I'm looking for some resources that discuss English spoken with the influence of Yiddish/Hebraic grammatical structures. For instance, things like:

You want I should...

"Do you want me to..."

I should be so lucky

"May I be so lucky"

Anything to point me into the right direction would be greatly appreciated.

  • Seems like these are asked on meta instead.
    – Kris
    Jan 15, 2014 at 7:58
  • 1
    This sounds very interesting, especially since the expressions become adopted into the wider community, especially in the North London area.
    – WS2
    Jan 15, 2014 at 9:24
  • 2
    I’m voting to have this question re-submitted or whatever is necessary / possible to ELU.Meta. Dec 30, 2022 at 19:51

5 Answers 5


The transformation creating certain topic or focus constructions, like "Beans I like, but fish I can't stand", was called Y-movement by Paul Postal, for instance in his book Crossover Phenomena. The "Y", I believe, stands for Yiddish.


Frumspeak is a tongue-in-cheek dictionary of "yeshivish," which is something of a mashup of Hebrew, Yiddish and English that is used widely in yeshivos today (hence "yeshivish"); exactly what you described in your question.

See also here and here, from Wikipedia.


Leo Rosten's The Joys Of Yiddish is a fun book covering both Yiddish itself and how it has interacted with English. It isn't exhaustive, of course, and it may be biased toward American, and specifically New York, "Yinglish", but it's a classic work in this area.


In addition to his most famous book, The Joys of Yiddish (1968), Leo Rosten published two books specifically about the convergence of Yiddish and English in the everyday speech of people living in areas with a significant number of Jewish people from Eastern Europe in the population, and thence to the U.S. population as a whole: Hooray for Yiddish!: A Book About English (1982) and The Joys of Yinglish (1988).

Although Rosten was by no means an academic, he knew from Yiddish—and he delighted in seeing its influence in U.S. English. To provide a sense of what areas of Yiddish/English Rosten's books address, I reproduce the opening page of his introduction to Hooray for Yiddish! below:

The Joys of Yiddish was an unabashedly personal lexicon of words that are often heard or read in English. Their number has grown—enormously—since we last met.

In the book you now hold in your hands, I cast my net considerably further. This work contains:

  1. Yiddish words that have won acceptance in English dictionaries: the brazen chutzpa, the intrepid kibitzer, the skulking gonef (and so on).

  2. Hybrids, formed out of English, that have been taken to the bosom of Americans: alrightnik, fancy-shmancy, crazy-doctor.

  3. Phrasing and syntax, indigenous to Yiddish, which are racing through spoken English: Enjoy. Big deal. Get lost! Smart, he isn't. Could be.

  4. Mama-loshn clamoring at Webster's gates: the endearing bubeleh, the picturesque shlep, the all-purpose shtik.

  5. Entirely new words, not minted of English elements, for which there simply are no Anglo-Saxon competitors: shmegegge, doppess, ipsy-pipsy, etc.

  6. Yinglish expressions, sui generis, that I recommend for admission into the ranks of colloquial (at least) English: the sardonic Go know, the raffish gefutzevit, the delicious tsatske, the unspeakable paskudnyak.

Again, as this excerpt makes clear, Rosten's books aren't scholarly. Nevertheless, his interest in Yiddish and what he calls Yinglish is serious and leads him to cover the types of things that the OP seems to be asking about. As far as I know, these books are now out of print, but they were fairly popular when they came out and they are regularly available (and generally quite inexpensive) at online booksellers and auction sites.

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