On the Horizon: One Touch of Yiddish
I remember, as a new immigrant in New York, how delighted I used to be at having a Gentile politician or policeman quite proudly come out with an occasional Yiddish expression. Where else, after all, but in Columbus’s country did a servant of the state actually bother trying to please a Jew?
By now, the novelty and thrill have worn off a bit. Our community is already celebrating the onset of its fourth century in these parts, and it is hardly likely that such elementary forms of flattery as the studied use or misuse of a Yiddish phrase still succeed in swaying Jewish votes, or in producing that warm glow of feeling that one is liked by the goyim.
Yet here are two little books currently in print which derive from the assumption that a Gentile still cannot get by without a welloiled stock of Yiddish idioms, if he wants to (a) sell soap, or (b) get the full benefit of television humor. Yiddish, it almost appears, has begun to join Latin as a language useful as professional adornment—though in this case not to law or medicine, but the arts of commerce.
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