Miky (pronounced Mikey) is a recent immigrant from Israel who has wound up in Helena, Montana. Did you know that Montana had a substantial Jewish population in the nineteenth century? And “in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish,” according to a NY Times story by Eric A. Stern: “Yes, Miky, There Are Rabbis in Montana.” Read it: it doesn’t go where you think it’s going. (Thanks, Eric!)


  1. The Edeka supermarket around the corner from me carries Matzen (matzo). It’s in the Knäckebrot section. I’ve never seen it in that section of other supermarkets. Maybe this is related to the fact that there is a Jewish school not much farther down the street, to the left, in a slightly better neighborhood. Still, the school is securely fenced and heavily guarded.

  2. My Sprachgefühl does its thing once again: I assumed Edeka must be an acronym like Kadewe, and sure enough, Wikipedia tells me “The cooperative was founded in 1898 as the E.d.K. (Einkaufsgenossenschaft der Kolonialwarenhändler).” Hmm, Kolonialwarenhändler, kind of embarrassing, no wonder they went with initials.

  3. Kolonialwarenhändler doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got naughty colonies. Kolonial is the old word for grocers (grocery store) in Norway too.

  4. … and by old, I just mean they don’t have that kind of shop any longer, they have supermarkets instead. The word isn’t un-p.c. or anything like that.

  5. … and Norway of course never had any colonies.
    Unless you count the S.Pole or Spitsbergen.

  6. Trond Engen says

    When I was in fifth grade the parents of a classmate of mine opened a neighbourhood grocery store. They were also active supporters of the schools marching band, and the whole band came to perform outside on the opening. I was a novice (or recruit, or whatever the term might be) that year, so nobody told me about it, let alone ask me what to play, and the result of that is that I’m still resentful that nobody thought of playing their old parade number: The New Colonial March.

  7. The South Pole, Spitzbergen, Greenland, Iceland, and England. All desolate areas of no real importance.

  8. Dan Milton says

    From Norway Online
    By the closing years of the 19th century, traders were loading traditional Norwegian cargoes like timber and fish as pure speculation, hoping that they would find a market in Africa, Asia, Australia or Latin America. Return cargoes included coffee, tea and spices and other commodities, previously unknown to most Norwegians and described for that reason as “colonial” goods. (To this day, the Norwegian word “kolonial” is used to describe an ordinary grocery store.)

  9. Don’t underestimate Spitsbergen. It had important coal reserves and was at one time close to being both an American colony and a Russian one. An American, a Mr Longyear, had a coal company and he founded the main town on the island, Longyearby (“by” means town or city). The Russians were there until the fall of the Soviet Union and there’s a wonderful ghost town, I’ve seen pictures of it. The archipelago is called Svalbard and that’s how the place is known in Norway. We used to get the Longyearby local newspaper, but I think our subscription has run out. It’s a super cool place to live, according to my wife, in all senses.

  10. Milton: described for that reason as “colonial” goods
    That’s what I figured. There was a big chain of grocers in Britain when I was growing up (50s & 60s) called The Home & Colonial Stores. I expect they did the same thing. They were bought out and now are part of Safeway.

  11. in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like
    Not only “late” in the 19th century, right? Loeb “Levi” Strauss was a general dry-goodsman to prospective prospectors, fugitive miners, and the came-to-a-kind-of-rest ‘loose’ of America in San Francisco from 1853, whence he became jeans genie to the world.

  12. A lot of our local suburban K-9 dogs come from Germany, where they train–in German–with the officer who will be their handler.

  13. … and Norway of course never had any colonies
    So who killed Snorri Sturleson?

  14. In pre-revolutionary Russia there were “Колониальныя товары” stores that would sell imported goods such as tea, coffe, oranges etc. Now, judging from other commenters, it seems to be a direct borrowing from Germany.

  15. In pre-revolutionary Russia there were “Колониальныя товары” stores … it seems to be a direct borrowing from Germany
    That may be, but the fact that there were stores called Kolonialwarengeschäfte in Germany at the end of the 19th century is thin evidence for the Russian term being “directly borrowed” from the German one. Germany’s colonies were only established at the end of the 19th century, but the big colonial empire that was setting the tone of things in that century was Great Britain.
    The European commercial exploitation of overseas areas and colonies, triangular trade, goes back to the early 17th century:

    Three-sided (‘triangular’) trade route between Britain, West Africa, and the West Indies, in operation until the banning of the slave trade in 1807. Manufactured goods were shipped from England to Africa (the first leg of the journey). The same ship would then take a cargo of African slaves to the West Indies or southernmost American colonies (the second leg of the journey) and sell them for work on plantations. On the final leg of the journey the ship would take sugar, molasses, rum, cotton, or tobacco back to Britain.
    British involvement in the triangular trade began with the colonization of America from 1607 and the West Indies from 1623, but it was dominated by the Portuguese and Dutch until late in the 17th century, when France, Denmark, and Sweden also became involved. The chief British ports were London, Liverpool, Bristol, and Glasgow.

    The English expression “colonial store” appears to be older than the 19th century. It may even be a translation of a Dutch expression. Research into commercial history would throw light on this matter of what stores were called (in various languages) where overseas goods were sold.
    There’s not much of a purely linguistic kind to conjure with here, as regards “specific borrowing”. The occurrence of generic words and constructs like “colonial”, Kolonial-, Übersee-, d’outre-mer etc. in the names of stores in documents tells us little about “specific borrowings”. Colonial trade was a big business, in which many people from different countries were dealing with each other in different languages.
    It is conceivable that the oldest documented occurrence of the-thing-that-means-“colonial goods store” is (the Dutch for) “colonial goods store”, but that doesn’t prove that (the English) expression “colonial goods store” was not also in use at that time. Going further, suppose the Dutch document merely suggests that it would be a good thing to establish a (the Dutch for) “colonial goods store”, but that the British actually established the first store called “colonial goods store”. In that case, who is “borrowing” what from whom?

  16. Off topic, but John Wells has received a question, that sounds like it’s just your thing to answer, and I don’t know if you read his blog:

    I would like to know how Ausubel and Vygotsky are pronounced in an English context. As regards the latter, some colleagues pronounce it /vɪ/ and some others /vaɪ/. I’d like to know which the correct one is.

  17. We still have the word “kolonial” in Danish (in fact, I just saw it today, while looking for sugar on sale (no luck)). I honestly never until now connected it with colonies. But then again, the correct pronunciation of “victuals” puzzles me as well.

  18. So no one cares about the Hebrew-speaking dog? Right, I’ll let myself out.

  19. Nij.

  20. Also I didn’t know that Edeka was an acronym (they’re kinda rare around here these days).
    But we have Føtex and Bilka instead: “Fødevarer og textiler” and “Billiges Kaufhaus”.
    Lidl moved into the discount market recently. I assume it’s a pun/respelling. (Proper d, not a soft Danish one.)

  21. In Cornish, the equivalent of “colonial” refers to the Phoenician traders, of course, and their cargoes of trinkets. They returned home with tin and slaves.

  22. John Wells has received a question, that sounds like it’s just your thing to answer
    Thanks, I went over there and answered it. (Amended the Wikipedia article, too, which only gave the current pronunciation of Vysotsky, with the stress on the second syllable; I added his own pronunciation, with the stress on the Vy-.)

  23. Hat, don’t be offended! I like your Hebrew-speaking dog, especially because it shows there’s no need to learn parts of speech in order to communicate with those who don’t speak your language. Dogs don’t need to, at any rate.

  24. All the dog trainers I have met* say that dogs are more interested in body language (especially hand gestures) than in words. English would sound confusing if you were used to people speaking Hebrew, though. Very like Danish.

  25. A sample size of one is all we need here at LH. This isn’t Nature, thank Jayzus.

  26. Having now read about the dog (I’m not a dog person), it did indeed not go where I was expecting it to, no.

  27. According to Wikipedia, Lidl is a proper family name, here is an excerpt: “The name Lidl is not an abbreviation, but the family name of Ludwig Lidl, a retired teacher. In 1930, Josef Schwarz became a partner in Südfrüchte Grosshandel Lidl & Co., a fruit wholesaler, and he developed the company into a general food wholesaler. In 1977, under his son Dieter Schwarz, the Schwarz-Gruppe began to focus on discount markets, larger supermarkets, and cash and carry wholesale markets.” German Wiki adds the fact that Dieter Schwarz (=black) didn’t want to use his own name for the shops because of its association with “black market”.
    Aldi, on the other hand, is short for Albrecht discount, started by the brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht.

  28. The name of the Dobro resonator guitar was derived romm “Dopyera brothers”, after the three brothers who developed it, but the word also means “good” in their native Slovak language.

  29. The things one learns at this salon.
    The first couple to get gay-married in Denmark were Axel and Eigil Axgil.

  30. There’s something odd about the story: if the dog only understands Hebrew with a sharp Israeli accent, why would the rabbi’s Ashkenazi Hebrew work on it? The tav is wrong, the stress is wrong ….
    And as for the final statement: it’s when the dog starts to reply that the rabbi should really worry.

  31. Südfrüchte
    Good one, I had forgotten about that! I have the impression from my novel-reading that store names with Südfrüchte in them, like Südfrüchte Grosshandel Lidl & Co, came to replace the Kolonialwaren names in Germany in the 20th century. Südfrüchte (southern fruits) is intended to suggest exotic fruit and other comestibles, I guess.
    There are still a lot of little stores called Südfrüchte [proprietor’s name].

  32. Other talking dog story: “Should I have said Dimaggio?”

  33. ~So no one cares about the Hebrew-speaking dog?

    Okay, I’ll tell the story of the German-speaking K-9’s.
    In my old neighborhood, a suburb bordering Chicago, the police department first obtained a dog named “Arpad”. Arpad came from Germany and at the monthly Neighborhood Watch meeting Arpad made a very brief guest appearance, the handler said something in German, some long phrase I think (I didn’t recognize it from my German classes), and Arpad did something, I forget what, I think it was a drug search. They also had a sample bag of cocaine to pass around so everyone could see what cocaine looked like, but I think that was at a different time, because they said when Arpad actually smelled it he would go a little crazy. Arpad cost around $4000, but they must have been happy with him, because the next year they bought three more dogs.
    Here are some bios of actual police dogs posted by the Police K9 Work Dog Association. The bio of the dog Storm (born in Holland, birth name Oscar) with 196 Felony Apprehensions is particularity detailed as to the dog’s work record. A few of the bios give information about the dog’s language or nationality. Brix receives all of his commands in Czech language from his handler. Foster is from Germany. Rambo is a Belgian Malinois, but does that mean from Belgium? Brutus is a Belgian Malinois from Holland and only responds to the Dutch commands given by his handler and partner.

  34. if the dog only understands Hebrew with a sharp Israeli accent, why would the rabbi’s Ashkenazi Hebrew work on it?
    I was once able to get a Danish-speaking dog to understand me, sort of. When I said something like “kump-sa” the dog would come to me, or follow on the leash, but when I tried the phrase for “do you want to go out” the animal just looked at me quizzically. Then a Dane said “do you want to go out” and the dog rushed to the door in an excited frenzy. Most dogs also know the phrase for “get out of the kitchen”, but most dog owners don’t realize they have taught it to the dog.

  35. You forgot to put the hot potato in your mouth, N.

  36. Our younger dog recognises both English and Norwegian, I don’t see why these Isræli dogs can’t understand two languages. Ours likes hand gestures the best, it’s just that I only know the one for sit down. The goats know two languages.

  37. A blast from the LH past: the Hebrew-speaking fish.

  38. Hat: the anecdote is doubly dubious, to my mind. In the 2003 thread nobody seems to have noticed this.
    Mr. Nivelo, who is not Jewish, lifted a live carp out of a box of iced-down fish and was about to club it in the head with a rubber hammer.
    How could a carp still be alive in a box of ice?? Don’t fish die quickly out of water, especially when ice is shovelled onto them? Or do they go into suspended animation?

  39. Ask a carpologist. I just pass on the stories, I don’t fact-check them. As long as they’re about carp speaking Hebrew, I mean.

  40. What, you don’t believe it Grumbly? Sounds a bit fishy, does it? You’re such a cynic.
    … one fish company even contemplating changing its slogan to “our fish speak for themselves”.
    Ivan Karp was a famous art dealer in the old days, he had a gallery on West Broadway called OK Harris.

  41. I suppose you could say it was quite a coincidence that this Hebrew-speaking carp ended up at a Hebrew-understanding fishmongers in New York. What would have happened if it had been an Irish fishmonger, would the fish have spoken Gælic? What about Chinatown?
    Can whales speak Japanese? And that’s another thing, once this carp started talking Hebrew why did the Jewish fishmonger bang it on the head with a rubber hammer? Was it, like: “Don’t make trouble”?

  42. I have no problem believing that there was once a Hebrew-speaking fish. What I doubt is that the fish was alive when it spoke Hebrew.
    So it must have been dead. I suspect that this dead carp was just a tourist. It could only say one thing in Hebrew, as if it had learned it from a phrase book.
    So other questions arise: Was the tour guide ever identified, or did no one investigate? Was the person who finally ate the carp suddenly able to speak Hebrew?

  43. I have to retract, after rereading the description of the incident. The fish could say more than that one phrase, even though it was dead. But, after all, the “local Hasidic man” who was speaking was dead too.
    What a pity that Jews are not Catholic. Then they would have thoroughly investigated these wonders, with a view to beatifying the fish, instead of merely beating it.

  44. Many fish can live out of the water for a considerable period, and icing probably keeps them alive longer rather than killing them.
    I Googled carp + survive + “out of the water” and got this, which includes a story of a carp surviving for several hours out of the water.

  45. Perhaps it’s just a Jewish fairy tale. It is rather Grimm, particularly the ending.

  46. So some guy found himself inside a fish and then ended up preaching to the Gentiles? This reminds me of something. Except his audience turned out to be just Mr. Nivelo instead of the great city of Nineveh.

  47. Here’s another wonder that happened in 2003 shortly after the above incident, according to Hat’s Gewährsmann at the time:
    Correspondent Bob Cohen informs us that a jar of gefilte fish in Bnei Brak has reportedly called upon Saddam Hussein to disarm.

  48. Trond Engen says

    I Googled carp + survive + “out of the water”
    I thought I’d suggest carpus linguistics for this, but my Latin dictionary says it doesn’t fit.
    What it does fit is when a wanker pulls a websearch out of his sleeve, kneads the data until they fit some pet theory, and handvawes at the methodological issue. I thought it was just what they knea… needed at the Log.

  49. Carp-related, did you know that carp and other bottom feeders can ruin a lake for ducks? When they grub around they make the water murky and reduce the amount of light reaching the plants at the bottom.

  50. Carp don’t ruin waterways just for ducks. As generated by human-introduced invasive species of carp, the turbidity and consequent roiling of substrates in aquatic bodies has led to environmentally serious (and commercially expensive) problems in Australia and North America, and, I’m guessing, everywhere else they’ve been introduced for harvesting (or aesthetic?) reasons or mindlessly pitched into streams by bored owners.
    But cut the carping, enviro-whackos! The ‘free’ market, working deuterium-in-plutonium with nature, is solving these, and all, problems, one way or another.

  51. Read it: it doesn’t go where you think it’s going.
    I think that’s the new motto for LH’s comment threads. Especially given this one.

  52. On the other hand, carp are the most important fresh-water commercial fish in the world.

  53. I think this was a pun about carpe diem, “Sea is the day”, similar to the פרקי אבות Pirkei Avot “If not now, when?”. That’s what this fishmonger was saying, “Buy more fish!”.

  54. the most important fresh-water commercial fish in the world
    What’s a reasonable synonym for “most important”? ‘Most difficult to replace’? ‘Most lucrative’?- for whom? Who pays, and will pay, economically for the consequences of the ‘commercial fishing’ of carp- the same people who benefit the most from this industry? Outside of the internalization the eventual costs of carp fishing, what of the other consequences of introducing carp to bodies of fresh water, like extinction of native species and disruption of migrations (of, say, ducks) and difficulties of wild and domesticated fauna in drinking from carp-inhabited waterways?
    Political economy is fun damental.

  55. They’re a native species in much of the world (not the US, though one species has been around for a century) and are grown especially in rice paddies, fishponds, and muddy, slow-flowing rivers in Asia. Pretty much any kind of agriculture or animal husbandry has environmental costs.

  56. David Marjanović says

    Many fish can live out of the water for a considerable period, and icing probably keeps them alive longer rather than killing them.

    What they die of is the gills drying out and then sticking together, leaving them with too little surface to breathe. Cooling slows evaporation and, by reducing the metabolism, reduces the need for oxygen.
    As long as they don’t dry out, gills are fine for breathing air.

  57. You’ll notice that you don’t see any Yiddish-speaking police dogs. That’s because the Yiddish language is inherently allergic to the use of military or governmental force or coercion, just like Mr. Sapir-Whorf (Wharf?) says.

  58. He likes it – hey Miky!

  59. Z.D.: The members of the Yiddish Policeman’s Union probably use them.
    Which leads us to the restaurant customer who claimed to be able to speak to the fish on his plate (not only dead, but cooked even). He mumbled something, then listened closely.
    The waiter said, “So what’s he saying?”
    “I asked him, ‘How are things in the ocean?’, and he replied ‘How should I know? I haven’t been there for three years!'”

  60. Where do you get these jokes from? They’re very good. Is it because you live on E. 3rd Street?

  61. deadgod: Dams are essentially a form of deficit financing.
    κορώνα: I’m a jokester, so I’ve been collecting jokes my whole life long. Many of the Jewish ones, though, come from Leo Rosten’s three overlapping Yiddish-English lexica: The Joys of Yiddish (1968), Hooray for Yiddish (1984), and The Joys of Yinglish (1988). Most people’s hearts, including mine, are given to the first, but the others are certainly not chopped liver either. To call them “lexica” is misleading: there are headwords, and there are definitions, but it’s the jokes the books are really about. Don’t come to these books to learn (directly) about Yiddish: that’s definitely not what they are about, and the subtitle of the second one, “A Book About English”, could apply to all.
    There is now something called The New Joys of Yiddish (2001), with additional material by Laurence Bush. I haven’t read this, and the comments at Amazon are, to say the least, highly polarized. At any rate, all of the content of the original is said to be preserved. The footnotes I’ve seen so far in the Amazon preview have been neutral and factual, but apparently some are quite opinionated: I don’t see why this would have bothered Rosten, who was plenty opinionated himself.
    Here’s one you won’t find in Rosten: in fact, it’s pretty edgy — any goy that completely gets this should pat himself on the back.

    “You know”, said a man to his Talmudic study partner, “we’ve been studying together for almost twelve years now, and yet I never see you anywhere else. My oldest son is becoming bar mitzvah next week, and I thought –”
    “This is kind of embarrassing,” interrupted the partner, “but actually I’m not Jewish.”
    “What? How? But — but — but you’re wearing a yarmulke, you grow payess, you …”
    “I know. I got interested in this Talmud stuff back then, figured I’d check it out, and one thing kind of led to another. It was easier to blend in.”
    “But don’t you remember that passage we studied about five months ago, that says any non-Jew that keeps all the commandments is under a curse?”
    “No problem! Every Shabbos, I deliberately walk more than two thousand cubits, so that takes care of that.”
    “But there’s an eruv around the community — you can walk even five thousand cubits without violating the commandment.”
    “Ah, but I don’t accept that eruv!”

    And here’s a Rosten one-liner for lagniappe (explanations on request): “This little dresske? It’s nothing! I just use it for streetwalking.”

  62. Funny thing, there was just an article about Leo Rosten being very popular in Czech, at Poemas del rio Wang.

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