan Schwarcz
Dr. Joseph M. Schwarcz
Arad, IL-89053 Israel

Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 10:33:00 +0000
From: gennady.estraikh <gennady.estraikh @>
Subject: Re: Branja

'branzhe' is a word known to the bulk of Yiddish speakers. For instance,
Abraham Karpinowitz, a contemporary Tel Aviv-based Yiddish writer, employs
it virtually in all his stories, particularly if they are set in Vilna.
Alexander Harkavy's dictionary translates it as 'line (of commerce)'. It
stems from Polish - 'branza' (it has a diacritic that I cannot reproduce).
In Ukrainian, too, "branzha" - 'branch (of business); profession,
occupation'. Apparently, all these words (and the English 'branch') have the
same Latin ancestor.

Gennady Estraikh

Date: Thu, 20 Feb 2003 10:53:02 -0500
From: Uri Horesh <urih @>
Subject: Announcing NWAVE32 in Philadelphia


The 32nd annual meeting of NWAVE will be held in Philadelphia at
the University of Pennsylvania from October 9th to 12th, 2003. The

For more information and the Call for Papers, see the NWAVE32 web

Looking forward to seeing you all in Philadelphia in the fall,


Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 09:40:21 -0800
From: Sarah Bunin Benor <sbenor @>
Subject: call for papers - Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society

Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society
In partnership with the
Institute for Development in Education, Hebrew University

Second Call for Papers and Sessions for the
Annual Conference of the Association

A Multi-Cultural Discourse in a Multi-Crisis Society
Sunday June 15, 2003 at the Holyland Hotel, Jerusalem

We encourage and appreciate early registration

IALS cordially invites researchers and interested parties from all fields
related to the study of language and society to attend and participate in its
second national conference that will be held in Jerusalem on June 15, 2003..

The topics include: language and identity; language and education; language and
mass communication; language policy; language and immigration; language
preservation; language and social stratification; language and gender; language
and conflict; cultural contact and language contact; processes of language
acquisition; language and ideology, and many other subjects.

- The conference is open to all members of the association who have paid
the membership registration fee which includes participation in the conference
- The registration form for the association and the form for papers and
sessions proposals are enclosed
- The registration form and membership fee for the association are to be
sent via regular mail to the institute for social research at the following
The Institute for social research
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Tel Aviv University
Tel Aviv 69978
- Abstracts and papers are to be sent (as attachments) to the e-mail
address of the association: ials @ or, by regular mail, to the
institute for social research
- Information regarding the association and the conference in Jerusalem
is available in the association's internet site:

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract and session proposals: March 31, 2003

The annual conference of the association: June 15, 2003

Deadline for registration to the association
for those participating in the conference: May 5, 2003

Abstracts and Papers can be submitted in either English or Hebrew

Preliminary Conference Program

Plenary Sessions

Israeli Political Discourse and the
Communications Discourse in Times of Crises

Organizers: Prof. Shoshana Blum-Kulka and Prof. Tamar Liebes (Hebrew

Language Policy in Israel

Organizers: Prof. Bernard Spolsky (Bar-Ilan University) and
Prof. Elana Shohamy (Tel Aviv University)


Preliminary Listing

1) English in Israeli Academia - Chair: Carol Troen (Ben-Gurion
2) Sites supporting development and research of learning in Institutions
of Higher Education - Chair: Shoshan Brosh-Weitz (Tel Aviv University and the
Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya)
3) Judesmo: Contacts between Jews and Turks - Chair: David Bunis (Hebrew
4) Reported Speech and Quotations in the Vernacular and in the Israeli
Media - Chair: Haim Noy (Hebrew University)
5) Ways of analyzing linguistic register: A developmental perspective -
Chairs: Ruth Berman and Dorit Ravid (Tel Aviv University)
6) Building Meaning from Misunderstandings - Chair: Liora Weinbach (Tel
Aviv University)
7) Migration and linguistic erosion- Organizers: Elite Olshtain, Anat
Stavans, Bella Kotik (Hebrew University)
8) 'The Muses are Silent': Sociolinguistic aspects of silencing the
representations of the "other" in Israeli Discourse - Chair: Haim Noy (Hebrew
9) The Impact of intra family Marriage (blood ties) on Reading
Disabilities in the Arab Community - Chair: Salim Abu-Rabia (Haifa University)
10) The Study of Discourse and Rhetoric - Chair: Roselyne Koren (Bar-Ilan
11) Language and Ideology in Textbooks - Chair: Nurit Peled-Elhanan
(Hebrew University)
12) The Word, the Picture, and What is Inbetween - Chair: Esther
Schely-Newman (Hebrew University)
13) A Meeting of Languages and Cultures: Hebrew and Arabic in Israel -
Chair: Muhammad Amara (Bar-Ilan University)
14) Multi-Lingual Students and Issues of Word Acquisition - Chair: Marsha
Bensoussan (Haifa University)
15) Acquiring Words in a Second Tongue: The Impact of the Type of Task and
the Relevance of Words - Chair: Batia Laufer (Haifa University)
16) Male and Female Discourses: Differentiating and Unifying Strategies -
Chair: Joseph Chetrit (Haifa University)
17) The Media Discourse in an Age of Multi-Crisis - Chair: Esther
Schely-Newman (Hebrew University)
18) Language among Children - Chair: Nurit Peled-Elhanan (Hebrew
19) Written and Spoken Language - Chair: Esther Borochovsky Bar-Aba (Tel
Aviv University)
20) Language and Bridging - Chair: Liora Weinbach (Tel Aviv University)
21) Language and Globalization: Penetration of English into the Languages
of the World - Chairs: Judith Rosenhouse (Technion) and Rotem Kowner (Haifa
22) Language, Multi-Culturalism and Education - Chair: Devorah
Kalekin-Fishman (Haifa University)
23) Jewish Languages - Chair: Yaacov Bentolila (Ben-Gurion University)

Organizers of the Jerusalem Conference:

Professor Elite Olshtain
Hebrew University, Jerusalem
E-mail: mselito @

Professor Shoshana Blum-Kulka
Hebrew University, Jerusalem
E-mail: mskcusb @