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Yiddish Curses – Body Parts and Physical Afflictions

Image Copyright Drawing The Line Ltd.

Human anatomy receives considerable attention in Yiddish cursing and, just like leprosy, Yiddish curses cover the whole body from the ground up:

fardreyen zolstu mit di fis--may your feet be twisted
krikhn zolstu afn boykh--may you crawl on your belly
zol dir platsn di gal--may your gall-bladder burst
zol dir dreyen farn nopl--may you be turned around by the navel (suffer constant dizziness and nausea)
shteyner dir afn hartsn--stones on your heart
oysdarn zol bay dir der moyekh (der kop)--your brain (your head) should dry up
a geshvir dir in kop/in zayt/in der leber/in haldz/af der noz/af der shpits-noz--an abscess on your head/side/liver/neck/nose/tip of your nose
aroyskrikhn zoln dir di oygn fun kop--may your eyes crawl out of your head

Any part of the body that can be moved--hands, feet, tongue, fingers, toes, eyelids, elbows, knees, ankles--can also be paralyzed: “Es zol dir opnemen di hent, di fis, di tsung, di finger, di fus-finger, di ledelekh, di elnbogens, di kni, di knekhelekh, not to mention der kleyner and der eyver, two slang terms for the male member.

It is fitting that people who regard medical school as the most important non-Jewish invention of all time should put a particular emphasis on illness in their cursing:

fargelt un fargrint zolstu vern--you should turn yellow and green
a meshugenem zol men oysshraybn un dikh araynshraybn--a maniac should be crossed off the register of madmen and you should be inscribed in his place
es zol dir farshporn fun fornt un fun hintn--you should be blocked up from in front and from behind
es zol dir dunern in boykh un blitsn in di hoyzn--you should thunder in your belly and lightning in your pants
a nikhpe zol dikh khapn--you should have an epileptic seizure
a kadokhes dir in di beyner--a recurrent fever in your bones

Note that cancer, tuberculosis, leukemia and even the common heart attack are all conspicuously absent from this list. It's o.k. to curse, but you don't want to get heavy with anybody’s health. When things look serious, realism rushes back in.

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

Messiahs Chains BY Arnold Posy From Yiddish 1963 Messiahs Chains BY Arnold Posy From Yiddish 1963 Paypal US $7.99 19m
 
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