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Breaking The Language Barriers

NEW YORK, February 1 - The New York City school board has officially declared Jewish English - now dubbed Hebonics - as a second language. Backers of the move say the city's School District is the first in the state to recognize Hebonics as a valid language and significant attribute of New York culture.

According to Howard Schollman, linguistics professor at New York University and renowned Hebonics scholar, the sentence structure of Hebonics derives from middle and eastern European language patterns, as well as Yiddish.

Prof. Schollman explains, "In Hebonics, the response to any question is usually another question-plus a complaint that is implied or stated. Thus 'How are you?' may be answered, 'How should I be, with my feet?'"

Schollman says that Hebonics is a superb linguistic vehicle for expressing sarcasm or skepticism. An example is the repetition of a word with "sh" or "shm" at the beginning: "Mountains, shmountains. Stay away. You want a nosebleed?"

Another Hebonics pattern is moving the subject of a sentence to the end, with its pronoun at the beginning: "It's beautiful, that dress."

Schollman says one also sees the Hebonics verb moved to the end of the sentence. Thus the response to a remark such as 'He's slow as a turtle,' could be: "Turtle, shmurtle! Like a fly in Vaseline he walks."

Schollman provided the following examples from his textbook, Switched-On Hebonics.

Question: "What time is it?"
English answer: "Sorry, I don't know."
Hebonic answer: "What am I, a clock?"

Remark: "I hope things turn out okay."
English response: "Thanks."
Hebonic response: "I should BE so lucky!"

Remark: "Hurry up. Dinner's ready."
English response: "Be right there."
Hebonic response: "Alright already, I'm coming. What's with the 'hurry' business? Is there a fire?"

Remark: "I like the tie you gave me; wear it all the time."
English response: "Glad you like it."
Hebonic response: "So what's the matter; you don't like the other ties I gave you?

Remark: "Sarah and I are engaged."
English response: "Congratulations!"
Hebonic response: "She could stand to gain a few pounds."

Question: "Would you like to go riding with us?"
English answer: "Just say when."
Hebonic answer: "Riding, shmiding! Do I look like a cowboy?"

To guest of honor at his birthday party:
English remark: "Happy birthday."
Hebonic remark: "A year smarter you should become."

Remark: "A beautiful day."
English response: "Sure is."
Hebonic response: "So the sun is out; what else is new?"

Answering a phone call from son:
English remark: "It's been a long time since you called."
Hebonic remark: "You didn't wonder if I'm dead yet?"

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