Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Hebonics (Jewish English)... ok, so it's a little stupid...

A friend just sent this and I've got the flu, so this is it for now ...

According to Howard Schollman, linguistics professor at Brooklyn College, the sentence structure of Hebonics derives from middle and eastern European language patterns, as well as Yiddish.

Prof. Schollman explains, "In Hebonics, the response to any question is usually another question -- plus a complaint that is implied or stated. Thus 'How are you?' may be answered, 'How should I be, with my feet?'"

Schollman says that Hebonics is a superb linguistic vehicle for expressing sarcasm or skepticism. An example is the repetition of a word with "sh" or "shm" at the beginning: "Mountains, shmountains. Stay away. You want a nosebleed?"

Another Hebonics pattern is moving the subject of a sentence to the end, with its pronoun at the beginning: "It's beautiful, that dress."

Schollman says one also sees the Hebonics verb moved to the end of the sentence. Thus the response to a remark such as "He's slow as a turtle," could be: "Turtle, shmurtle! Like a fly in Vaseline he walks."

Schollman provided the following examples from his best-selling textbook, Switched-On Hebonics.

Question:"What time is it?"
English answer:"Sorry, I don't know."
Hebonic response:"What am I, a clock?"

Remark:"I hope things turn out okay."
English answer:"Thanks."
Hebonic response:"I should be so lucky!"

Remark:"Hurry up. Dinner's ready."
English answer:"Be right there."
Hebonic response:"Alright already, I'm coming. What's with the 'hurry' business? Is there a fire?"

Remark:"I like the tie you gave me; I wear it all the time."
English answer:"Glad you like it."
Hebonic response:"So what's the matter; you don't like the other ties I gave you?"

Remark:"Sarah and I are engaged."
English answer:"Congratulations!"
Hebonic response:"She could stand to gain a few pounds."

Question:Question: "Would you like to go riding with us?"
English answer:"Yes."
Hebonic response:"Riding, shmiding! Do I look like a cowboy?"

Question:To the guest of honor at a birthday party:
English answer:"Happy birthday."
Hebonic response:"A year smarter you should become."

Remark:"It's a beautiful day."
English answer:"Sure is."
Hebonic response:"So the sun is out; what else is new?"

Answering a phone call from son:
English answer:"It's been a while since you called."
Hebonic response:"You didn't wonder if I'm dead yet?"

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At 9:11 AM, Blogger Paul Chenoweth said...

I feel so enlightened...(that's hilarious stuff!!)

At 4:20 PM, Blogger kenju said...

This is sooo funny - but I thought it was just New Yorkese. My Irish mother-in-law talked like that sometimes.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Mirty said...

When we called him, my zeida (grandfather) used to answer the phone with, "Why do you hate me?"

And he wondered why we didn't call more often.... "Hello" would have been nice.


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