How German Jews and Non-Jews Laughed at Each Other in Not-So-Private Languages

“Good Lord, the Christian woman understood!”

Two men in Augsburg, Germany in 2019 exchange laughs. Shutterstock.

Two men in Augsburg, Germany in 2019 exchange laughs. Shutterstock.

COLUMN
May 25 2022
About Philologos

Philologos, the renowned Jewish-language columnist, appears twice a month in Mosaic. Questions for him may be sent to his email address by clicking here.

Sarah Benor, a noted figure in the field of Jewish sociolinguistics, has sent me a note regarding my last column. This dealt, as you’ll recall, with a Jewish-German argot called Lachoudisch, many of whose large number of Hebrew-derived words are still known to the non-Jewish inhabitants of the Bavarian town of Schopfloch in which it was spoken. At one point in the column I observed that the name Lachoudish, which has generally been explained as coming from Hebrew lashon ha-kodesh, “the holy tongue,” was more likely to have derived from “[Schopf]loch jüdisch, i.e., the Jewish speech of Schopfloch. This wasn’t my own idea. I had come across it in a discussion of Lachoudisch and it seemed sensible.

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More about: German Jewry, Germany, History & Ideas, Jewish language