Daily Digest of Public Opinion on Jewis Matters
Menu JTA Search

Daily Digest of Public Opinion on Jewis Matters

Download PDF for this date

[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to us: readers, Quotation does not indicate approval-Editor,]

“Yidgin English,” analogous to Pidgin English, is the term invented by Alter Brody to describe the dialect which is used by many American Jewish writers in their novels and stories dealing with Jewish characters.

Writing in the “American Mercury” for February, Mr. Brody defines “Yidgin English” as follows: “Its basis is theoretically Yiddish; in form it is ostensibly a translation of Yiddish into English. Actually, it is a purely imaginary language, logically related to neither of its parents.”

Citing passages from Anzia Yezierska, Bruno Lessing, David Freedman, Montagu Glass, Fannie Hurst, and Myra Kelly, the writer observes:

“The average purveyor of it (Yidgin), brought up from his school days to look down on Yiddish as the language of his unschooled parets, gets the same satisfaction in using it in his English that a small boy gets in repeating half-understood indecencies. And the American public finds anything that is not American either irresistibly comic or profoundly pathetic. We do not think it comical that a Frenchman should speak French, but we have yet to learn that there is nothing comic in Jews because they happen to be expressing themselves in Yiddish.

“Yiddish is too rich a language to be exploited superficially,” Mr. Brody contends. “In an age of standardized speech, it is emotionally fluid– a dramatic mine unequalled since Synge discovered Irish. But it is not an English dialect like Synge’s Irish. It is an autonomous language. It is a Middle German dialect, which the German Jews adopted in the Middle Ages, and which their tongues moulded to their own peculiar rhythms. It has its own peculiar imagery, differentiating it from German more than its accent or grammar, and it is this that one must capture if one is to transplant it into English. There is no reason why it should be foreign to the genius of English, any more than the Hebrew of the Old Testament.”


“The Jews of Eastern Europe,” (Thomas Seltzer) by Dr. Arnold D. Margolin, one of the counsel for defense in the famous Beilis case in Russia and former minister in the Ukrainian cabinet before the Bolshevist revolution, has aroused considerable interest.

The book, which deals with various phases of Jewish life in what was formerly the Russian Empire, is declared by John Spargo to be “a notable contribution to the literature of liberal democracy. One of the most effective blows ever struck at the hideous evil of that hateful form of reaction which for lack of a better term the world calls anti-Semitism.”

Dr. A. Coralnik, editorial writer of the “Day,” feels that Dr. Margolin’s book is “a calm. detached and penetrating survey of the Jewish situation in Eastern Europe, its background and perspectives.”

To Jacob Fishman, managing editor of the “Jewish Morning Journal” the volume has been “an eye-opener, clarifying as it does many complicated phases of the Jewish situation in Eastern Europe.”

“A very valuable contribution to the meagre literature on the present condition of the Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe,” says B. C. Vladeck, managing editor of the “Jewish Daily Forward,” while James W. Gerard, former Ambassador to Germany, is of the opinion that “everyone concerned with the future of our country must read this book, which in itself is absorbing and opens for us a new and most interesting chapter of the history of our own Era.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund