Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Episode 88: Conversations - With Daniel Klein Transcript

 Click on Read More for the full transcript. If you are a Yiddish speaker and see something I may have mistyped or misunderstood, please let me know! - Dan *bunnytrailspod at gmail*

Shauna (00:00):

Welcome to Bunny Trails, a whimsical adventure of idioms and other turns of phrase I'm Shauna Harrison

Dan (00:06):

And I'm Dan Pugh this week is our second installment of our "Conversations" series, where we talk to fellow word nerds about general word nerdery. This week is New York Times bestselling author, Daniel Klein. His new book Schmegoogle: Yiddish words for modern times, makes him the perfect person to talk to us today about the evolution of language

Shauna (00:28):

We talk how Yiddish needs to evolve to cover things like the internet, sexuality, and legal weed. Words, like appschvitz, the result of being annoyed or made anxious by one's inability to get one smartphone to work as desired, or Meshuga-nug, which means someone who is just crazy about marijuana and for whom there is no such thing as being too high. We also cover Yiddish roots, the comedic styles of different languages, parallels between Yiddish and the Black community, and the importance of being able to make fun of yourself.

Daniel Klein (01:04):

But first we need to give a quick word of thanks to our patrons, including Pat Rowe and Mary Lopez. Without our patrons this show just wouldn't be possible. Head to to learn more about how you can keep Bunny Trails going week after week. And without further ado, New York Times bestselling author Daniel Klein. Danny, welcome to the show.

Daniel Klein (01:26):

Thank you. It's an honor to be here. I really like your mission. I love this stuff.

Shauna (01:31):

Thank you! Your book, Schmegoogle, looks at Yiddish for modern language. So you must have given some serious thought to the way language changes and morphs over time. What are your thoughts on the evolution of language?

Daniel Klein (01:45):

Yeah, I'll tell you a funny story that has nothing to do with Yiddish a language that I really like or a slang that I really liked, and that has endured for centuries is rhyming slang, Cockney English. I'm sure you've heard of it. And it's a weird, weird language because what they do is you'll, you'll use a rhyme for the real thing, like, uh, uh, to say the, uh, stairs, you say apples and pears and the rhyme is pears. So I'm gonna walk up the apples and pears, but then they drop the rhyme and they say, I'm going to walk up to the apples. It makes no sense at all, but it's fascinating. And, um, and, um, and then one guy, a guy I met in England who was Cockney, but also spoke regular English, explained to me the origin of the expression 'pop goes the weasel'.

Daniel Klein (02:58):

You know, that song... A nickel for... Pop goes, the weasel. He says, pop is, um, Cockney slang for uncle and uncle is the pawn shop is the guy that runs the pawn shop. And Weasel is a degradation of the word whistle, which is the rhyming slang whistling flute. It's just really weird to follow, whistling flute, which is the rhyme for suit. So pop goes to the weasel means I've run out of money. So I have to pawn on my suit.

Shauna (03:41):

Oh my goodness. Wow.

Daniel Klein (03:43):

So then flash forward to, you know, and, uh, I'm taking our daughter to the, um, to a, one of these living history, museums for pilgrims, and they're all dressed like pilgrims and we go into one room and there's a woman dressed as a Pilgrim. Who's spinning cotton or wool, I guess, But she's spinning cotton. And she says, the things that the raw cotton spins off of is called the weasel. And when it comes to the end, it pops off. And that's where you get the expression pop goes the weasel. I don't trust either of these people. I have no idea where the true etymology is.

Dan (04:45):

Well, we find that quite a bit where we go back and we see multiple, uh, origin stories. And one of the things we do quite a bit is look through newspaper archives. And the library of Congress for the United States has, uh, a vast array of microfilms of newspapers going back to the late 17 hundreds. And it's a searchable database. So we go back and look, and we'll oftentimes find newspapers that will print something in 18 hundreds. That is an origin story for a phrase. But then in the 19 hundreds, it'll be a different origin story for the phrase and in the newspapers. And it's, it's so fascinating to see how people think it changes. So this book is, uh, all about, uh, new Yiddish, um, Yiddish words that are, or terms, that are built off of the existing way Yiddish is used. So what are some of the words you found, uh, in your research and, and when writing this book, what are some of the words that you found that, uh, still just kinda make you laugh looking at? And they're just like, man, I just really love that word.

Daniel Klein (05:53):

Well, I love all the insults, uh, Yiddish has more insults and more words for losers than any language. I mean, they kind of fine tune that. It's looking at it to call somebody a loser that covers a lot of territory. They'd find done. I wrote down, you know, have you heard the word schlemiel, it's one of the many loser words. It's an insult. And another insult word is schlimazel, he's a real schlimazel. And so when you ask a real Yiddish speaker, what's the difference. And I'll read this to you "a Shlemiel is somebody who frequently spills his soup. And a schlimazel, is it the guy he spills it on"

Daniel Klein (06:54):

So that's the fine tuning. I love these insults. And one of my theories about why, um, why Yiddish, wherever it goes, it sticks. I'm going like an Amsterdam slang it's, you know, before the war, uh, Amsterdam was about 20% Jewish, which now it's 2%, but, uh, the slang has stuck and people don't even know where it's from. You walk out of your shop and somebody says to you mazel, he has no idea speaking Yiddish. It's just part of Amsterdam slang. And one thing about Jewish humor is that you make fun of yourself and you make fun of your own people. Very rare French, the never do that. The Germans, the Dutch never do that. Interestingly, the Scottish people do it. They have, they have loads of jokes and expressions. Apparently the stereotype of the Scots, I didn't know this is they're skinflints. They're always trying to get something for the cheapest price. That's also one about Jews, but they have a hundred jokes about, uh, themselves, uh, jokes about themselves. You don't find that in many languages, you'll find it in Yiddish all the time. And people will say, Oh, I'm such a schmuck. You know, say it about yourself. That's something a French person would never do. You know,

Shauna (08:28):

That's, uh, my, uh, grandma also is a German and, um, I have heard her, like, she would say stuff under her breath all the time. Like, and sometimes they were some of these Yiddish, you know, terms that, that I've read in, in your book here. And, and it was just interesting to kind of piece that together with what I would hear her say when I was a kid and she's kind of moving around the house and stuff. So it's very entertaining to make that connection.

Daniel Klein (08:53):

And I mean, the theory is, and again, well like you I'm skeptical of these theories is that it started as a secret language and then some generations, it was the, uh, you know, when, uh, Jews started to assimilate, it was language. The parents talked together so that the kids couldn't understand. So, it even retained that idea of being the secret language. Uh, but, uh, my father only spoke German and my mother knew Yiddish, but, uh, it was only when my grandmother visited. She was Polish from Poland and when she visited, they would speak. But, uh, so I didn't really have any exposure to it until I was, I was a comedy writer for about four or five years in New York. And that's when I, when I learned it in the comedy room where a lot of the, a lot of the comedy writers at that time, we're talking a long time ago, the early sixties, um, uh, these guys, uh, they hadn't gone to college. They'd been writing funny stuff since they were in high school and they didn't bother to go to college, you know? And, um, and, uh, they all knew Yiddish and they all said funny stuff. And yet, uh, it was a lot of fun for me. I had a ball quite frankly.

Dan (10:19):

So It kind of built a love of the language and the slangs of the language.

Daniel Klein (10:23):

Yes. Yeah. Another thing I like about a Yiddish have, you know, a writer, Roy Blount jr.

Dan (10:31):


Daniel Klein (10:31):

A Southern writer, and he's a friend of mine. He lives up here part of the year. And, um, he wrote a book that, um, he thinks that what's appealing about a lot of words is how they feel in the mouth. But he says, you know, certain words just feel good that, you know, the pucker and your tongue and clicks. I don't know. Uh, and I think Yiddish is one of them. I mean, you know, the word schmuck, it just feels good coming out of it

Dan (11:10):

As they say about wine. It has a good mouth feel.

Daniel Klein (11:12):

Yeah. Oh, is that right? Yeah. Yeah. And one thing on me now that I mentioned schmuck, for some reason in Yiddish, a lot of insults mean penis. You know, a schmuck literally means a penis.

Dan (11:28):

Oh, I did not know that. No, no.

Shauna (11:30):

Walk around saying that all the time and don't know what they are saying.

Daniel Klein (11:33):

No, when you don't know what it is, but you know why a penis should be, uh, an insult... But there are all these words that are named penis that are insults such as schmuck

Shauna (11:46):

Giving new insight now. On a similar topic to the mouth feel or the way the words feel in the mouth. I also, um, am I really love the way that some words describe themselves almost or, um, so the word crisp to me is like a crisp word.

Daniel Klein (12:04):

Oh, yes.

Shauna (12:04):

And then, and then another step beyond that is onomatopoeias and you touch on that a little bit. So, so tell us about that.

Daniel Klein (12:13):

Yes. Um, I, I, uh, the only one that I can think of just off hand in, uh, and, and Yiddish that is, I guess you'd call it onomatopoetic, and this is one that everybody in, uh, you know, uh, metropolis like New York has had a Yiddish influence said, and then something discussed and they go, "feh". (Sounds like feck, but as if you were spitting.)

Dan (12:42):

Oh, right. Yeah.

Daniel Klein (12:43):

I had one of those hot dogs, feh. And what "feh" is actually is a articulation of spitting.

Dan (12:52):

Right. That makes sense.

Daniel Klein (12:54):

"Feh". And that's what you, you know, we're just sort of naturally we do. Until we became civilized and, you know, and if somebody or something disgusted you, you didn't spit anymore. So you drew it back a little bit and you said "feh", which essentially it's spitting.

Dan (13:15):

Nice, interesting. I'd never thought of that.

Daniel Klein (13:18):

It sounded like a spit a little bit. Yeah. So anyhow, what I wanted to do in my book is, um, is to update, uh, uh, Yiddish for the modern world. I mean, it's here, but you can't use it for stuff, modern stuff like, like the kind of thing that you're into social media. And that's like, the title of the book is Schmegoogle. I made that up. A schmegoogle is somebody who is so insignificant that if you Google him, nothing comes up.

Shauna (13:57):

I love this word. It's perfect.

Daniel Klein (14:00):

And I'm hoping it becomes, you know, I mean, everybody's dreamed that a word they invent then becomes part of the language. So I thought of that one and I thought, Oh, geez. I wonder if I can think of anymore. And I sat down and I got stoned and I thought of a 200 of them.

Dan (14:16):


Shauna (14:16):

Very impressive.

Dan (14:19):

That that definitely adds to the, maybe one or two of them will stick. If you have a law of large numbers,

Daniel Klein (14:25):

I want 10!

Dan (14:30):

Well, having read the book, I can definitely say there are numerous ones in here that probably should stick around.

Shauna (14:36):

Yeah. So one of my favorites that, that you've got in there is, appschvitz.

Daniel Klein (14:41):


Shauna (14:43):

And I love that idea. I'm like, yeah, people like I've seen people throw their phones cause they were so frustrated that it wouldn't work the way they want

Daniel Klein (14:52):


Shauna (14:53):

Nice to have a word for that feeling.

Daniel Klein (14:56):

Um, and, and, and I liked the idea of the one cybershmooze, you know, you're probably familiar with the expression shmooze that has entered English.

Dan (15:08):


Daniel Klein (15:10):

And you know, and it's not exactly gossip. It's not exactly, uh, uh, chit chat. It's kind of friend. It has a friendliness to it. Ah, we schmoozed for a little while. And then we, uh, said goodbye, you know, it's kind of friendly. It's, it's a nuanced kind of talking together in a friendly way. Uh, and, um, and so now people do that as in a sense, we are doing now online. So I said, you needed to go to work for that cyberschmooze.

Dan (15:48):

I love this word because now we're still in the middle of a, of a pandemic. Uh, and so we can't go out and about in lots of places. And unfortunately where we live is kind of a hot spot at the moment. So instead of...

Daniel Klein (16:01):

Sorry to hear that.

Dan (16:01):

Yeah, well, you know, it is what it is I guess. But we, uh, we, instead of going and hanging out with our friends, we will do like a call like this, like on zoom or Skype or something. And, and so that's kind of what it's turned into where we're basically cybershmoozing, you know, with people now, instead of, instead of seeing them in person. So it's been it's, this is perfect timing for these words.

Daniel Klein (16:24):

Yes. Yeah, it is. And, um, uh, even my, my granddaughter who's eight. She, she has, she does cyberschmoozing with her buddies. It's just not quite the same, but they'll do like little dances for each other. That's part of the schmoozing.

Shauna (16:45):

I also like this, uh, the faceshtick, uh, that one, that one appeals to me. My, um, uh, you also talked about, uh, so schtick that, that idea of a funny story or routine or gimmick, um, and then you have another one in there that's, uh, that longer version of that. My dad is one of those who tells stories that are, that are jokes that take an hour, you know,

Daniel Klein (17:09):

Oh, I want to meet him. He's my kind of guy.

Dan (17:14):

He, I think he is, yes. Yeah.

Shauna (17:16):

It's so entertaining. And so then I saw, but I love this little kind of play on that too. The faceschtick of, of putting that on Facebook and, I love them.

Daniel Klein (17:26):

Yeah. That's great. The other thing is that you needed words for, um, uh, uh, marijuana. I'm in a state where it's very, it's legal and very popular. And, uh, a number of States around here have that. And so you need Yiddish words for that too. So I made those up and actually it's funny, some people have started to pick up, you know, the advanced copies (of the book, Schmegoogle) are going out and the, um, the, uh, I didn't know, they existed, but the marijuana sites love them.

Shauna (18:07):

I can see that. Is it "mushuga-nug", is that how that one's pronounced.

Daniel Klein (18:12):


Dan (18:14):

I love that with a kind of reefer madness. It's just crazy about marijuana.

Daniel Klein (18:19):


Dan (18:21):

It is still very illegal in Kansas.

Daniel Klein (18:26):


Dan (18:26):

Oklahoma and Missouri, which were both States that border us it's legal there. So it's only a matter of time.

Daniel Klein (18:33):

Yes, it is. It is. Before I had marijuana, I had, before I essentially had a drink, I had psilocybin, which is a psychedelic drug. And the reason for that as, and we'll see if you remember this, do you remember a guy named Timothy Leary?

Dan (18:55):


Daniel Klein (18:56):

He was the guru of psilocybin and then LSD. Well, he was at Harvard when I was an undergraduate there and he experimented on theology and, uh, philosophy majors. That would be me.

Daniel Klein (19:15):

So all I did before it was Shabbat wine and all of a sudden n'yah! Speaking of Harvard. Can I tell you that something about language that interested me? I took a course from a logician world, famous logician, very interesting guy to me. He also played jazz piano and I was devoted to him. Willard Van Orman Quine was his name was, and he would talk about, if you go to a culture, you know, a primitive culture where it has a natural language and by natural language, he meant a language that was totally unrelated to any other language.

Daniel Klein (20:02):

You know, like English comes from Anglosaxon and German and all kinds of things. No, they have a language that is, that is unique and uninfluenced by any other language. And so you're trying to learn how to translate it into your language. Your language is English. And he says, so you're walking around with a native and a rabbit runs by and he points at it and he says, gavagi. So you write down in your notebook. Their word for rabbit is gavagi. And Quine says, "you don't know that".

Daniel Klein (20:49):

Because you don't know the way they construct the world, you don't know their entire yenevelt nashama. We're all, you know what he is saying is Look, all the different parts of a rabbit connected together now.

Shauna (21:06):

Oh yeah.

Daniel Klein (21:06):

He said,, because that's the way they may view the world. Things are in parts. He had other alternatives, things that could have something to do with the way they see time that, um, a rabbit now is what they mean. Not that it's a rabbit, there was a rabbit before and there will be a rabbit later. Um, it just depends on how they construct their universe and they are in their universe. Um, I found that stuff. Fascinating.

Shauna (21:45):

Yeah. That's an incredible, it's like that, you know, this, there is this idea, like the way that we communicate is very, it's contextual. It requires, you know, common understanding of what context it's in and, um, yeah, that would, that's, that's definitely something that would be really, really interesting to, to learn about and to kind of, I don't know, that's, that's just kind of blowing my mind with that one.

Daniel Klein (22:10):

Well, no, you guys are, I'm so happy that young people are interested in this. So the name of his book, and I imagine it's still a print is "word and object" And it's old. I bet it's still in print because it was kind of a classic of, of, of how we go from one culture to another and see if we possibly can possibly translate or maybe not. Right. That blew my mind. I must say.

Dan (22:42):

That is that's fascinating because, uh, idiomatic expressions, uh, match that same kind of a concept where you don't necessarily know where it's coming from. So it's easy to say like, Oh, you know, he's a sheet to the wind, meaning he's, he's drunk. Uh, and then we don't really know that context. And if you're not a nautical person, then you might look at that and say, Oh, a sheet that's probably the sail, right. Well, no, it's actually one of the ropes it's attacking the sheet or the, or the two ropes.

Daniel Klein (23:08):

I didn't know that!

Dan (23:08):

Yeah. It's not even, it's not even the sail. It's the, it's one of the ropes that, that doesn't, that gets tightened or not. I like that. So it's fascinating because, you know, if you don't, if you don't understand that or understand, you know, the context of what they're saying, then a sheet, you know, a sheet to the wind or a sheet in the wind, you have no idea what that would mean at all. If you're not a native speaker or understand the context.

Shauna (23:33):

I think those differences like between that, of having that knowledge of knowledge base of, of the understanding of the concept itself, but then also just over time generationally, um, you know, those concepts change. And so that is, is also kind of plays into it. How much of our language is determined by our culture and our society and our use of it and how much of our, uh, and then the reverse of that, how much of our language actually influences our culture and, and, you know, understanding of one another and, and everything.

Daniel Klein (24:05):

Yes. That, that interests me a lot. And, you know, what's kind of interesting. Uh, so I I've, you know, I'm an old guy and I've been married twice as long as, as you are, but we're always speaking, uh, a language that is, uh, it's actually a her third language. Her first language was Dutch and then, uh, uh, German and then was English. But I mean, she's lived here a long time, but we're always talking, you know, our English is like a college graduate, so American college, but, but they're always sometimes nuances. And we sometimes say, that's the secret to our marriage. We really don't understand each other <laughter>

Shauna (24:55):

Still more to learn about each other. That's what that is

Daniel Klein (24:57):

Yeah. Yeah. And also because it is a worldview, even though it's a close a Dutch it's closely related to English, uh, the German connection, but, um, but you know, they parceled the world out in different things and it's much more influenced by, um, um, Calvinism.

Dan (25:15):


Daniel Klein (25:20):

Yeah. Then, then certainly then by Judaism and, uh, uh, and the values you put on thing. And, um, and the, the Dutch, it's very funny because they're accused of being blunt. That's part of their stereotype, you know, but, uh, you know, you never go away thinking, what did they really mean that cause, cause they really said it and yet they're also very discreet, you know, at the same time, you know, if you tell them a secret, they will not share it.

Daniel Klein (25:55):

I mean, these are big generalizations, but that in itself is an ethic, which I must say, I'm very attracted to it. I like it because I, you know, you can't trust me at all. <laughter> Never could.

Shauna (26:10):

I kind of wanted to ask if you have a favorite of your new, new words that you've created here, is there one that kind of is just at the top?

Daniel Klein (26:18):

Have you ever heard the expression farklempt?

Shauna (26:22):

Yes. Yes.

Daniel Klein (26:23):

And that's somebody, you know, I'm so I'm so choked up that I can't, I'm so farklempt. I can't tell you how much I love you. You know, so I have something called farklempt disorder, you know, and that's somebody who can, I, who cannot express their feelings because they have excess emotion. So I turned farklempt into a, uh, a DSM disease. I don't think it's a disease.

Dan (26:59):

Sure, sure.

Daniel Klein (27:02):

Tsurits syndrome, tsuris means, boy do I have problems? Uh, uh, you know, my daughter ran off with a milkman, Oh, such tsuris I had. Uh, and, and I liked that word tsuris. And also that's one that feels good in the mouth that Ts we don't have that many languages. Greek has it. TS and TZ, it's a, it's a, it's a letter in the Hebrew alphabet at TZ. And, and, uh, you don't have that in English. Uh, the Greek has that for some reason and it feels good "ts". It's a separate sound. And so somebody would with tsurits disorder is somebody who shouts out, whatever bothered them, or bothers them. That would be me! <Laughter?

Dan (28:01):

My, uh, my grandmother, God rest her soul, was a bit of a hypochondriac. And she always, she always joked that, uh, that she was going to put on her gravestone, "I told you so"

Daniel Klein (28:16):

I like that!

Dan (28:17):

At least she laughed at it. She knew she was,

Daniel Klein (28:20):

And that's it.

Dan (28:22):

Whatever was going wrong with her. She would say, I'm having chest pains. I bet I'm having a heart attack,

Daniel Klein (28:28):

But that's part of it. She was making fun of herself. I like cultures that do that. Um, Oh, you know what, I went to a high school that had a pretty good population, you know, just back, you know, and your parents time in the fifties and, uh, maybe what 25% African American population, they tended to hang together and they had, they hung together at the lunch room, but sometimes I got to sit with them. And they had jokes about themselves and about being Black. And this was, you know, we're talking 60 years ago, I just was on the floor.. I was just on the floor. And, um, so I found that there were some commonalities between Jewish humor and Black humor, and I was able to use it quite recently. I live in a town now that it used to have a pretty big, um, uh, African American population, because it was where all over Pullman operate, uh, what are they called? Pullman stewards or whatever they were, it's where they live, because it was halfway between New York and Canada. So they settled here and they started a church here. And, uh, and then, uh, they had, uh, some kind of a fight. And so some broke off and they started the Macedonian church, the breakaway group down the thing. So I went to these, I have a friend who belongs to this church and they were talking about, uh, Dubois, w E B Dubois, who's from this town.

Daniel Klein (30:22):

Uh, and I had some, some interest in, and I said, you know, how come, you're not, there's not that many of you left because the Pullman operator thing stopped after a while. Uh, and, uh, and you still have, uh, two churches. And they said, Oh, well, you know, this guy and the other guy's wife. And so it was a whole story. So I told them this old, um, this old Yiddish joke, and that's about this Jew gets shippedwrecked And he ends up on an Island and he's on this Island for years and years and years. And finally somebody in the British Navy who drives by the Island and they see this guy waving, and he's got a beard down to his knees and he just rags and they come up to him and, and, and they say, Oh God, how long you've been here? So I don't know, 40 years, they looked behind him and on the strand are two bamboo edifices. And he says, well, what are those? He says, those are the synagogues. I built them myself. He said, you got two synagogues. She says, what do you need? Two synagogues. You're the only guy on the Island. He says, you see, that's the one I don't go to. <laughter>

Daniel Klein (31:45):

So I, so I told this at the Zion church, they were on the floor. It was just a perfect parallel. And they knew that kind of joke. They knew that. So there are some parallels there looking at American humor, where does it come from from Blacks and Jews.That's it. And then I started writing comedy. They had black comedians, but no, uh, black writers, not yet on any, I mean, people would write their own material. So I got hired because I knew from a high school, I knew how to, uh, you know, sometimes I just take a Yiddish joke and turn it into a Black joke. And, um, and they, they were happy. They know.

Dan (32:34):

It's amazing to similarities between some of the cultures.

Daniel Klein (32:36):

Yes, yes. And some of knew them. I don't know whether you are old enough to remember a guy named Flip Wilson.

Dan (32:43):

Yeah. Yeah. My grandpa was a big fan of Flip Wilson.

Daniel Klein (32:46):

Oh yeah. Well, he was the best employer I ever had, who was so generous and so sweet. Uh, and he was so naughty. Um, and, uh, he knew more Yiddish than I did.

Dan (32:59):

Oh, wow.

New Speaker (33:01):

Yeah, I think he'd grown up in Chicago and, uh, he was still naturally funny. He woke up in the morning, funny cause we were on the road and we'd have breakfast and he'd be funny at breakfast, you know,

Dan (33:14):

Where do you see a language like the Yiddish language... I imagine it will continue to permeate into, uh, other types of speech. I imagine it will stick around, uh, because of that, it's, it has had long lasting staying power. Uh, so how do you foresee Yiddish to continue moving forward with some of these, these new words? And then also, um, you know, some of the existing words?

Daniel Klein (33:40):

Yes. I think, uh, I think I'm making my contribution. I think Schmegoogle, I think some of them will, will stick because, you know, old Yiddish to know about social media, bisexuality, smoking pot, uh, um, Oh, and then the big category is intermarriage. I mean, you know, at this point, uh, my wife and I once wrote a book called The Half Jewish book because there are now under the age of 16 in America, there are more half Jews than full Jews. Uh, and so you need, you need words for that and you need words for the in-laws. And, uh, uh, like I made up the word bisselbubbe. A bisselbubbe, it's somebody, you know, was your grandmother, but just a little bit, because she's really not Jewish. <laughter>

Daniel Klein (34:37):

And so you need words like that, but some of them, a lot of the words about mixed, came spontaneous. I didn't make them up. And my favorite because it is so clever is there is a, I guess it's big enough to be called a city on Long Island, New York. And it's called Massapequa, which I assume is an indigenous name, but for a long time, it had to kind of co-equal populations. And that is Italians and Jews, immigrants. And inevitably they fall in love with each other and made babies together.

Dan (35:16):

As people do.

Daniel Klein (35:16):

I guess that happens. I don't know how it's still a mystery to me. It's something to do with atoms, I think probably. Um, so then they'd have these half Italian, half Jewish kids, which are a good part of the school system and you know what they called them. Then they invented this themselves. I mean, there's some brilliant person, Matzah-pizzas. Oh, are you a matzah-pizza also? Me too! And it has the added super delight of sounding like Massapequa. The name of the town itself. And so when I heard that, I added to that. They were there already from some very clever people, you know, and that's of course what you guys love, the most words that organically, you just need a word for somebody who's half Catholic and half jewish. It happens all the time in the 1920s in New York. Uh, there was even a show in your grandfather's day called Abie's Irish Rose about a Jew brings home an Irish girl and all the tumult. Which is a Yiddish word that has slipped into English. Uh let's um, that, uh, resulted. Yeah. There are all kinds of Yiddish words to slip in and to, into English. And people don't even know that, like, glitch.

Shauna (37:00):

I love that tumult is a good word, too.

Daniel Klein (37:00):

You know, the technology you say, Oh, we got a glitch here. Nobody knows it's Yiddish. It's just become part of the English slang and schlep. But I looked up, it's sort of fun to look up the New York times or all the major newspapers have what they called, style books, books that tell you what words you're allowed to use in an article in which not just naughty words, but you know, they aren't English or something. Schlep is now in it. So I had to schlep my suitcase all over the city, you know, and that's English, according to the New York times, you can put it into an article and not have to translate it.

Dan (37:50):

It's a, it's amazing to me that like the future, I think of language is in the melding of, uh, some of the strongest or the most used, uh, languages and the, the parts of each of these languages. Of course, I don't want to lose any, uh, specific language. I think that preserving, uh, the spoken word and, uh, languages that are not as commonly spoken now is very important. Uh, but I do think that, you know, the longer we go, the more we're going to see the intermixing of languages into, uh, something that's almost like what English is now a commonly spoken business language or a commonly spoken "common" language.

Daniel Klein (38:31):

Yes. I think you're right. And I'd find that because, or maybe it's my age a little bit, but like, uh, the, son of a friend of mine has, uh, gone into business. Business, feh. <Laughter> And, uh, occasionally he's on YouTube giving a talk. I don't understand a word of it. I don't, I don't know the vocabulary of business.

Dan (39:00):

Right. It has its own jargon.

Daniel Klein (39:04):

It has his own jargon. And I think it means something. I don't think they're just buzzwords. I think they actually mean something, but business never interested me.

Dan (39:14):

Well, comedy seems to have served you just fine.

Daniel Klein (39:17):

Yes, it is. It is.

Dan (39:20):

Danny. Thank you for joining us today and talking about your book and the, and the future of, of languages. Um, we greatly appreciate your time.

Daniel Klein (39:28):

Yes. There's a lot of fun. I love what you're doing very much. I'm glad that that interest is going on.

Shauna (39:35):

Schmegoogle, Yiddish words for modern times comes out September 1st and is available for preorder now. We recommend your local, independent bookstore, but you can also find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or pretty much anywhere you get your books.

Dan (39:51):

Thanks again for joining us. We'll talk to you again next week. And until then, remember

Together (39:55):

Words belong to their users.


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