Alexander Germano.

Alex Foreman, in a Facebook post, linked to Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov’s “Beginning of Romani literature: The case of Alexander Germano” (Romani Studies 5, 30.2 [2020]: 135-61), and said:

This is the article in which I learned that Alexander Germano, the famous Russian Romani poet, was not a Rom. […] Not only was he not a Rom but the Roma around him apparently didn’t care and were completely unbothered by him participating in Romani literary and cultural life as a non-Rom. Even the one private negative remark from Pankov that Marushiakova and Popov found seems like it could just as easily be a negative assessment of his writing rather than his choice to write in Romani. He seems to have just felt no need to claim such an identity. It was a non-issue. A Rom identity was constructed for him after his death. […]

The situation with Romani in the early Soviet Union reminds me a bit of Yiddish in the US today in that there are prominent non-Jews who do things like perform in Yiddish theater, and no Yiddish-speaking Jew seems to have a problem with it. There was a level of security and self-confidence that Roma enjoyed in the early Soviet Union (complete with using Romani as a vehicle of primary education) whose attempt to incorporate them while respecting their difference was briefly pretty successful. Such a thing has simply never happened anywhere else, at least not on that scale. I think Macedonia may get there though.

I think one legacy of this brief period is the fact that the traditional exonym for the Roma, Tsygan, is generally not considered offensive in Russian, and is the term typically preferred by Russian-speaking Roma in Russian. Even attempts to use the terms “Rom” and “Romskiy” in Russian may be mocked. Lera Yanysheva has a very funny satirical poem “The Activist” where her Russian-language self-translation puts the term “Romskiy” in a guy’s mouth to make him sound ridiculous.

On the “briefly pretty successful” attempt to incorporate them while respecting their difference, see this 2010 post describing the brief heyday of linguistic korenizatsiia; Alex expanded on his feelings about the Romani situation in a comment:

My position is that your ancestry does not dictate the affinities you feel — linguistic or otherwise — and you shouldn’t need a claim of ancestry to legitimate those feelings. The Yiddish translator or “Waiting for Godot” is famously lapsed Episcopalian and the universe in which he felt he had to hide that fact would be a worse one.

There’s been way too much lying about that kind of thing with Romani. I can think of a few Romani authors that felt they had to lie about their ancestry like this. I don’t like the situation that makes that move appealing. I am very glad he himself didn’t do that in this case. I’m a bit miffed at his wife and others. And I am glad I dodged the bullet of contributing in print to the posthumous rewriting of his ancestry.

If anything this makes me respect the man *more* and I can read his Romani work with more understanding as the labor of a Russian making a foundational cultural contribution to a people he deeply cared about.

At the same time, it complicates my reading of those works when he writes about the Roma in the first person plural. It makes sense in a different way now as I realize the context in which is work would have been accessible to the vast majority of Ruska Roma, which is being read aloud orally to an audience by a Rom.

Here’s a brief Russian bio, with photo, of Germano (there’s no Wikipedia article); as I told Alex, the whole thing is fascinating.

Comments

  1. incorporate them while respecting their difference

    When you are running a research institution you can of course have a bedouin department whose researchers will move across desert while occasionally publishing articles about Russian dialectology (because why all bedouins should study bedouin?) and receiving payments.

    But in states it can mean purely formal recognition and nothing else. I mean modern states, not medieval suzerains.

    the traditional exonym for the Roma, Tsygan, is generally not considered offensive in Russian
    How it can be different when there is simply no other word for them?

    I think the author sees the two-names situation (potentially a treadmill) “unmarked” and this one “marked”. I won’t claim that ours is unmarked, but I think the two-names situation is not so.

  2. I think one legacy of this brief period is the fact that the traditional exonym for the Roma, Tsygan, is generally not considered offensive in Russian, and is the term typically preferred by Russian-speaking Roma in Russian.

    is this actually true? in BCSM, “Cigan” is defiitely considered an offensive slur compared to “Rom”.

  3. J.W. Brewer says

    @nemanja, I don’t know the facts of the matter in Russia, but it’s not like perceptions of offensiveness or tabooness arise from universally-true objective factors rather than contingent historical factors which may be context-specific and not be paralleled in other societies. To take a simple parallel, “Eskimo” has become a taboo word in Canada, but not nearly so much in Alaska.

  4. @nemanja, I can’t speak for Gypsies themselves, but there is simply no other word available to me as a Russian Russian speaker.

    So again, it is techinically impossible to see it as a slur. Same as with “French”.

  5. is this actually true? in BCSM, “Cigan” is defiitely considered an offensive slur compared to “Rom”.

    Yes, as far as I can tell. The former USSR is a long way from the former Yugoslavia, and the histories and cultures are very different.

  6. Just don’t take existence of two words for Gypsies for granted.

    Someone must coin the synonym first:) Then Gypsies will have a neutral Russian name and a dedicated slur (for everyone who needs to insult them).

  7. fascinating! i’m excited to read the article!

    it feels to me like germano’s may be a parallel situation to that of rudolf rocker, the “anarchist rabbi” central to the london yiddish world, who came from a non-jewish german lineage – probably the most visible example of the way jewishness has traditionally been a matter of affiliation rather than blood-descent. (a less optimistic parallel, i suppose, would be essad bey / kurban said / lev nussimbaum – but i don’t know that he, as a person, was ever welcomed as a participant in azerbaijani literary life)

  8. PlasticPaddy says

    I think there may be two things going on:
    1. Languages taking only one or more than one ethonym
    2. Sensitivity within multiethnic societies
    Re 1, the ethonym “polack” is acceptable in Polish and Italian, not so much in German or (Am.) English. I think that unlike for Gypsy, Russian has more than one word for Jew, with only one word regarded as neutral by everyone.
    Re 2, I have the impression Drasvi is used to a robust multiethnic community, where the Russians are the big brother granted latitude in speech, as long as no job/education/housing/medical etc., discrimination is applied. I believe that, at least until the 60s, many English called Scots Jock, Irish Paddy and Welsh Taff and indulged in broad stereotypes with, in general no offence given or taken.

  9. PP, but don’t we need at least one synonym for tsygane first?

    Presently, I’ll use tsygane and you will use tsygane when speaking Russian. And the reason will be: “because there are no synonyms”.

  10. cuchuflete says

    Re 1, the ethonym “polack” is acceptable in Polish and Italian, not so much in German or (Am.) English.

    I don’t know, but suspect you are right about AE, given creeping wokeness, or growing civility, as your bias may dictate. But twas not always so. In the early 1960s I went from music camp, Interlochen, in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, to rural Wisconsin with friends from the latter.
    One day some Oconomowoc locals introduced us to new acquaintances.

    My friends, hearing only first names, immediately asked, “Hunyock or Polock?” It was all casual, nearly automatic, and without offense meant or taken. My friends were of Scandinavian stock, but the region was populated predominantly by descendants of German and Polish immigrants.

  11. PP, I mean, to me it looks like an attempt to explain the colour of the apples absent from a basket.

  12. Keith Ivey says

    There were no synonyms in any of the other languages before Roma people started using “Roma” or derivatives in them and advocating for other people to do so. The fact that that apparently hasn’t happened in Russian is because of differences in society, not a lack of vocabulary within the language.

  13. Keith Ivey, yes. The fact that Russian has one word where some other languages have two can of course be related to what you said.

  14. J.W. Brewer says

    I don’t know about the situation in other languages, but “Romany” was in some use in Anglophone texts in the 19th century, long before there was any general feeling that “Gypsy” might be insensitive. People who become aware of an endonym may use it for any of a number of reasons beyond fear that using an exonym will give offense.

  15. jack morava says

    I was told by father that if someone called me a bohunk I was to (try to) deck him. Later in life it occurred to me that this must be connected to honky, as in Richard Pryor and Chevy Chase on classic SNL. Sitting alone as a breakfast visitor at New College in Oxford years later I listened to two fellows chatting at a far table in a register that I couldn’t parse, that (I realized) sounded like a group of geese…

  16. J.W. Brewer says

    In my youth “polack” was in reasonably common use but also understood to be a slur, but I don’t recall “bohunk” being in active use, perhaps because the ethnicity in question was not found in sufficiently significant number in the region or possibly just because “Polish jokes” had for whatever reasons become a national phenomenon such that the associated stereotypes were common cultural capital nationwide regardless of how high or low the local percentage of Polish-Americans actually might be, whereas Bohemian/Hungarian/Lower-Slobbovian/etc.-Americans had not managed to achieve that same distinction.

    “Bohunk” -> “honky” (perhaps via “hunky,” which is attested as a rough synonym for “bohunk”) is definitely an etymological theory that’s out there, but there are several rival theories out there, and perhaps enough to add up to “no one really knows.”

  17. David Eddyshaw says

    TIL that (if Wiktionary is to be believed)

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tzigane#English

    Tzigane etc derive from Byzantine Greek ἀθίγγανος “untouchable.” Etymology is not meaning, of course, but one can see that it might have unfortunate associations. (This seems also to be a very touchy issue with Roma activists, who like to proclaim that their Indian forebears were actual high-caste warriors, thank you very much, and certainly not itinerant entertainers, camp followers or whatever.)

  18. jack morava says

    I remember this because it seemed a bizarre thing to be tasked with and I never had a chance to put it in practice. Maybe you had to be from Nebraska.

  19. Dmitry Pruss says

    In Russian, the word Roma is in use for the Romani subgroups like Servitka Roma or Ruska Roma. The words are more familiar to the narrow circle of those in the know, but it exists and probably stands to acquire wider acceptance soon

  20. I think that unlike for Gypsy, Russian has more than one word for Jew, with only one word regarded as neutral by everyone.
    The word that is the slur in Russian is the neutral word in Polish, so that (as I was told) therefore the Russian overlords in Communist times tried to replace Żyd by Hebrajczyk “Hebrew”, importing their own distinctions into a situation where they didn’t apply.

  21. J.W. Brewer says

    As to the etymology of the endonym, wiktionary asserts “Romani rom, probably from Sanskrit डोम (ḍoma, “member of a low caste of travelling musicians and dancers”) or डोम्ब (ḍomba),[1] probably ultimately from the same root as Sanskrit डमरु (ḍamaru, “drum”).[2] Kuiper (1948), Turner (1962-6) and Beníšek (2006) suggest that the word डोम्ब (ḍomba) is of Munda origin. The names of the Lom and Dom are related. Related దొమ్మర (dommara) and डोंबारी (ḍombārī) (community of wandering artists).” Those promoters of the high-caste warrior theory may have some work to do.

  22. David Eddyshaw says

    It’s worth pointing out (though perhaps not to Hatters, who know these things already) that “Rom” was never the self-designation of all the groups now called Roma. Or even most.

    For example, the Welsh Romani (whose language is now extinct, but was splendidly documented in the twentieth century*) called themselves “Kale”, which is etymologically “Blacks.” This was the rule rather than the exception. Sinti, Manouche (as in Django Reinhardt) …

    * John Sampson, The Dialect of the Gypsies of Wales: being the Older Form of British Romani preserved in the Speech of the Clan of Abram Wood, Clarendon Press, 1926. Also illustrating that in that period, “Gypsy” was used by people who had no pejorative intent at all.

  23. David Marjanović says

    In German, Zigeuner is getting replaced not so much by Roma as by Roma und Sinti. Once I even saw Roma, Sinti und Lovara.

  24. David Eddyshaw says

    Romani deserves a high place of honour in linguistics for having borrowed its definite article.

    (And yet you still get long-rangers confidently proclaiming that such-and-such a class of words are never borrowed. Usually personal pronouns. This may be more plausible to scholars whose L1 is not English. Numeral words are another favourite.)

  25. J.W. Brewer says

    @David M.: But how to you refer to a single individual member of the Roma-und-Sinti group? As Roma-oder-Sinti?

  26. Dmitry Pruss says

    Isn’t the definitive article a regular Balkan Sprachbund thing?

  27. David Eddyshaw says

    Sure. But the Romani one is (a) preposed, despite this being an Indic language and (b) either remodelled on or outright borrowed from Greek. Or outright borrowed from Greek and remodelled after noun flexions. (I’m away from home and unable to look it up in Matras’ book at present.)

    Greek influence (on all of Romani) is profound: to the point of having created whole new regular conjugation and declension patterns. The Greek-derived ones were traditionally called “thematic”, as opposed to “athematic” for the inherited Indic, though I gather that new technical terms are in vogue now.

  28. “In Russian, the word Roma is in use for the Romani subgroups like Servitka Roma or Ruska Roma. The words are more familiar to the narrow circle of those in the know, but it exists and probably stands to acquire wider acceptance soon”

    @DP, is it how they call themselves in Russian – or more like a jargonism of “the narrow” Russian circle?

    If the latter, I also sometimes hear from linguists farsi instead of персидский, and even Tuatha Dé Danann instead of племена богини Дану (but these are usually племена богини Дану). One reason can be that русские цыгане does not sound as a name of one group of Russian Gypsies.

    But its disadvantage is that it is almost code-switching. This is how bookish borrowings can look like.

  29. Also illustrating that in that period, “Gypsy” was used by people who had no pejorative intent at all.

    DE, same today. I’m sorry to say it, but I never came across an example of pejorative usage in English:(

  30. When Ivory Coast renamed itself Côte d’Ivoire in all languages it changed from Берег Слоновой Кости to Кот-д’Ивуар in Russian. Which always struck me as fundamentally unserious, what sort of country calls itself “cat”?

  31. David Eddyshaw says

    This rather nice (if not wholly accurate) map of “Gur” languages on Russian WP

    https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%93%D1%83%D1%80_(%D1%8F%D0%B7%D1%8B%D0%BA%D0%B8)#/media/%D0%A4%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BB%3AGur-ru.png

    has some (to me) rather startling transliterations of names of places and languages. Particularly the double vowel symbols for long vowels, which is familiar enough in Latin-alphabet versions, but looks weird in Russian. Is it just a normal convention in Russian too?

  32. The use of the term “Roma” is widely promoted by Romani rights as a catch all to diverse sets of people with Romani origins, beginning in the 1960s when Romani organizations began to establish some influence over what outsiders were calling them and saying and writing about them. Today the slogan “Nothing about us without us” is widespread in discussions about Romani identity.

    That said, not everybody is comfortable with calling themselves “Roma” The term “Gypsy” (Romanian: țigan, Hung.: cigány ) was indeed used as a pejorative in many places, such as Romania or Hungary, but in both I have met many people who prefer to refer to themselves as “Gypsy.” One acquaintance, a musician, refers to himself as “Gypsy” when speaking Hungarian or Romanian, but “Rom” when speaking Romani. After a concert in England he was asked to correct himself when he used the word “Gypsy” instead of “Roma” in reference to his music, and his reaction was “We are Gypsy. That’s what we’ve always called ourselves.” Another musician, with whom I mainly converse in Romani, felt that “Roma” specifically referred to Romani speaking groups like the Lovari “who wear hats and boots”, but not to musicians like himself. Another acquaintance who worked in Roma human rights in Hungary felt that he was tired of being labeled as Roma, as nobody in his community spoke Romani and all his relatives simply knew themselves as “Gypsies.”

    It gets even more absurd when speaking with Beaș / Boyash intellectuals (of which there are a lot) whose ancestors were enslaved in Romania and lost the Romani language, but brought with them an archaic form of the Romanian language when they became a Balkan diaspora. They refer to their language as “țiganești” and themselves as “țiganii” But in the context of funding schools or cultural foundations in areas with a Beaș majority (like southern Hungary), they gladly label themselves “Roma.”

    I’m not saying the term “Roma” on an official level is inherently flawed, merely that in real life Romani communities it is not always 100% applicable as a rule. Regarding artists of debatable Romani ancestry co-opting the image of “The Gypsy” to sell books, film festivals, or push “Gypsy-Punk” music…. I just came across this fascinating discussion on “Romani Music, Social Justice and Activism: Perspectives and Challenges” featuring Romani ethnomusicologist Ioanida Costache and Prof. Carol Silverman. https://archive.org/details/calauem_200201_omvf0000094

  33. PlasticPaddy says

    @drasvi 12/07:12.59, 13.43
    Sorry for not responding earlier. I agree that where there is only one word, there is no way of avoiding its use. Except that it is not logically necessary to use labels, i.e., Black student / teacher as opposed to student / teacher. The Dutch, who until recently, did multi-culti very well, did (or still do?) not include nationality/ethnicity (or even full firstnames) for criminals in newspaper reports. I remember a colleague noting that you could tell that someone named, say, Y. De Beer was from an immigrant background, though.

  34. @PP, well, I rather meant not just “avoiding” but a certain logical observation. In the OP it is said that tsygan is not “considered negative”. I believe, as long as there is only one word, this parameter (“considered …”) is simply unspecified.

    Meanwhile I wholly agree with Keith that the number of words for Gypsies in a language has a lot to do with its history.

  35. In my youth “polack” was in reasonably common use but also understood to be a slur

    For our generation All in the Family was certainly influential in making „you dumb Polack“ a widely shared epithet across the U.S. I don’t recall Archie ever saying „Bohunk“ on that show. That is not an ethnic group that even existed for us in D.C or in New Hampshire.

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Particularly the double vowel symbols for long vowels, which is familiar enough in Latin-alphabet versions, but looks weird in Russian. Is it just a normal convention in Russian too?

    Answering my own question: yes, apparently (sometimes, anyway) –

    https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%94%D0%B0%D0%B3%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8_(%D1%8F%D0%B7%D1%8B%D0%BA)

    https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9C%D0%BE%D0%BE%D1%80%D0%B5

    I Did Not Know That. (I still think it looks weird.)

  37. David Marjanović says

    Mongolian is what it looks. Or Karelian.

  38. DE, two syllables with hiatus: Ma-as (the river).

    I think if you write salaam and tell a Russian that it is not two syllables, just a loong sound, she will read it more closely to actual Arabic lenghtening than if you write salām:) As a transcription it is good I think. But…
    It is not used in Russian which absolutely can have hiatus.

    And I think it is море / моси in Russian. They are so in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia.

    There is such a character, Yuri Koryakin. He
    (1) is a linguist and works in the Institute of Linguistics
    (2) writes language articles for WP
    (3) makes maps for WP
    (4) writes langauge articles for the Great Russian Encyclopedia.

    4 is WEIRD. I mean, they should have asked specialists:) I mean, “a linguist” is not the same as specialist in Oti-Volta. But it is of course their problem, not his. 2 is weird too but specialists could write themselves…

    So it is Мооре in the GRE and … it is Yuri.

  39. However I see мооре here in an article about arealisms in Kwa.

  40. As you know Orissa and Oryia are now Odisha and Odia.

    Meanwhile the names sound as “Orissa / Oryia”. There is no [d] there, at all (as for their reading of s/sh I forgot. I think [s]). D (dot below) appears here on etymological grounds. It WOULD have been used in Sanskrit. If it were a name from Sanscrit. In Oryia the sound is a rhotic.

    I’ll abstain of discussing whether this makes sense in India where they use Latin alphabet (for names in many languages) and English langauge. Opinions in Odisha/Orissa itself vary.
    But I don’t think it makes any sense in Cyrillic and Russian – it is not “renaming” it is merely a change of the ENGLISH name (used in INdia, I must remind).

    So an admin in Ru.WP proposed renaming the Russian article. The objection was that Russian publications use r and ss. He said it does not matter because Russian publication WILL use d and sh.

    But years later publications in Russian kept using Orissa because everyone consults WP for the proper spelling of everything. So… he just changed the name and immediately Russian publications began using Odisha🙂

  41. So presently it is Мооре apparently, because the only man who cared (and who does not know Gur languages) prefers a transliteration to transcription for some reason.

    (Though…. Moore is used throughout the GRE.)

  42. David Eddyshaw says

    two syllables with hiatus

    Yes, that’s what I’ve always supposed.

    “Arealisms in Kwa” sounds quite interesting. How does Mooré come into that, though? It’s a long way from any Kwa languages (apart from Chakossi, which must represent a relatively recent migration from much farther south.)

  43. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Sigøjnere was the only word we had, and as such not pejorative in itself, but it was connected to prejudice about extralegal activities. Then roma was introduced and we learned that sigøjner was a bad word. But of course the prejudice didn’t go away. People talking down Roma people may choose to use the old word for perceived effect, but not always.

  44. I think some possible reasons why a word can sound bad are

    Group 1
    – transparent literal meaning.
    – other meanings

    2
    – negative associations with the referent
    This one is complicated. We associate things with both the sign and the referent. To complicated matters, there is an issue of “historical” associations and more recent ones, and also ones you learn from products of high culture, “literarary” and “vernacular” ones.

    Group 3
    – …with users (when there is more than one word)
    – the word is used negatively as opposed to some other word.

    These are quite different. Group 3 is about the situation when there are two words. Perhaps some of people who think that the situation when a word used in another language does not coincide with the word in Romani treat this situation exactly so – but there is a difference.

    People talking down Roma people may choose to use the old word for perceived effect, but not always.” – I almost always hear жид from Jews and allied people. Educated anti-semites basically never use it (it is not there is shortage of those).

  45. David Marjanović says

    Similar to the N-Word in the US, then.

  46. The modern Hebrew צֹעֲנִי/צוֹעֲנִי tso’ani was coined by Mendele Moykher-Sforim. After the common manner, the word was designed to evoke the sound of the European (German/Russian) words, while claiming a Hebrew etymology: in this case, צֹעַן ṣoʿan, the biblical Zoan in Egypt (= Tanis?), and maybe also with a nod to the rare verb ṣʿn, meaning something like to ‘to pack up a tent’ (Is. 33:20).

  47. @DM, not that bad I think: you can use it when representing speech of those who use it.

  48. I almost always hear жид from Jews and allied people. Educated anti-semites basically never use it (it is not there is shortage of those).

    What do those educated antisemites use, then?

    In the US the word Jew (but not Jewish) is neutral in some contexts, pejorative in others; I have not quite mapped them out in my mind. Certainly it is favored by committed antisemites of whatever educational credentials.

  49. I think we should also ask whether “she’s anti-semitic” is more polite than “she’s an anti-semite”:)

  50. @Y, just the literary word, евреи. “Hebrews”. Any word for Jews is going to have a smell and colour and overtones and everything a self-respecting word should have.

    Yes, English gradually moves to the scheme where adjectives are better than nouns and partly has reached it – while in Russian, converesely insults are often based on substantivated adjectives (when used predicatively they are not substantivated, of course).

    (committed anti-semites may have another motivation: preference for older forms. On the other hand maybe they use adjectival forms to describe themselves…)

  51. Interesting. A Jewish woman I knew in the United States who grew up in the USSR did not like the dictionary form еврейский язык for the Hebrew language. She insisted on using иврит. I assumed she just preferred the endonym in general. Could it be that еврей had those kind of bad associations?

    I am surprised about жид. In pre-WW2 literature describing Jewish life in Russia and Ukraine the term is the standard insult. The Russian WP entry describes it that way too.

  52. @Y: One possible reason is that in contemporary Russian, еврейский язык is ambiguous between “Hebrew” and “Yiddish” (as “language of Jews, written in the Hebrew alphabet”); if you look at Russian language learning sites and books, a lot of them use идиш / иврит (as applicable) in order to disambiguate.

  53. About жид: I have observed a lot of casual anti-semitism when talking to Russian-speakers (not only Russians, but also members of other post-Soviet nationalities), in line with a lot of casual racial and ethnic stereotyping against other groups going beyond what one would get away with in comparable educated society in Western countries, but I never heard the word жид used. In written, I have ever only encountered it in older sources (say, pre-mid-20th century) or historical novels. My impression is that the Soviet campaign to eradicate the word was so successful that even for most modern Russian antisemites it’s so quaint or associated with the “wrong” kind of ideology that it’s not worth the opprobrium. I guess it’s still used in some atavistic corners of Russian antisemitism, but those are places where I never had the opportunity or the desire to go. I must also say that I’m not aware of the re-appropriation of the word by Jews or advocates that drasvi mentioned; maybe that’s a more recent development; I’m spending a lot less time than I used to in the Russian-speaking parts of the internet.

  54. @Hans, I would not call it re-appropriation.

    My understanding is that when such a name exist, it is not just an “insult”. It is your name. One of names for what you are (idiotic, used by idiots, etc.).
    So chances are that instead of just being displeased by the word, you will occasionaly use it.

    One thing about жид is that mentioning the word is absolutely acceptable. So jokes about anti-semites is one opportunity to use it.

    The status of the word I think is (1) archaism (2) colloquialism (3) regionalism (4) insult.

    My freind when he was 24 went to the Western Ukraine to some musical festival, and here he met a girl who he liked. More or less local. Not from Kiev, from some place near Mukachevo or Chop…. Must be Chop, because why else he would mention it? It is the westernmost city in the country, so Mukachevo is where he was heading when he was on his way to Chop and we talked by phone.
    When her friends were about to leave the festival they called her to go with them but she was talking to him and they did not like him and the fact that she talked with him and shouted “then stay with your Jew!” and went away. (she went too, with them, later). The word was жид, and he found this entertaining rather then offensive (all right, they in some way meant offence, but the whole scene is so classical… Jewish boy, Slavic girl, mountains, shepherds and shepherdesses, inter-ethnic relations. Love).
    We don’t know whether it is the only word for a Jew in the local dialect (which is possible for the westernmost city) or if not where it is on the range of acceptability, but it is clear that it is their main word.

    (It is then when heading to Chop to his then sweetheart) she decided to go to another festival and to his surprise found himself in a Hungarian city where no one speaks even Ukrainian. Also he (but on a very different level) couldn’t understand Ukrainian of those people from around Chop but people from Kiev told him they can’t understand them either)

  55. @Hans, Y, it is already ambiguos in the Gospel.
    https://biblehub.com/greek/1447.htm (click ◄ for other related words)

    GRK: ἡ ἐπιλεγομένη Ἐβραϊστὶ Βηθζαθά πέντε
    NAS: which is called in Hebrew Bethesda,
    KJV: is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda,
    INT: which [is] called in Aramaic Bethesda five

  56. @Y, people around me call Hebrew/Yiddish иврит and идиш.

    Идиш can be indeclinable, I don’t know why (no sure but perhaps same person may say GEN идиша but LOC after a preposition на идиш).

    There is also древнееврейский – “Old Hebrewish”. It is the formal name for Biblical Hebrew (I don’t know about Mishnaic). Some do use it.

    As for еврейский язык – as Hans noted. In the Bible it means… I’m not sure what. Ask a Calvinist or an ophthalmologist:) But we must have learned “евреи” from the Bible and that might be why in Poland it is not in use. In the Census-1897 it is what 5 millions people chose as their L1 (not sure if it is always Yiddish. I have no idea if, for example, Jewish Tat speakers in Caucasus have “Tat” or “Jewish” or both or what.)

  57. I see that pre-revolutionary Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary confidently says that еврейский язык is Semitic and seems to describe Yiddish as Jewish Jargonic German.
    еврейско-жаргонно-немецкий.

    An encyclopaedia form 1930 says иногда неправильно называется жаргоном, в последнее время распространяется название идиш (jiddisch, yiddish), не дающее повода к смещению Е. яз. с языком Библии. – that is (not literally) sometimes incorrectly referred to as a jargon, since recently the name “Yiddish” is gaining currency, which does not provoke confustion of the Jewish langauge with that of the Bible.

    The Great Soviet Encyclopaedia says (1) Hebrew (2) Yiddish.

  58. @LH, I just found this version of the dictionary of 18th-century Russian:
    http://feb-web.ru/feb/sl18/slov-abc/
    Perhaps you’ll find it more convenient than the one on the sidebar. (just in case)

    (I frequently use the site to consult МАС ot did so when I hanged out on a language exchange site answering questions of Russian learners… Or maybe when other Russians answered incorrectly)

  59. @Hans, I would not call it re-appropriation.

    My understanding is that when such a name exist, it is not just an “insult”. It is your name. One of names for what you are (idiotic, used by idiots,
    The Soviet jews I knew back in the 90s referred to themselves and their heritage as Евреи / еврейский . The word Жид simply never came up, and I’m quite sure they would have been offended by it. So something must have changed in the meantime, at least for some subgroup. As none of the non-Jews I knew used Жид as well, even those who had antisemitic prejudices, this can’t be a case of “people around us call us that way, so that’s what we are”; to me it looks like more of what I call re-appropriation – the extreme asshole racists call us that way, so we take the slur away by using it ourselves, like with the n-word in America, or like some disabled people I’m Germany call themselves Krüppel.

  60. I just found this version of the dictionary of 18th-century Russian

    Thanks!

  61. @Hans, I mean jokular use. Just that it is not a word you will never utter because there is simply nothing funny about it – at least for some people.

    I don’t think any of the Jews around me routinely refers to himself as a жид (as for жидовка, I think I indeed never heard this from girls:)).

    So maybe you misunderstood me.

  62. @Hans (an addition): note that I said that I hear it almost always from Jews and allied people – but I did not say HOW often. Not too often.

  63. Ok

Speak Your Mind

*