In His Yiddishe Fingers

I can’t imagine there are a lot of regular readers of this blog who speak yiddish, but it’s a lovely language, full of colour and personality. Now, I don’t speak the language, but I’ve certainly encountered some words and expressions over the years. A good book, for those of you who would like to discover the beauty of the language is “Born to Kvetch”. If you’re looking for it, it’s got a great picture on the cover, and I while I might not normally do so, I completely judged this book by it’s cover(Bo Diddley is probably mad at me now. He was pretty emphatic when he stated that “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Well you know what, Mr. Diddley, it was a good book, and it paid off! So there. Neener-neener)

booksOf all the wise, sad, and funny expressions in the entire language, I’ve always held a special place for the expression for “toes”.

“Toes?! What could possibly be so special about toes?”

Well, because it’s “finger fun fus”, and even if you don’t speak Yiddish, you should be able to figure that one out. Yes, it gets translated as “finger of the foot”. Fun, eh?

So last night at supper, Tevye was trying to describe that he was having some sort of issue with one of his knuckles. He wasn’t referring to the knuckles that join his fingers to his hands, but rather, one of the ones further down his finger(now that I’m trying to describe this to you, it’s making me realize that our language is just as ridiculous as Yiddish, but with less tremendous expressions). I don’t remember if it hurt, or smelled funny, or had a trout growing out of it, but he described it in a way that I’ll never forget.

“My finger knee”

We were trying to take his concern seriously, but he said “finger knee”, and we were focusing really hard on not laughing.

Eventually we’ll tell him that they’re called “knuckles”, but for now I think we’ll all just enjoy this.

*There’s a great song called “The Yiddisha Professor”, which is where the title came from. I was trying to find it online so I could post the link, but I was unable to do so. I believe it might be on Spotify, if you’re able to use it.

6 Responses to “In His Yiddishe Fingers”
  1. ScorpionGlow says:

    I know enough to get by, and it’s odd for me not to use it in my daily vernacular. My brother and I will use it when we’re in public if we don’t want anyone knowing what we’re discussing.

    I do have that book, but I’ve never gotten around to reading it. If I did, I don’t remember it, so I will have to crack it open sometime soon. Good post.

    • I wish I was able to hold a conversation with someone in Yiddish, but alas, I cannot.

      It really is a fun book. There is a second one, as well, though I don’t remember what it’s called

      • ScorpionGlow says:

        I am trying to use it so it doesn’t die out within my family. I definitely want to pass it down to the next generation.

        I’ll have to look up the second book on Goodreads. It’ll be nice to have that on my reading list for this year.

      • I had to find out what the second book was(it’s been nagging at me all weekend. Turns out it’s called “Just Say Nu”, and is just as delightful as the first book.

        I would love to learn, but without a Yiddish-speaking community in which to use the language, it is very difficult to retain any knowledge.

  2. RobotDancing says:

    I love finger knee! My son was complaining one night about his pyjama trousers being wrinkly, and he came up with “leg sleeves.” Kids are so clever. 🙂

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