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....)

Jules Levin

from HEL.

Wayne Glowka

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 which

links to linganthnet archives (linguistic anthropology list archives). If

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