Arthur Kober's Bronx Jewish Dialect (1930s-1940s), Pt. I

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Thu Aug 16 02:52:07 UTC 2001

   Arthur Kober (1900-1975) deserves far better than the OED cites him.  He was once married to Lillian Hellman.
   David Shulman tells me that he's never gone through Kober at all.  Oi vey!  Here goes.

by Arthur Kober
Simon & Schuster, NY 1935

Pg. 9:  "_Nu_, Bella, give awready another person a chance.  Is showing moom pickchas inside?"  (Bella's in the bathroom.  A cartoon is on page 11-ed.)
Pg. 15:  "A _goy_."
Pg. 16:  "Miss Hurry-Shmurry!"
Pg. 28:  "You must parm me the forks," she apologized.  (OED's first "parm" is 1945 Kober!--ed.)
Pg. 36:  She must make with peffessehs and with music and with fency-schmency talk.
Pg. 36:  "That stuck-upnick!"
Pg. 48:  "Look who's talking!"  (Also on page 159.  Kober used this a lot--ed.)
Pg. 67:  I played "hard to get."
Pg. 73:  "Lookit him, Mr. Millionaire!"
Pg. 87:  "The way you talk a person could think you were a little _shikka_."
Pg. 113:  ...he gizz me the razzberry.
Pg. 115:  "Beyoodyful!"
Pg. 128:  "Parm me," said Mrs. Gross.
Pg. 133:  "_Feh_!"  Mrs. Perlberg again voiced her disapproval.  "What is by you '_Feh_!' with a travelling salesman?" asked the indignant Mrs. Gross.
Pg. 136:  ...right away he lets out such a _geshrei_ you can hear him all over the whole neighborhood.
Pg. 159:
Pg. 163:  "Look the _geshrei_ he's making."
Pg. 170:  "You _meshugeh_ udder what?"
Pg. 177:  "Stop awready _hocking_ me a _cheinick_ with small paychicks!"
Pg. 181:  Then there were the "cockamanies"--painted strips of paper which the kids applied to their wrists and rubbed with spit until the image was transferred to their hand.
Pg. 190:  ...that crazy "Itchy" Flexner was a scream...
Pg. 191:  Pajama parties!  ("Pajama Party" is the title of the chapter.  Not in OED--ed.)
Pg. 203:  "'re kinda deep, you are."
Pg. 209:  "Parm me fo pointing."

a play by Arthur Kober
Arno Press, NY

Pg. 55:  (_Holding up her plate_) You call this chopped liver?
Pg. 55:  Excuse my boarding-house reach.
Pg. 56:  Canya change my _forshpice_, Chick?
Pg. 57:  I'll have some of that tomahto juice, please.
Pg. 57:  Mrs. G. gets special the temeteh juice.
Pg. 59:  Ah, chopt liver!  Just what I like.
Pg. 59:  Oh, I can make that.  You just take liver and chop it up.
Pg. 83:  Don't go 'way.  I'll be right back after I give _schmiggeggie_ here a work-out.
Pg. 84:  Oh, are my cheeks red!
Pg. 96:  The feeling is mutual, I'm sure!
Pg. 102:  Ah, ha!  We have Professor Einstein with us today.
Pg. 106:  Listen to Miss Inferiority Complex!
Pg. 112:  It looks as if we're just a couple of _schnooks_.
Pg. 113:  Why? (Response follows--ed.) "Y" is a crooked letter.
Pg. 119:  Make it snappy, kiddies.  I gotta heavy date.
Pg. 130:  Isn't he a scream, Teddy?
Pg. 158:  That _schmiggeggie_!  She's strictly hit-and-run stuff!
Pg. 159:  I don't hand out a line of _schmoos_--not even in business.
Pg. 168:  You better get a large glass of temata juice.
Pg. 170:  Did you gimme a _shreck_ just now!
Pg. 171:  I just said, "Parm my back."

by Arthur Kober
Simon and Schuster, NY
(Material taken from NEW YORKER of previous years)

Pg. 9:  Interne!  I was thinking of the word and now it comes to me.  Interne!  He was working for a hospital on the East Side...
Pg. 8:  ...he's got more customers than you wanna shake a stick at.
Pg. 10:  There was a big guy--the Big Shot, see?--...
Pg. 10:  ..._Bambino_.  That's Eyetalian for baby.
Pg. 18:  Now for cryin' out loud... (Another frequent Kober expression--ed.)
Pg. 20:  "That's a two-dollar word, aw right."
Pg. 34:  "Dijja ever see such flowers?" (Another frequent Kober expression--ed.)
Pg. 52:  "What's the big idear..."
Pg. 58 ("Cafeteria"):  I've oney got two hands.  I'm oney human.  I wasn't talkin'--It so happens I was takin' the man's order.  Yes, sir.  One lettuce and tomater on gluten!
Pg. 61:  "Hey, pipe down!"
Pg. 83: hunnerd C's...
Pg. 97:  Fellas, call me crazy, call me dopey, call me anything you like, but I got a theory...
Pg. 102:  After all, I think the average audience knows by this time that "The Dip" means a pickpocket...
Pg. 165:  ...a _schmoltzy_ old guy like Lionel Barrymore...
Pg. 167:  "I'm gonna keep a stiff upper lip and keep smiling all the time."
Pg. 175:  "Honey, what's up?"
Pg. 176:  "Yeah, 'SWAK.'  You know, it's 'nitials meaning, 'Sealed with a kiss.'"
Pg. 187:  ...she's not one of these "deze, dem and don't" girls.
Pg. 214:  ...sit around _shmoosing_ about this...
Pg. 236:  ...I could tell he was plenty _fashnootzkied_...
Pg. 236:  ...a girl that's got a stunnin' figger and can throw them casabas around...  (RHHDAS has S.J. Perelman from 1970!--ed.)

(Continued with two more books in Part II)
   From Lucius Beebe's column in the NEW YORK HERALD TRIBUNE, 2 August 1941, pg. 7, col. 2:

   Oldtimers at the Waldorf Men's Bar were recalling within hearing distance of this reporter the other day the happy '90s when "the bird" was a brand-new cocktail and not a Bronx cheer.

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