Yiddish and the Italian Welsh

Daffy-down-dilly has been and fled / Her yellow-green gown all stained in red. Featuring Google Translate’s transliteration service for unfamiliar scripts.

Napoleon meets a Welshman (1810-5). Dad's granny's granny used to recount seeing the Welsh march away to fight at Waterloo.

Napoleon meets a Welshman (1810-5). Dad's granny's granny used to recount seeing the Welsh march away to fight at Waterloo. Image: Digital Bodleian.

Here’s the Yiddish original of an Abridger’s Confession quoted (and translated) by A.Z. Foreman:

דש דוזיג בוך אין וועלשן שפרוך
דש שרייבט גאר לאנג אין אלן עקן
איך וויל אים ניט מין שרייבן נוך
וויל אויביריגי ווארט לוש איך נוך שטעקן
זוישט וואורד מיר מיין בויכֿלן צו הוך
אונ׳ דיא צייט וואורד מיך דרצו ניט קלעקן
דרום ווער עז הוט גילייט בֿור אך אין וועלשן
מאיין ניט דש איך עש דעהרום וויל ועלשן

I was interested in the literal original and the translation process, but I can’t read Hebrew. here‘s the Google Translation:

Flap doozy book in which entitlement
Flap writing extremely long in aln ends
I wish him no kind writing nukh
Wants aoybirigi word Lush I nukh staff
Cleaner wards me my boykhln to hukh
And Dia times wards me moreover not suffice
South who EZ hat gileyt majority but in which
My not flap I Esche dehrum wants uelshn

A case of madness beating method. But anyone who knows a bit of German should be able to understand Google Translate’s transliteration:

dsh duzig bukh in velshn shfrukh
dsh shreybt gar lang in aln ekn
ikh vil im nit min shreybn nukh
vil aoybirigi vart lush ikh nukh shtekn
zoysht vaurd mir meyn boykhln tsu hukh
aun’ dya tseyt vaurd mikh drtsu nit klekn
drum ver ez hut gileyt vur akh in velshn
meyn nit dsh ikh esh dehrum vil uelshn

One curiosity: Foreman translates velshn/uelshen as “Italian” in line with historical linguistic theory:

*Walhaz … is a reconstructed Proto-Germanic word, meaning “foreigner”, “stranger”, “Roman”, “Romance-speaker”, or “Celtic-speaker”. The term was used by the ancient Germanic peoples to describe inhabitants of the former Western Roman Empire, who were largely romanised and spoke Latin or Celtic languages. The adjectival form is attested in Old Norse valskr, meaning “French”, Old High German walhiskbarrick, meaning “Romance”, Modern German welsch, used in Switzerland and South Tyrol for Romance-speakers, Dutch Waals “Walloon”, Old English welisċ, wælisċ, wilisċ, meaning “Romano-British”, and Modern English Welsh.

However, it is common knowledge here in Bala, Gwynedd, Wales that all other incomprehensible tongues in fact spring from Welsh, in which tongue proto-Calvinistic Methodist dogma was being preached long before the Shemites shtarted shquabbling, and whose speakers have dominated European government for centuries by the subtle use of leeks. A fearsome language and a fearful people, of whose death-dealing daffy-down-dilly Robert Herrick (1591-1674) wrote:

When a daffodil I see,
Hanging down his head towards me,
Guess I may what I must be:
First, I shall decline my head;
Secondly, I shall be dead;
Lastly, safely burièd.

The Welsh appear in a notorious poem by Ernst Arndt (1769-1860), which on a particularly slow day Mr Foreman might translate as follows:

That is the German fatherland,
Where foreign junk is fiercely banned,
Where every Frenchman is condemned,
Where every German is your friend.
So shall it be! so shall it be!
So shall be all of Germany!

[
Das ist des Deutschen Vaterland,
Wo Zorn vertilgt den welschen Tand,
Wo jeder Franzmann heißet Feind,
Wo jeder Deutsche heißet Freund.
Das soll es sein! das soll es sein!
Das ganze Deutschland soll es sein!
]

But this, pace Bala, is actually about the Welsh, not foreigners in general. A precocious talent, Arndt is recalling his attendance, at the age of 18 months, at Cardiff City’s best ever showing in European competition: the second leg of its 3-4 aggregate loss against Hamburger SV in the semi-finals of the 1768 Cup Winners’ Cup:

Why not simply learn Hebrew script? Because I have discovered from overheard conversations in Yiddish that the Stamford Hill Haredim are less interested in world domination than in what’s for tea, so the chance of Hebrew script becoming more widely used and useful seems unacceptably small.


Conversation

  1. A transcription with a rough idea of hypothetical early western Yiddish sound values

    Dos dōzig bukh in velshn shprōkh,
    Dos shraybt gar lang in aln ekn.
    Ikh vil em nit men shraybn nōkh;
    vil übrige vort lōs ikh nun shtekn.
    Züst vurd mir mayn bükhlen tsu hōkh,
    un di tsayt vurd mikh dortsu nit klekn.
    Drum ver es hōt geleyt voran in velshn
    Mayn nit, dos ikh es dōherum vil felshn.

    1. Thank you! For me the revelation has been like suddenly realising that the cloud one is about to lurch into on an early morning mountain is in fact a common-or-garden sheep.

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