Jewish Living


      At last someone has done something to render Elizabethan English into a language today’s yeshivah students can understand!  Included in Frumspeak:  The First Dictionary of Yeshivish by Chaim M. Weiser are samples of classic literature, treated to a Yeshivish update.  Here are two geshmak selections for our chashuve Jewish Faction oilam.

Antony’s Eulogy from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,

The good is oft interred with their bones.

So let it be with Caesar.  The noble Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious.

If it were so, it was a grievous fault.

And grievously hath Caesar answered it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest —

For Brutus is an honorable man,

So are they all, all honorable men —

Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me.


Yeshivish Translation

Raboisai, Roman oilam, heimishe chevra, herr zich ain.

I want to pater you from Caesar, not to give him shvach.

Rishus has a shtikl nitzchius,

The velt is keseder moineia your kavod.

By Caesar it’s also azoi.  The mechubadike Brutus

Tainahed that Caesar had big hasagos.

Oib azoi, it was a big avla.

And Caesar’s oinesh was shreklich.

Bi’reshus Brutus and his gantze chevra–

Grahda Brutus is a chashuve guy,

And his whole chabura, the zelba–

I’ll say over a hesped for Caesar.

I hold he was my chaver; by me he was a ne’eman and yashrusdik.


Hamlet’s Soliloquy

To be, or not to be: that is the question;

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them.  To die; to sleep;

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks;

That flesh is heir to — ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d.  To die; to sleep;

To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there’s the rub;

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause.  There’s the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.


Yeshivish Translation by Shaya Eisen

You can kleir azoi:  to be, or chalila, fahkert.

Whether it’s eppis more chashuv to be soivel yisurim

That shrekliche mazel foders

Or if it’s an eitzah to be moiche keneged a velt of tzoris

And al yedei zeh be meakev them; to be niftar; to chap a shluf;

Shoin; and pshat is we end

The agmas nefesh and the thousand natural klops

That gashmius is noite to — ‘Tis a tachlis

Someone might daven for.  To die; to shluf;

To chap a shluf? Efsher to dream!  Takeh, that’s the stira:

For in that nitzchiyusdike shluf there’s a shaila on

The teva of the chaloimos that would come

Once we have become potur from this tzudreita gashmius.

That shafs a chiyuv to be oimed on a chakira.

This sofek is the zach

That makes this kvetshed out life so ee-geshmak.

Selections reprinted with permission from Jason Aronson, Inc..  Frumspeak is an indispensable lexicon for serious students of Yeshivish or anyone else who wants to know what on earth is going on.

This article was featured in the Spring 1997 issue of Jewish Action.
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