Jewish Grammar Rules
- Phrase statements as questions. Instead of telling Ida she looks
gorgeous, ask her, "How stunning do you have to look?"
- Instead of answering questions definitely, answer with another
question. When someone asks how you feel, answer, "How should I feel?"
- Whenever possible, end questions with "or what?" This allows the
other person to interject another question: "Has she grown up, or
what?"; "Can you remember when she was just a baby, or what?" (About
now, a spontaneous rendition of "Sunrise, Sunset" should be expected.)
- Begin questions with "What?" Example: "What, my kishka's not good
enough for you?"
- Drop last word in sentence (which is typically a direct or indirect
object): "What, do you want to get killed going alone? Ira will go
with" (drop "you").
- Move subject to end of sentences: "Is SHE getting heavy, that
- Use "that" as a modifier to infer contempt: "Is Esther still dating
that Norman fellow?"
- Use "lovely" to describe actions taken by someone else that the
listener should have done too: "We got a lovely note from the
Rabinowitzes for hosting Seder." (Translation: "What, you didn't
eat charosis and drink Manichevitz?")
Just as the Eskimos have 27 words for snow, Jews have 31 words for
Only those fluent in Hebonics will sense when to call someone
mashugana, ts'mished, furdrehet, hot nisht ein kaup, or vaist nisht vus
ehr reht. Here are a few words to get you started.
- "Sch--", as a prefix to anything, suggests disapproval: "Cadillac
schmadillac, you're suddenly too good for the Lincoln?"
- Learning to pronounce "sch" properly is the first step in speaking
Hebonics like a real Jew. Nothing makes us giggle harder than the
sound of Gentiles say, "It's not raining, just spritzing." It's the
same "ssshhh" sound as the prompt to be quiet.
- Schmuck--Most commonly used as "jerk", but can also be used as a
"sucker," as in , "Why am I always the schmuck who gets left with the check?"
- Schmoe--See schmuck.
- Schmata--Rag, as in, "Why does she wear those schmatas, that
- Schmaltz--Literally means chicken fat, but when used in
conversation it's sappy or corny. "The movie was OK, but why such a
Just because Jews are asking questions, doesn't mean they're going to
wait around for an answer. If you've got something to say, speak up.
Jump right in there with a hearty, "What, are you crazed? That's not
the way to fix a leaky faucet!" (You will never use this phrase,
however, since Jews do not do home or car repairs.)
Interrupt often. It shows that you are interested in the conversation.
If you're talking and Jews don't interrupt, they're bored.
You're on the freeway, when a sports car speeds past you, weaves
between cars and drives recklessly. Your Jewish passenger asks, "Who
gave that maniac a driver's license?" Wrong answer: "In the 1950s, the
United States made an economic decision to encourage automobile
ownership over public transportation to support the automotive
industry which created jobs and stimulated the economy. Ever since,
most anyone can get a driver's license." Correct answer: "Morons."
Gentiles can also profit from learning the nuances of Hebonics.When
shopping in the garment district, a Jewish shop owner may seem insulted
at your low ball offer on merchandise. He may shout, "What, I'm the
schmuck who shouldn't feed his children?" The untrained Gentile
simply cannot translate this phrase to its true meaning, "Let the