July 11, 2013 | Yiddish
Yiddish: Yep, Germanic
Yiddish has many linguistic influences, but at the moment it sometimes seems like backwards German written in secret code.
When I went to study Yiddish yesterday at a local café, I was about to sit down on an available sofa when I noticed a small object resting on it. Here’s a photo.
Sofa, with Pea
Can you see what it is? I had to laugh.
Was this some kind of test? Would I be a sensitive enough student to notice the pea under my derriere? I feel confident I would not, and that if I hadn’t observed the pea before sitting, I would have walked around the rest of the day with a smushed green pea clinging to my ass.
I am now learning the conjugations of the verb “to be” (זייַן, or zayn, in Yiddish)—except I feel as though I already know them! I will demonstrate why.
First, here they are in German:
- ich bin = I am
- du bist = you (singular informal) are
- er/sie/es/man ist = he/she/it/one is
- wir sind = we are
- ihr seid = you (plural informal) are
- sie sind = they are
- Sie sind = you (singular and plural formal) are
Like Hebrew, Yiddish is written backwards (well, from an English or German speaker’s point of view, anyway). Yiddish looks radically different from German.
But when you examine the “to be” conjugations, the verbs—and accompanying pronouns, too!—are insanely similar to German. I have marked the Yiddish words below (which are in handwritten form, not print form, by the way) letter by letter so that you can see how close they are to being the reverse of their German equivalents.
in German, ich bin = I am
du bist = you are
er ist = he is
wir sind = we are
ihr seid = you plural are
sie sind = they are
Since I am at a quite delicate stage of the learning process right now, I am highly likely to make mistakes. If you see any, I would be very grateful if you told me! Thank you! !אַ דאַנק