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Research Day: Hebrew, Yiddish, and Semi-Weekly
Hebrew vs. Yiddish: The Queen and I had a watched a DVD double-header last week: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban followed by Trembling Before G_D. The former film you made have heard of; the latter is, as IMDB puts it, "A cinematic portrait of various gay Orthodox Jews who struggle to reconcile their faith and their sexual orientation." It is also remarkably boring, given the provocative subject matter.
Afterwards, The Queen asked me if the people in the film had been speaking Hebrew or Yiddish, and I confessed to not knowing. "What is the difference between Hebrew and Yiddish," she asked.
"Well," said I, "'Hebrew' is their language, and 'Yiddish' is the sport they play while flying around on broomsticks.
After a few moments of stony silence, I added, in my best (albeit terrible) Hagrid impression, "Yeh mean the Gentiles kept it from yeh for all these years? Yeh don' even know what yeh are?! Harry -- yer a Jew!"
"You are totally going to get hate mail if you put that on your blog," said The Queen.
Dictionary.com defines Hebrew as "The Semitic language of the ancient Hebrews, [or] any of the various later forms of this language, especially the language of the Israelis." Plugging the phrase "what is yiddish" into Google, meanwhile, brought me to this page. "Yiddish was the vernacular language of most Jews in Eastern and Central Europe before World War II ... The basic grammar and vocabulary of Yiddish, which is written in the Hebrew alphabet, is Germanic. Yiddish, however, is not a dialect of German but a complete language -— one of a family of Western Germanic languages, that includes English, Dutch, and Afrikaans."
What does semi-weekly mean? Speaking of religion and definitions (that was the best segue I could come up with), the Daily Show "Senior News Correspondent" Stephen Colbert says, in this NPR interview, that he reoccurring segment This Week In God is a "semi-weekly feature." That struck me as odd, because why would you have a twice-a-week bit that purports to recap an entire week?
Then it occurred to me that "semi-weekly" might be like bi-weekly and mean both "twice a week" and "every other week." But then I looked up "semiweekly" in my desk dictionary and verified that it only means "twice a week." So Colbert must have misspoken.
(Wow, is that the most anticlimactic Research Day question resolution ever? I kind of feel obligated to tack on a better, more interesting ending.)
But that gave me a great idea. And soon thereafter I launched "Bi-Weekly Magazine," a publication for the bisexual and bi-curious community. When that became wildly popular -- along with it's sister publications "Semi-Weekly" (a magazine about large trucks) and "Fort Night" (a periodical featuring pictorials of edifices built out of sofa cushions) -- I became obscenly wealthy. And then I used my money to buy the Internet. The end.Posted on January 25, 2005 to Research Day