Ah, Yiddish. It’s such an expressive language. With the violent destruction of most of eastern European Jewry, the immigration of those who survived to the United States or Palestine has seen Yiddish threatened by assimilation in the case of the former and by outright disapproval in the case of the latter. I’ve discussed the potential revival of Yiddish with a local book vendor who once recommended I read IJ Singer’s The Brothers Ashkenazi. He contends that without a truly vital large-scale (read “national”) Jewish culture in which Yiddish can be nourished, the language is ultimately doomed.
Be that as it may, consider the variety of Yiddish words for the word penis alone. Putz, schmuck, schmeckel, shlong, shvantz, and the one I’m featuring here, pud. I recently wrote a science fiction story in which PUD features prominently as an acronym for Public or Private Urban Drone. P.U.D., get it?
In my near future, urban drones are ubiquitous, owned and operated by public or private entities such as the police or corporations. First off, it is perfectly legal for individuals to own their own drones and spy on their neighbors. Then, there’s the potential for corporate ownership of drones, already a reality. The use of police drones is a highly contentious issue, as is the FBI’s use of drones for domestic spying. Perhaps the most interesting, and most scary site I’ve linked to in this post is DIY Drones, which speaks for itself.
DIY?!? Remember when punk rock first started using the term do it yourself? Now we’re talking about DIY drones!
Yiddish is discouraged in Israel as a gutter or mongrel language by the Israeli state and the Hebrew speaking Israeli society. Which is why I love this joke:
Retiring from a big corporate job in LA, Marvin moves to Tel Aviv. (So nu, you were thinking maybe he’d move to a kibbutz?)
Wanting to contribute to nation-building somehow he focuses on stock-trading, the only vocation he knows. But, to commute to his new humble penthouse office, he refuses to drive a Mercedes like everyone else so he buys himself… a camel.
Every night Marvin parks his camel in the garage under his Tel Aviv Condo and the next morning he mounts the camel for the commute to his new office in Ramat Gan.
One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone… stolen!
He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is “What color was your camel?”
Marvin replies he doesn’t remember, “Probably camel colored I guess… sort of brownish-greyish.”
“And how many humps on your camel?’ asks the policeman.
“Who counts humps… one, maybe two, I don’t know for sure.”
“And the height of the camel, sir?”
“What’s with these dumb questions?” Marvin asks. “The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can’t be certain.”
“Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?”
“Ah, that I know for sure he was a male.”
“How can you be so certain of his sex when you don’t remember anything else about your camel” asks the policeman.
“Well,” says Marvin, “everyone knows he’s a male. Every day I’d ride the camel to work through the streets of Tel Aviv and people would stop and say to each other… ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel!’ “