a dyslexic walks into a bra . . .
Reference -- on another site -- very handy!
English or 'Hebonics'
School Board has declared Jewish English a second language. Backers of
the move say the district is the first in the nation to recognize Hebonics
as the language of many of America's Jews. Here are some descriptions
of the characteristics of the language, and samples of phrases in standard
English and Jewish English.
of Pronunciation Characteristics
or "Hebonics" hardens consonants at the ends of words.
Thus, "hand" becomes "handt."
"W" is always pronounced as if it were a "V".
Thus "walking" becomes "valking"
sounds are transformed to a guttural utterance that is virtually impossible
to spell in English. It's "ghraining" "algheady"
of Idiomatic Characteristics
are always answered with questions.
Question: "How do you feel?" Hebonics response: "How should
is often placed at the end of a sentence after a pronoun has been used
at the beginning:
"She dances beautifully, that girl."
repetition of words by adding "sh" to the front is used for
mountains becomes "shmountains" turtle becomes "shmurtle".
Standard English Phrase Hebonics Phrase
"He walks slow" "Like a fly in the ointment he walks"
"You're sexy" (unknown concept)
"Sorry, I do not know the time" "What do I look like, a clock?"
"I hope things turn out for the best" "You should BE so lucky"
"Anything can happen" "It is never so bad, it can't get worse"
Conversations with Jews...
Just because Jews are asking questions, doesn't mean they're going to
wait around for an answer. If you've got something to say, speak up. Jump
right in there with a hearty, "What, are you crazed? That's
not the way to fix a leaky faucet!" (You will never use
this phrase, however, since Jews do not do home or car repairs.)
Interrupt often. It shows that you are interested in the conversation.
If you're talking and Jews don't interrupt, they're bored.
You're on the freeway, when a sports car speeds past you, weaves between
cars and drives recklessly. Your Jewish passenger asks, "Who
gave that maniac a driver's license?"
Wrong answer: "In the 1950s, the United States made an economic decision
to encourage automobile ownership over public transportation to support
the automotive industry which created jobs and stimulated the economy.
Ever since, most anyone can get a driver's license." Correct answer:
Gentiles can also profit from learning the nuances of Hebonics.
When shopping in the garment district, a Jewish shop owner may seem insulted
at your low ball offer on merchandise. He may shout, "What,
I'm the schmuck who shouldn't feed his children?" The untrained
Gentile simply cannot translate this phrase to its true meaning, "Let
the negotiations begin."
On Rules Of Jewish Vocabulary...
Just as the Eskimos have 27 words for snow, Jews have 31 words for neurotic.
Only those fluent in Hebonics will sense when to call someone mashugana,
ts'mished, furdrehet, hot nisht ein kaup, or vaist nisht vus ehr reht.
Here are a few words to get you started.
1. "Sch--", as a prefix to anything, suggests disapproval:
"Cadillac schmadillac, you're suddenly too good for the Lincoln?"
2. Learning to pronounce "sch" properly is the first step in
speaking Hebonics like a real Jew. Nothing makes us giggle harder
than the sound of Gentiles say, "It's not raining, just spritzing."
It's the same "ssshhh" sound as the prompt to be quiet.
3. Schmuck--Most commonly used as "jerk" (literal translation
is penis), but can also be used as a "sucker," as in , "Why
am I always the schmuck who gets left with the check?"
4. Schmoe--See schmuck.
5. Schmata--Rag, as in, "Why does she wear those schmatas, that Esther?"
6. Schmaltz--Literally means chicken fat, but when used in conversation
it's sappy or corny. "The movie was OK, but why such a schmaltzy
On Posing Questions By A Jew...
1. Phrase statements as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks
gorgeous, ask her, "How stunning do you have to look?"
2. Instead of answering questions definitely, answer with another question.
When someone asks how you feel, answer, "How should I feel?"
3. Whenever possible, end questions with "or what?" This
allows the other person to interject another question: "Has
she grown up, or what?", "Can you remember when she was
just a baby, or what?" (About now, a spontaneous rendition
of "Sunrise, Sunset" should be expected.)
4. Begin questions with "What?" Example: "What,
my kishka's not good enough for you?"
5. Drop last word in sentence (which is typically a direct or indirect
object): "What, do you want to get killed going alone?
Ira will go with" (drop "you").
6. Move subject to end of sentences: "Is SHE getting heavy,
7. Use "that" as a modifier to infer contempt: "Is
Esther still dating that Norman fellow?"
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A father who wakes his wife at 4 a.m. so she can change the baby's diaper.
When Aunt Sadie gets lost in a department store and strikes up a conversation
with everyone she passes.
Having the feeling you've seen the same exasperated look on your mother's
face but not knowing exactly when.
Someone who eats leavened foods during Passover while maintaining he/she
A traditional form of self defense based on talking one's way out of a
Adult arguing that occurs as children search for hidden Passover matzo.
Inability to remember one's lines when called to read from the Torah at
one's Bar or Bat mitzvah.
An appetizer one finds out has pork in it after one has eaten it.
Pride in finding out that one's favorite celebrity is Jewish.
A deceptively sweet manner used to extract information. Key phrases include,
"trust me", "your secret is safe with me" and "if
you can't tell me, who can you tell?"
To be able to determine ethnic origins of celebrities even though their
names might be St. John, Curtis, Davis, or Taylor.
To be called on to carpool more children than one has fingers, in a car
that was made in Japan.
Matzo balls that are as good as mother used to make.
Smashing a piece of matzo to bits while trying to butter it.
A late-night assault on the refrigerator in search of leftovers even though
"I won't be able to eat for a week!"
Candy one's mother gives to her grandchildren that she never gave to her
Going to incredible lengths and troubles to find a tenth person to complete
Slang: "My son, the genius."
BRIS AND TELL
A detailed description given by parents of their child's circumcision,
generally spoken quite loud in front of the grown child and those people
he would least like to hear the story.
Looking like one isn't involved while one's dog goes to the bathroom on
a neighbor's lawn.
To drop out of law school, med school or business school, as seen through
the eyes of parents, grandparents, and Uncle Sid. (In extreme cases, simply
choosing to major in art history when Irv's son, David is majoring in
biology, is sufficient grounds for dis-kvellification.)
A Jewish flasher.
Indigestion from eating Israeli street food.
A gentile messenger.
To forget all the Hebrew one ever learned immediately after one's Bar
A Semitic smart-ass.
Major contributors to the UJA, the JUF, or the IEF.
The assorted lipstick and make-up stains found on one's face and collars
after kissing all one's aunts and cousins at a reception.
Moving from Brooklyn to Miami and finding all your old neighbors live
in the same condo as you.
A rock 'n roll band from Brooklyn.
The explanation Jewish children get for when they celebrate Hannukah while
the rest of humanity celebrates Christmas.
Finding out one's wife became pregnant after one had a vasectomy.
A special meal that Muffy O'Brien prepares for Morris Greenblatt.
The relief you feel when after many attempts the shofar is finally blown
at the end of Yom Kippur.
The result of lunch at your mother's and dinner at your mother-in law's.
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