Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Experiment in terminology distortion

I just conducted a little experiment in terminology distortion. That post I wrote about my negative Shabbos experiences was also guest-posted on Daas Torah blog. One commenter in particular, seems to be looking for excuses to say I'm not a real Jewess.

One of the items she honed in on was my not recognizing the term "bishul akum" when it was distorted. So, I asked on my Facebook status, "what is bishah lackum?" A guy recognized it RIGHT away. An FFB girl recognized it but, only knew it had to do with cooking. The other FFB girl didn't recognize it until she called me on the phone and I pronounced it. Then she knew what it was exactly. Finally, the messianic girl who was in the Army with a girl I trained with in the Army (we FB met over the status comments of the mutual friend) said that her rabbi didn't know what it was. However, Bishah, is apparently a city in the Middle East. Who knew?


  1. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret says:

    Oh, man. That reminds me of a story about a guy we sponsored who was attending a conversion program with a wildly mixed bunch of candidates.

    One of the rabbanim referred to Hirsch's classic, "Horeb", and advised them, despite their limited budgets, to purchase the book.

    "It's a good toelet," said the rav, meaning the book was a worthwhile investment.

    The students were totally confused. "What do you MEAN, it's a good toilet? We thought you weren't even supposed to bring these books into the toilet!"

  2. The Curmudgeonly Israeli Giyoret adds:

    And who is this "Biddy Avid" they keep talking about? Must be some Irish girl...

  3. LOL!

    I can't figure out what the biddy avid is supposed to be????

  4. The Very Presumptuous Curmudgeon says:


    I couldn't tell what they were talking about. Then I found out it wasn't Hebrew they were speaking. Hebrew DEFINITELY ranks lower on the Ashkenazi Frumometer, especially in גלות

    And as a nurse, I always do a double-take when they talk about "a special zchus". סחוס in Hebrew means "cartillage".

  5. There was an amazing play I saw a few years ago put on by the Jewish Heritage Center in Queens. One of the skits had some women in a yeshiva and they kept hearing "Morah A", "Morah B". and they wanted to know why all the teachers had the same first name.

    Hang in there, the terminology will come and don't ever hesitate to ask questions - of people who won't make fun, but would be happy to answer.

  6. I know the term. The point is that if something gets distorted, you might not recognize it.

  7. I don't think it is a problem of distortion, it is just that more Chareidi-leaning Ashkenazim are going to use a pronunciation based on the pronunciation that was used wherever their group originated in Europe, so Litvishe people will say things one way, Yekkishe people another, and Chasidim will pronounce things in several ways. You'll be hard pressed to find a Chareidi Ashkenazi non-Israeli who says "bishool ah'koom" in regular speech when discussing halacha or Judaism. If you happened to have been with your average (non-Lubavitch) Chasidishe person, the pronunciation that one of us would have used would have been even more different than what most are used to.

  8. There's a surprising amount of context recognition that humans use to correctly assemble phonemes. This can lead to some very amusing auditory illusions: See for example:


    (Warning: After you hear this you'll have trouble hearing the correct words to the song ever again)

  9. I had never heard this pronounced at all by any group, so, this is how my mind constructed the phrase. Furthermore, like many bachurs, the guy was mumbling.

  10. Update.... the messianic girl's rabbi recognized it when she re-texted it to him properly spelled.

    Hey, I should have used bih shelackim. Do you all think that would have been harder to catch?

  11. Definitely, it all depends on the accent. To me, Zohar Hakadosh will always be Zoakudesh!