Hebonics


From the New York Times:

Hebonics, or The Jewish Grandmother's language: (Jewish English or "Hebonics") The Encino (CA) School Board has declared Jewish English a second language. Backers of the move say the district is the first in the nation to recognize Hebonics as the language of many of America's Jews.

Therefore, hereafter teachers will recognize, study and accept Hebonics as another language. Following are just a few descriptions of the characteristics of the language and samples of phrases in standard English and Jewish English.

Samples of Pronunciation Characteristics

Jewish English or "Hebonics" hardens consonants at the ends of words. Thus, "hand" becomes "handt."

The letter "W" is always pronounced as if it were a "V". Thus "walking" becomes "valking". "R" sounds are transformed to a guttural utterance that is virtually impossible to spell in English. It is "ghraining" "algheady"

Samples of Idiomatic Characteristics:

Questions are always answered with questions: Question: "How do you feel?"

Hebonics response: "How should I feel?

The subject is often placed at the end of a sentence after a pronoun has been used at the beginning: "She dances beautifully, that girl."

The sarcastic repetition of words by adding "sh" to the front is used for emphasis: mountains becomes "shmountains - turtle becomes "shmurtle."

"Th" is pronounced as a "d" or a "t", as in: "De Dodgers shoulda never went to Elay." or "Help! Dere's a mot in de sveaters!"

Sample Usage Comparisons

Standard English Phrase Hebonics Phrase
"He walks slow" "Like he's in deep mud he valks."
"Sorry, I don't know the time" "What do I look like, a clock? "
"I hope things turn out for the best" "You should BE so lucky"
"Anything can happen" "It is never so bad, it can't get verse"

Please be sensitive to those speakers of Hebonics. Since it is its own language, do not attempt to correct its speakers, but, like Ebonics and Yankonics, you should make every effort to learn and use it.




Last modified: 11/26/1997