Friday, 8 October 2010


I’m currently writing a new chapter for The Demi-Monde: Summer, the third book in the series, this scene being set in the JAD, the nuJu Autonomous District, the homeland for the nuJu’s (the DM’s faux-Jewish people). This involves a meeting between Vanka Maykov (one of my lead characters) and a guy called Schmuel Glebfisz, the leader of the JAD.

I hadn’t realised how difficult it is to write yiddisher speech without it coming out as a horrible pastiche of Jewish speech patterns. The one good thing was that having had to research Jewish phraseology (‘Drek’ by Yetta Emmes and ‘Let’s Schmooze’ by Julian Sinclair are both recommended) I unearthed some real gems viz:

Bubeleh: little grandmother...there’s obviously a linguistic connection with the Russian baba here.

Molodyets: clever chap. Again there’s the same word in Russian...this is what my Russian teachers occasionally (very occasionally) called me.

Groisser sheeser: a big shot.

Shtik drek: a turd or a shithead.

Golem: an oaf...and obviously where Tolkien found the name for his character.

Shlang: a snake or a large penis. I’m gonna use this a lot...the word that is...

Thinking about it there seems to be some similarity between Yiddish and Dutch...I wonder. And as I’m currently getting into the whole bit about the proto-Indo-European language and the Urheimat hypothesis this is real food for thought.

Oy vay! But will you look at the time. Plant you now and dig you later.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realise that some of those words are widely used in Russian: shlang for a "hose" or a "very tall person", for example.