Monday, March 16, 2009

שבֿט ניע בראַט; אָדר ניע ברודער

שבֿט ניע בראַט; אָדר ניע ברודער

דאָס „ייִדישע שפּריכװאָרט“ איז באמת נישט אױף ייִדיש. דער גראַמאַטיק איז רוסיש און דער זאַץ איז דערפֿאַר אַ רוסישער כאָטש מיט ייִדישע אותיות. עס מײנט „דער חודש שבֿט איז נישט קײן ברודער און דער חודש אָדר אױכעט נישט“ ד"ה, דער װעטער בלײַבט נאָך קאַלט און רעגנדיק. אָדע איז זײער אַ פֿרײלעכער חודש, אָבער אַ קאַלטער, און דער ליבער יום־טובֿ פּסח איז שױן אױף דער נאָז.

The Yiddish saying “Shvat nye brat’; Uder nye Bruder” (The month of Shvat is no brother, and neither is the month of Adar) is in fact not in Yiddish. The grammar is Russian, so the whole sentence Russian, Yiddish letters notwithstanding. The saying refers to the lingering cold in these early months of spring. The month of Adar is joyful, but cold, and the beloved holiday of peysekh is already on one’s nose.


Anonymous Litvak said...

א שיינעם דאנק for this post. I have been told that my grandfather z"l used to say שבֿט ניע בראַט, but I didn't know the second part about Adar. Your explanation of the saying and its background are illuminating and ring true here.

Keep up the great work!

12:56 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

I am just learning Hebrew, but so admire your Yidish skills.

2:39 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

Ah--This is very interesting. Of course if your grandfather is a Litvak, as your screen-name might suggest, he would not use the second half of the saying because "Oder" and "bruder" would not rhyme in his dialect area.
Maybe I should mention this in the post.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Litvak said...


He (ע"ה, ז"ל) was a Litvak indeed (Minsker gubernia, Novhardok region), who was compelled to emigrate to the USA not long after his marriage, and lived out his life there.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Lao Qiao said...

To the best of my knowledge, there is no area where Uder and Bruder rhyme. I assume Bruder has to be German, which suggests that the saying is from the Austro-Hungarian Empire—which also includes much of the area where the month containing Purim (Pirim) is pronounced Uder.

10:20 AM  
Blogger aqem said...

oysergeveyntlekh! itst ken ikh iberzetsn af yidish far di kinder "in like a lion, out like a lamb" (nisht gekukt af dem fakt vos der zin is nisht dos zelbe)

10:55 PM  
Blogger Shira Beth said...

Dear Chocolate Lady, as the self-appointed president of the Jerusalem branch of your fan club, allow me to thank you for the single-minded yet light-hearted spirit in which you usher us towards the beloved festival of Pesach. Around here we tend to get a little crazed, and a little crabby too. Yiddish sayings, new recipes, and your English prose are, it turns out, just what we need!

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Litvak said...

I asked an older Galitzianer Yid (Reb Yisroel) about this on Shabbos. Not with high hopes, but I figured I would give it a try anyway, who knows...

At first he didn't seem to recognize it, but when I elaborated and pressed the issue, I elicited the following from him : 'Shevat iz a brat, Oder iz a brider, Nissan iz a hint, in Iyyar oich'. In Litvishe Yiddish that would be 'Shevat iz a brat, Oder iz a bruder, Nissan iz a hunt, un Iyyar oich.' He said to me that brat is a word in Polish as well (the Polish and Russian languages, both Slavic, are related). Perhaps an old childhood memory came back to him. Now perhaps his recollection wasn't totally accurate, but it does raise the possibility, that what is involved here is some type of rhyme about various months of the year. In his version, four months were involved. Perhaps there was an even longer version with all the months, perhaps there were other versions for other months, perhaps some parts were forgotten over the years, so that some related/remembered only fragments. Perhaps what is involved is a Jewish adaptation of some Russian/Polish/German rhyme as well.

Perhaps some experts and/or some weighty tomes on Yiddish sayings should be consulted.

Also, I am curious about Nissan and Iyyar being like a hunt (Yidd.). What might that mean?

Of course, maybe he mixed things up and did some invention, but he may have also provided us with some more clues to help us hopefully get to the bottom of this.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

זייער שיין :-)

8:18 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

best comments page evah!

1:38 AM  

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