Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


A Yidisher Pop

Tila Tequila, George Clooney, and a lesson in Yiddish

Print Email

This week’s installment is about common usages and uncommon behavior. Let’s get right to it:

A Yidisher Pop

טילאַ טעקילאַ איז אַ פֿייַער פֿלאַם, זינגען זינגט זי ניט, אוּן אַלס אַקטריסע גייט איר ניט. אָבער וואַרפֿן אויף איר שמוּץ אוּן פֿאַרבלוּטיקן איר פנים קוּמט איר ניט!

Transliteration: Tila tekila iz a fayer flam, zingn zingt zi nit, un als aktrise geyt ir nit. Ober varfn af ir shmuts un farblutikn ir ponim kumt ir nit!

Meaning: Tila Tequila is a real firecracker. She can’t sing, she can’t act, but she doesn’t deserve her face muddied and bloodied!

A Yidisher Pop

אַ פּאָרל: געשפילט צוּזאַמען, חתונה געהאַט, געמאַכט מזומן אוּן נאָך אַלע גליקן — איצט אַ גט. עס האָט אויסגעזען ווי אַ זיווג פֿוּן גאָט אַליין…

Transliteration: A porl: geshpilt tsuzamen, khasene gehat, gemakht mezumen un nokh ale glikn–itst a get. Es hot oysgezen vi a ziveg fun got aleyn…

Meaning: Quite a pair: Played together, married, made some money and after all this–now a divorce. It looked like a match made in heaven…

A Yidisher Pop

ניט וויכטיק וווּ זי וווינט — מזרח, מערב. דער עיקר: הילף דאַרף זי ווייַטער.

Transliteration: Nit vikhtik vu zi voynt—mizrakh, mayrev. Der iker: hilf darf zi vayter.

Meaning: Wherever she lives—east, west. The most important thing is that she needs some help.

A Yidisher Pop

קלוּני גייט שטעלן אַ חוּפה. געוואַרט אַזוי לאַנג, איז וואַרטזשע נאָך אַ ביסל: ווילסט ניט באַשליסן צוּ גיך!

Transliteration: Kluni geyt shteln a khupe . Gevart azoy lang, iz vartdzhe nokh a bisl: vilst nit bashlisn tsu gikh!

Meaning: Clooney is about to get married. You waited so long, so wait a little bit longer: You really don’t want to jump into it!

A Yidisher Pop

אין די עקאָנאָמיע, ווער שפּרינגט אוּן לויפֿט אַוועק פֿוּן אַן אַרבעט? הער סלייטער טוּט עס, אוּן קריגט נאָך אַ בעסערע!

Transliteration: In di ekonomye, ver shpringt un loyft avek fun an arbet? Her Sleyter tut es, un krigt nokh a besere!

Meaning: In this economy, who jumps and runs away from a job? Mr. Slater did it, and got a better one!

Similar But Different:

Yiddish verb usages that are not intuitive for the English speaker include to live וווינען, and to be alive לעבן. For example:

.לינדסי גייט וווינען אין ניו-יאָרק. מיר האָפֿן אַז עס וועט זיך איר לעבן דאָרט בעסער
Lindsay is going to live in New York, and we hope she lives a cleaner life.

A second confusing pair is to be pleased by גפֿעלן and to love ליב האָבן. In Yiddish, “to like” is more common than “to love.” Let’s see how to use these two verbs:

זשאָרזשן פֿלעגט געפֿעלן שיינע פֿרויען. איצט, האָט ער ליב נאָר איינע.
George used to like pretty women, but now he only loves one.

.אייַך געפֿעלט אוּנדזער פּאָפּ אוּן איצט האָט איר יידיש ליב
You like our pop, and now you love Yiddish.

Finally, there’s the matter of asking questions. If we want to request something, we use the verb בעטן, and if we inquire about something, we use the verb פֿרעגן. With Spencer and Heidi in mind:

?זיי בעטן מען זאָל זיך ניט מישן אין זייער לעבן. אוּן מיר פֿרעגן: צוּ וואָס דאַרפֿן מיר זיך מישן
They ask that we don’t get involved in their lives. And we ask: why would we want to?

The use of זיך with verbs often signals the reflexive mode. For example:

?נאָכן באַקענען זיך מיט דעם ווילדן סלייטער… וואָס קלערט ער זיך
After getting to know the wild Slater… Who does he think he is?

.זייער הייראַט צעפֿאַלט זיך
Their marriage falls apart.

Want some homework? Go back to previous installments of A Yidisher Pop, and look for some reflexive verbs. There’s a lot of ’em…

Print Email

once again what a dealight
i enjoy every sentence although not beeing an american some time i have to ask some question for thr punch line

As usual joyful and clever! I am learning a lot about Pop Culture, incredible and in YIddish.

The Jewish Language has such a good TASTE, it’s a mechaiye to read it!
Best wishes!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

A Yidisher Pop

Tila Tequila, George Clooney, and a lesson in Yiddish

More on Tablet:

11 Non-Jewish Celebrities—and 2 Jewish Ones—Show Off Their Hebrew Tattoos

By Marjorie Ingall — You don’t have to be Jewish to sport Hebrew ink. But some of these stars should have thought twice before going under the needle.