Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jewbonics-A Primer...

I have always found language interesting. Not so much different languages, but the variations within one language. For example, if you ask someone in California what they call a sweetened carbonated beverage, they would say "Soda". Ask the same question in the mid-west and they'll say "Pop". Upstate New York, they'll call it "Soda Pop". A small area around Boston will call it a "Tonic". Anywhere around Atlanta will call it a "Coke"-regardless of flavor, Coke-Coke, Sprite-Coke, Orange-Coke...whatever. There's many more of these and if you're interested in learning more, check out this page. It's a great collection of regional pronunciations and names for things.

This brings us to today's topic:

Jewbonics- A Primer.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with Ebonics, the name for inner city slang primarily spoken by African Americans. Jewbonics is a similar phenomenon. While several Jewish words have become fairly ubiquitous in the English language, (Schmuck, Putz, Schlep and name a few) Jewbonics isn't just about the words, it's much more than that. Jewbonics deals more with sentence structure, strategic placement of words, tone...and of course, passive-aggressive guilt. Let me explain...

We'll start with sentence structure. Jewbonics is actually kind of similar to how Yoda speaks from Star Wars. "Strong, with him, the force is." is a great example. Here's how it works with Jewbonics.

Example 1: Describing a girl.

Normal- "She is a smart and nice girl."

Jewbonics- "Such a nice girl she is...and smart too!"

Now let's move on to word placement, tone and the passive aggressive guilt.

Take the word "Maybe". On its own, it's perfectly harmless. "Are you going to the Party?" "Maybe." However, "Maybe" is one of the most cruicial words needed to Jewbonify a sentence.

Example 2: Your mother would like you to take out the garbage.

Normal- "Can you take out the Garbage?"

Jewbonified- "I thought maybe, you could take out the garbage?"

Notice what's happened here. The word "maybe" has been stuck right in the middle of the sentence. By doing this, it's almost as if the asker has challenged your ability to take out the garbage. Also, technically this is a statement. But, when delivered, the word "garbage" finishes with a higher tone (along with a raising of the eyebrows) making it a question. Go ahead, try it. You'll be amazed at how Jewish you sound. Also, by saying maybe, it adds the all important guilt. It's subtley saying "after all I do for you, how could you not do me this one small favor". It's really quite brilliant.

Another crucial word in Jewbonics is "Should". It's plays a similar role to "Maybe" by adding that sense of doubt...and of course guilt.

Example 3: A father comes home late from work to find that his family has eaten without him.

Normal- "I'm upset that you ate without me."

Jewbonics- "All day I work hard to put food on this table...And for this, I should eat a cold dinner?"

Notice there are a lot of the same themes; sentence structure, making a statement a question, the word dinner, (and the word I) of course would be spoken with a higher tone and raised eyebrows, etc. You can see why the word "should" is important. It's similar to the use of the word "maybe" in the previous example, but in this case, there is no doubt. He won't "maybe" have a cold dinner, he knows he will. Therefore, "should" is the appropriate word to use here, as he is challenging the reason why he is having a cold dinner, not if.

Finally, we'll discuss a more complicated example. This involves some of the strategies from above but adds the classic Jewbonic exaggeration.

Example 4: A child is treating her mother disrespectfully.

Normal- "That's not an appropriate way to speak to your mother."

Jewbonics- "9 Months I spent throwing up 4 times a day, and I should be treated like this? I thought just once you could show maybe a little respect?"

See how it all comes together?

So there it is, your first primer on how to speak Jewbonics.

After I spent so much time writing this post, I thought since you're already at your computer, you could maybe leave a comment? And would it kill you to click an ad once in a while?