No, not the composer; my title is the Yiddish name of Odessa (pronounced ah-DES). Reading a bad translation of Bunin’s Civil War diary has annoyed me but also gotten me interested in Odessa, and my newfound access to JSTOR (achieved by getting an electronic Boston Public Library card, which any resident of Massachusetts can do) has given me lots of reading material. I just found Robert A. Rothstein’s article “How It Was Sung in Odessa: At the Intersection of Russian and Yiddish Folk Culture” (Slavic Review, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Winter, 2001), pp. 781-801), which has a discussion of the local varieties of both Russian and Yiddish, and I thought I’d pass along some of the details.
Rothstein quotes an 1895 book by Vlas Doroshevich called Odessa, odessity i odessitki [‘Odessa and Odessans’] that describes the speech of the city as a “language salad” (vinegret iz yazyka), mentioning a number of distinctive features, some of which have pretty well disappeared (like the use of “monsieur” and “madame” as general forms of address) while others are still going strong, like the use of the preposition za ‘behind; after; for (etc.)’ to mean ‘about, concerning,’ “as in a line from the Soviet popular song most associated with Odessa”: “Ya vam ne skazhu za vsyu Odessu” ‘I won’t tell you about all of Odessa.’ This is due to Ukrainian influence, but other features are due to Yiddish, including many lexical borrowings:
One Odessa way of saying “leave me alone” is ne dreite me kop, a Russianization of Yiddish dreyt mir nisht dem kop, literally, “don’t spin my head.” The vocabulary of Odessa Russian includes such Yiddishisms as gesheft (business), mansa or maisa ([far-fetched] story], shabes-goi (errand-boy), golyi gurnisht (a nothing [literally, “a naked nothing”]), and bikitser (make it quick). The Yiddish word purits (or porets) (landowner, aristocrat) is used in the expression velikii purits (an important person)…
There are also examples of intonation (Ya znayu, literally ‘I know,’ said in an interrogative way to mean “How should I know?”—cf. Yiddish ikh veis?) and phraseology (saying goodbye with bud’te mne zdorovy, literally ‘be well for me,’ instead of the usual bud’te zdorovy, on the model of Yiddish zayt mir gezunt). Chtob ya tak zhil, a translation of Yiddish zol ikh azoy leben ‘so I should live,’ is used to emphasize one’s truthfulness. And the answer to the common tourist question “How do I get to Deribasovskaya Street?” (the main shopping street of Odessa) may well be either A zachem vam Deribasovskaya? ‘And what do you need Deribasovskaya for?’ or Idite pryamo, ona sama vas peresechet ‘Go straight, it will intersect you itself,’ of which he says “one can… feel the influence without any explicit Jewish presence.”
He then discusses Odessa Yiddish, which is “unlike the Yiddish of Warsaw or Vilna. In fact, the Great Dictionary of the Yiddish Language has an entry for adeser yidish, which it explains as ‘full of Russian words.'” He quotes a number of Yiddish songs, one of which rhymes Ades with progres ‘progress’ and another of which refers to Odessa-mame/ a shayne panorama ‘Odessa-mama, a beautiful panorama.’
There’s a lot more (the article is 21 pages), and it makes me very glad to have access to the trove of JSTOR.