Date: Mon, 13 Jan 1997 19:09:58 -0500
From: Jules Levin jflevin[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UCRAC1.UCR.EDU
Subject: More Hebonics
First, re the first usage of "Hebonics"; I heard it very early on after the
controversy started, on the Dennis Prager radio show, where the host said
something like, "What Chutzpa, as we say in Hebonics..." But I'm not sure
if he or a caller first used it.
Whether it is the appropriate name misses the point; after all, Ebonics is
awful from the standpoint of language name creation--at least it should be
"Ebonic". So a good parody should try to reproduce the slightly "off" tone
of the original word.
What's interesting about the vocabulary of Hebonics is not that this or that
word is Yiddish or Hebrew, but like the vocabulary of Ebonics, which is
mostly independent of African lexicon, building on American English roots,
its vocabulary is often peculiarly *American*, unrecognizable to a real East
European Yiddish speaker. Two quick examples:
the word "derma" for "kishke" is a pseudo-Anglicism. It pretends to be an
English translation of the latter, but in fact is known ONLY by
practitioners of Hebonics or regular visiters at old-fashioned Jewish style
delis; second example: affair... In Hebonics, an affair in a hotel is
something attended by 500 people, not something done discretely that only
two people are supposed to know about.
Any Gentile can master the typical germano-hebraic vocabulary; the true
native speaker knows all the subtle NON-germano-hebraic elements.
And finally, the stylistically preferred response to the question,
"How are you?" is not "How should I be...?" but rather
"I can't complain..." (When you are in robust health....)
At the request of Susan Ervin-Tripp, the linguistic anthropologist Jim
Wilce has created a web site for postings (including newspaper material) on
Ebonics. The temporary site URL is http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~jmw22/ which
links to linganthnet archives (linguistic anthropology list archives). If
you want your postings on the topE