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A Yidisher Pop

Bristol Palin, Paula Abdul, and a lesson in Yiddish

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This week’s installment is about modal verbs and model behavior, saying your name and keeping your word. Let’s get right to it:

A Yidisher Pop

עס האָט זיך אויסגעלאָזט אַז קאַראָלייַן זשוּליאַני האָט זיך ניט אויסגעלערנט איר טאַטנס “תורה”

Transliteration: Es hot zikh oysegelozt az Karolayn Djuliani hot zikh nit oysgelernt ir tatns “toyre”

Meaning: It turns out that the daughter hasn’t really internalized the father’s “Torah”

A Yidisher Pop

מיר האָבן געהאַט פּרעזידענט רעגאַן, אוּן איצט ווײַקלעף זשאַן. איז וואָס קען עס שאַטן? (אין האַייטי, פּאָליטיקערס זינגען ניט אוּן זײַנען אויך ניט קײַן מנהיגים).

Transliteration: Mir hobn gehat prezident regan, un itst vayklif zhan iz vis ken es shatn? in hayti, politikers zingn nit un zaynen okh nit keyn minhagim).

Meaning: We had president Reagan, and now Wyclef Jean. What can go wrong? In Haiti, politicians can neither sing nor lead.

A Yidisher Pop

צוּפֿיל געפּלאַפּלט אָבער אַ וואָרטס-מענטש: ער איז טאַקע אַרויסגעקוּמען ווי אדם הראשון.

Transliteration: Tsufil geplaplet ober a vort-mentsh: er iz take aroysgekumen vi odm harishn

Meaning: He blabbered but he is a man of his word: he came out wearing his birthday suit.

A Yidisher Pop

אויס שידוּך! אַ פֿלעקעלע אַרייַן, אַ פֿלעקעלע אַרויס, אוּן די מעשה איז אויס!

Transliteration: Oys shidukh! a flekele arayn, a flekele aroys, un di mayse iz oys!

Meaning: The shidduch is over! Some drama was in, some drama was out, and now, nothing to talk about!

A Yidisher Pop

איצט וועלן מיר האָבן צוּריק פּאוּלאַס נאַרישקייַטן אַנשטאָט עלענס חכמות.

Transliteration: Itst veln mir hobn tsurik paulas narishkaytn anshtot elens khokhmes.

Meaning: Now we’ll have Paula’s silliness instead of Ellen’s clever jokes.


Modal verbs in Yiddish are formed with an auxiliary verb, and another verb in the infinitive. Some common auxiliary verbs are מוּזן (must), קענען (can), טאָרן (ought), דאַרפֿן (should), and זאָלן (should). With that in mind:

ענריקע דאַרף אַרומגיין אָנגעטאָן
— Enrique should put on his clothes
קאַראָלייַן וועט מוּזן זיך מסתמא שעמען — Caroline will feel ashamed
בריסטאָל טאָר ניט צעמישן איר קליין קינדס קאָפּ
— Bristol should stop confusing her kid
עלען דאַרף אוּנדז דערקלערן פֿאַרוואָס זי איז אַוועק — Ellen should tell us why she’s leaving

Also, in Yiddish, like in several other languages, we address the issue of someone’s name either by using the verbs הייסן or רוּפֿן. The first roughly translates to “my name is…” and the second roughly translates to “I’m called…” For example, with Wyclef Jean’s future political career in mind, he may say:

איך הייס ווייַקליף זשאַן, אָבער מען וועט מיר רוּפֿן אין גיכן פּרעזידענט זשאַן.
— My name is Wyclef Jean, but soon I’ll be called President Jean.

For a bit of homework, why not practice some Yiddish with your family and friends? You can begin by asking them ווי הייסט איר, and when they reply, introduce yourself right back. Shabbat shalom!

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Norman Samuels says:

Ich bin der emesser Yiddisher Pop: ir darft nor freggen meine kinder!

ich gey shlafen yetz . shabbat shalom Haver

It is soooo enjoyable…fun, clever and good Yiddish. Great. Thanks.

Austin Powers International Man of Mystery~ Austin Powers Yeah baby yeah


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A Yidisher Pop

Bristol Palin, Paula Abdul, and a lesson in Yiddish

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