You Won’t Have a Farbissina Punim After You Read This Blog
What’s your favorite Yiddish word and why? You’ll hear mine in a bit.
Lately I have been reading more and more mainstream news items and features with a Yiddish word thrown in. Very common is chutzpah, (nerve) schtik, (sales pitch) yenta, (a gossip) klutz, (clumsy) tchotchke, (nik-nak) zaftig, (plump, and nosh (snack.)
In Austin Powers, Mike Meyers used one of my favorite words – farbissina (sourpuss) in a character with a perpetually down-turned mouth. Isn’t Frau Farbissina exactly how you imagine the word?
Pretty good coverage for a dying language.
I have long been a Maven on the Yiddish language. I grew up among immigrant grandparents who delighted me with phrases and terms thrown out in this special, vivid language. The thing I love most about Yiddish is how it affects my senses when I hear a word. I can actually visualize the meaning by hearing the word.
Close your eyes. Even if you never heard the word schmootz, you would know it means something greasy and gross, right?
I can’t help but see plotz (to burst) or dreck (dirt), or the weight that schlep implies.
Bupkis is another that has me seeing nothingness when I read it or hear it.
Farklempt is an automatic sad face.
Chozzerai is a throwaway – a bunch of junk.
Schmattah has me visualizing a worn out garment. Schlock – same thing – cheap, poorly made stuff.
I don’t sweat, I Schvitz.
When I read about good people it brings mensch to mind.
Is it because the words are familiar to me or is it the language itself? Whatever it is, this language delights and amuses me. The words just jump into meaning for me, and being a writer, that is a fun thing.
Anyway, I have soo many favorite Yiddish words, but I have to let you in on my most favorite or I will plotz!:
The reason I love it is the sound – it is such a graphic word and it tickles me every time I hear it. It applies to me often – I like to dress nicely, even if I am going to the grocery store.
My favorite word is: Fahpitzed.
Some say I get all fahpitzed when I go out. (It means to get dolled up) Hilarious isn’t it?
What’s your favorite – one that you like to pull out pretty regularly?