Does something ever sound funny to you, and you don't know quite why? Or, if you now live somewhere other than where you grew up, do you ever say things that sound funny to others? My wife and I grew up in northwestern Ohio where the word wash is pronounced "worsh." People there also "redd up" the table after meals and "redd up" the house before guests arrive. When we were in college out of state, we had to eliminate those things from our speech, or be prepared to be teased or to explain what we meant.
In several of my classes today we were talking about the placement of adverbs in French sentences. In English we often put short adverbs before the verb – as in the bold print in the first part of this sentence. My students were having trouble understanding why using English word order in French would sound weird to the French who never put the adverb before the verb. I gave them one of the classic Pennsylvania Dutch examples of funny word order, where prepositional phrase placement in sentences turns "Throw the horse some hay over the fence" into "Throw the horse over the fence some hay"), which illustrates a slightly different effect of altering word order.
Along that vein, I found some rules for Jewish grammar in my files and am posting them, followed by what would make some great Jewish Country-Western Hits.
Jewish Grammar Rules
1. When making statements, phrase them as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks gorgeous, ask her, "Ida, 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?" (Don't be surprised if someone bursts into "Sunrise, Sunset" at any moment.)
4. Begin questions with "What?" For example: "What, my cooking is 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? Harry will go with." (dropping the "you").
6. Move subject to end of sentences: "Is she getting heavy, that Esther?"
7. Use "that" as a modifier to communicate contempt: "Is Esther still dating that Norman fellow?"
8. Use "lovely" to describe actions taken by someone else that the listener should have done too: "We got a lovely note from the Goldmans for hosting the Seder." (Translation: "What, you didn't eat and drink too, at my Seder? You slob, you didn't send a thank you note!")
In using your newly obtained Jewish grammar remember that 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. Interrupt often. It shows that you are interested in the conversation. If you're talking and Jews don't interrupt you, they're bored.
Here's a lovely blend of Jewish and Country-Western phraseology and themes...
Jewish Country-Western Hits
For You I Should Be Singing?!
I Was One of the Chosen People ('Til She Chose Somebody Else)
Stand by Your Mensch
I've Got My Foot On The Glass, Where Are You?
My Rowdy Friend Levi's Comin' Over Tonight
You're the Lox My Bagel's Been Missin'
Mamas Don't Let Their Ungrateful Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys (When You Could Very Easily Have Taken Over The Family Hardware Business That My Own Father Broke His Back To Start And Your Father Sweated Over For Forty-Five Years Which Apparently Doesn't Mean Anything To You Now That You're Turning Your Back On Such A Gift!)
Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Latkes
The Second Time She Said Shalom, I Knew She Meant Goodbye
I Balanced Your Books, but You're Breaking My Heart
Four Thousand Years of Sufferin', and I Had to Marry You?!
Have you discovered things that you grew up saying that others don't understand, or what? Or have you heard some interesting regional expressions?
“God doesn't call us to blind faith – He's given us lots of evidence.” - Dr. Drew Conley
"Let me tell you the one thing I have against Moses. He took us forty years into the desert in order to bring us to the one place in the Middle East that has no oil!" - Golda Meir
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