Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 17:18:15 -0500


Subject: yid

Allen Maberry writes,

Turning to our trusty "Joys of Yiddish" by Leo Rosten, whether the term

"yid" (m.sing.)is offensive or not depends upon its pronunciation. If it

is pronounced so as to rhyme with "deed", it is neutral; if it is

pronounced to rhyme "did" it is offensive, since that is the way it would

be pronounced by non-Jews. The f.sing. form "yidene" is always offensive.

"Yid" itself is cognate with the German "Jude" and means literally "a

Jew". So far Rosten, however it would be interesting, to me at least, how

current Yiddish speakers perceive the word.

I'm not sure I agree - and have reservations in any case about

using Rosten's book by itself. "Yid" - in the Yiddish-speaking circles

I'm familiar with, at any rate - is often pronounced to rhyme with "did,"

and not for any pejorative purpose. "Yidene" is sometimes pejorative in

purpose, but is also used by Yiddish writers, and not always pejoratively.

Best, Larry Rosenwald