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Yiddish phrasebook

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Yiddish is spoken as a daily language in some parts of America, mostly in New York City, and in some parts of Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, and South America, as well as in Israel. It is slightly higher than standard German, with a large admixture of words of Hebrew, Slavic, or other origin. As Yiddish is roughly 75% Germanic in origin, German speakers can understand a large part of it.

Yiddish is written with the same alphabet as Hebrew, with a few additional letters, and is written from right to left.

Pronunciation guide

Yiddish pronounciation is different from German or Israeli Hebrew. Words of European origin are spelled out, similar to most European languages, and can be said as they are spelled. On the other hand, words of Semitic (Hebrew and Aramaic) origin are written just as in the original Hebrew or Aramaic, without vowels. In many cases you must learn how to pronounce these words in Yiddish; you cannot necessarily work it out from their spelling, and they are mostly pronounced differently from Israeli Hebrew.

א shtumer alef 
silent
אַ pasekh alef 
axe
אָ komets aleph 
orange
ב beys 
like bear
בֿ veys 
like volume
ג giml 
like gone
ד daled 
like dog
ה hey 
like harp
ו vov 
like or or tune
וּ melupm vov 
used in place of ו vov when it appears beside װ tsvey vovn
װ tsvey vovn 
like violin
ױ vov yud 
like boy
ז zayin 
like zebra
ח khes 
like the Scottish Gaelic loch, German ach, or as in Khanuke; used only in words of Hebraic or Aramaic origin
ט tes 
like tuck
י yud 
like yet (as a consonant) or internet (as a vowel)
יִ khirek yud 
used beside another vowel instead of י yud, to show that it is to be pronounced separately
ײ tsvey yudn 
like bay
ײַ pasekh tsvey yudn 
like pie
כּ kof 
like keep; used only in words of Hebraic or Aramaic origin
כ ך khof 
like loch
ל lamed 
like leave
מ ם mem 
like mother
נ ן nun 
like never
ס samekh 
like some
ע ayin 
like set
פּ pey 
like upon
פֿ ף fey 
like free
צ ץ tsadek 
like boots
ק kuf 
like coo, but further back in the throat
ר reysh 
voiced gargle as in French, can be pronounced as root
ש shin 
'shoe
שׂ sin 
like seem
תּ tof 
like teeth
ת sof 
like smooth

Phrase list

Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.


Basics

Hello. 
שלום־עליכם (sholem-aleykhem)
Hello (to you) (in response to a "Hello") 
עליכמ־שלום (aleykhem-sholem)
How are you? 
װאָס מאַכסטו? (Vos makhstu?) (informal) / װאָס מאַכט איר? (Vos makht ir?) (formal)
Fine, thank you. 
Gut, a dank, Got tsu danken, Borukh Hashem
What is your name? 
Vi heystu? (informal)/ Vi heyst ir?(fomal)
My name is ______ . 
Ikh heys ______.
Nice to meet you. 
Es frayt mikh aykh tsu kenen (I am happy to make your acquaintance)
Please. 
Zayt azoy gut/ Ikh bet dir
Thank you. 
A dank.
You're welcome. 
(...)
Yes. 
yo (י)
No. 
neyn. (נײן)
Excuse me. (getting attention
Excuse me. (begging pardon
I'm sorry. 
Goodbye 
Zay gezunt, A grus in der heym
Goodbye (informal
A gutn
I can't speak Yiddish [well]. 
Ikh ken nisht reden Yidish (gut).
Do you speak English? 
Redstu English? (informal)/ Redt ir English? (formal)
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Help! 
oyshelfn!
Good morning. 
Guten morgen.
Good evening. 
Guten ovent.
Good night 
A gute nakht.
I don't understand. 
Where is the toilet? 
Vu iz dos bodtsimer?/ dos vanetsimer?

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