Philologos at the Forward has a review of what sounds like an interesting book, Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press, 2012), by the sociolinguist Sarah Bunin Benor. It explains abbreviations like FFT, FFB, and BT and describes various features of the speech of Orthodox American Jews; I thought I’d highlight this paragraph:
Two other peculiarities complete Benor’s list. One is a singsong “talmudic” intonation, particularly in sentences with logical reasoning expressed in dependent clauses like, “If you were going to the grocery anyway, why didn’t you buy some bread?” The other is what Benor calls a “hesitation click” — a “tsk”-sound used, like “um,” to give the speaker time to think of what to say next. (Although she is no doubt correct in ascribing this to Israeli influence, she errs in thinking that it is used this way in Israeli Hebrew. The Israeli “tsk” simply means “No,” although when occurring in midsentence in what Binor rightly calls a “corrective click,” this “no” can have the sense of, “On second thought, that isn’t what I really wanted to say, so I’ll try to say it again.” This is probably how, misinterpreted by Orthodox American Jews exposed to Israeli speech, it became an American Jewish “hesitation click.”)
Thanks for the link, Jonathan!