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A LANGUAGE CULLED FROM MANY NEIGHBORS

Yiddish is the language mainly of Eastern European and Russian Jews and their descendants.

The language dates from the beginning of this millennium and is a mixture of Germanic and Slavic words as well as the Romance languages of Italian, French and Spanish, along with Hebrew. It is written right to left, using the Hebrew alphabet.

Here's a guide to Yiddish from Alva Dworkin, a Yiddish teacher from Southfield, Mich.:

A Shande un a kharpe: A shame and a disgrace.

A glik hot mikh getrofn: A stroke of luck came to me.

Hok mir nisht kayn tchaynik: Literally, "Don't bang on my teakettle." Colloquially, Get out of my hair.

Ale mayles hot er: He has all the virtues. (Sometimes used satirically.)

Er iz a shtik ferd: He's a piece of horse, or a worthless clod.

Pust un pas: Insipid and idle.

Er hot shpilkes: He has pins. He can't sit still.

-- Suzanne Sataline

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