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Yiddish Curses – an Introduction

Using Yiddish curses effectively isn’t a matter of yelling out bad words; the trick is to put good ones together in the most damaging possible way. It’s a pastime, an invitation to a dialogue, a form of recreation that lets standard Yiddish thought and speech run wild.

Many curses involve a reversal of fortune; the curse starts out sounding like a blessing – everything looks just ducky until you get to the end, where the whole thing turns around and smacks you in the face.

In a culture in which almost nobody ever admits to feeling good, it should be no surprise that a large group of Yiddish curses involves body parts and physical afflictions.

If you’re really serious about your cursing, and aren’t just toying with your cursee, you need a klole mit beyner, a curse with bones.

The terms for cursing--as distinct from simple use of "bad" words--are quite similar to those found in English: sheltn vi a mark-yidene, "to curse like a market woman"; sheltn zikh vi afn fish-mark, "to curse like in a fishmarket." We're dealing with the Yiddish equivalent of Billingsgate, the London fish market that lent its name to all kinds of bad language, a Jewish version of the dozens, the African-American insult-game, but far less sexually oriented and far more likely to be identified as a female rather than a male activity. As in all such games, victory was strictly verbal; if all the ill-wishes came true, there'd be no one left to play with.

Below are some items for sale from eBay for those of you with an interest in Yiddish.

JEWISH BALLROOM DANCE IN YIDDISH VARIOUS NEW CD JEWISH BALLROOM DANCE IN YIDDISH VARIOUS NEW CD Paypal US $28.00 23m
 
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