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I disagree with people. What am I, a "Yes person"?

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 17, 2007


The New York City Public Schools have officially declared Jewish English, now dubbed Hebonics, as a second language. Backers of the move say the city schools are the first in the nation to recognize Hebonics as a valid language and a significant attribute of American culture. According to Howard Ashland, linguistics professor at Brooklyn College and renowned Hebonics scholar, the sentence structure of Hebonics derives from middle and eastern European language patterns, as well as Yiddish.Professor Shulman explains, “In Hebonics, the response to any question is usually another question with a complaint that is either implied or stated. Thus ‘How are you?’ may be answered, ‘How should I be, with my bad feet?’ Shulman says that Hebonics is a superb linguistic vehicle for expressing sarcasm or skepticism. An example is the repetition of a word with “sh” or “shm” at the beginning: “Mountains, shmountains. Stay away. You should want a nosebleed?”

Another Hebonics pattern is moving the subject of a sentence to the end, with its pronoun at the beginning: “It’s beautiful, that dress.”

Shulman says one also sees the Hebonics verb moved to the end of the sentence. Thus the response to a remark such as “He’s slow as a turtle,” could be: “Turtle, shmurtle! Like a fly in Vaseline he walks.”

Shulman provided the following examples from his best-selling textbook, Switched-On Hebonics:

Questin: “What time is it?”
English answer: “Sorry, I don’t know.”
Hebonic response: “What am I, a clock?”

Remark: “I hope things turn out okay.”
English answer: “Thanks.”
Hebonic response: “I should be so lucky!”

Remark: “Hurry up. Dinner’s ready.”
English answer: “Be right there.”
Hebonic response: “Alright already, I’m coming. What’s with the ‘hurry’ business? Is there a fire?”

Remark: “I like the tie you gave me; I wear it all the time.”
English answer: “Glad you like it.”
Hebonic response: “So what’s the matter; you don’t like the other ties I gave you?”

Remark: “Sarah and I are engaged.”
English answer: “Congratulations!”
Hebonic response: “She could stand to lose a few pounds.”

Question: “Would you like to go riding with us?”
English answer: “Just say when.”
Hebonic response: “Riding, shmiding! Do I look like a cowboy?”

To the guest of honor at a birthday party:
English answer: “Happy birthday.”
Hebonic response: “A year smarter you should become.”

Remark: “A beautiful day.”
English answer: “Sure is.”
Hebonic response: “So the sun is out; what else is new?”

Answering a phone call from a son:
English answer: “It’s been a while since you called.”
Hebonic response: “You didn’t wonder if I’m dead already?”

Sarcasm…so funny and so harmful.

So I disagree with people a lot – big deal – get over it! We weren’t born to agree – in fact as Jew I have no trouble disagreeing with myself several times in the same sentence, nor holding several opposing opinions at once – so why would it be such a big deal that I disagree with others, Nu?
When I want to agree with people I’ll let them know. Now, go away and pick your nose somewhere else!


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