"Ish Ga Fret" (I should worry) in 1914 baseball article

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Sep 8 13:50:03 UTC 2003

In a message dated > Sun, 7 Sep 2003 18:18:18 -0500, Gerald Cohen <
> gcohen at UMR.EDU> asks
> Here's another oddity I've come across in the 1914 baseball columns
> of the _San Francisco Bulletin_: "Ish Ga Fret" (= I should worry;
> actually expresses just the opposite). "Ish" looks like (dialectal)
> German; "Fret" is English "fret" (worry); but what is "Ga"? Might
> there be some connection with "ish kabibble," for which HDAS gives
> 1913 as the first attestation and which has the same meaning (I
> should worry = I don't care)?

Many German verbs start with the syllable "ge", hence if you are creating a
mock German verb you would start it with "ge".  I heard of one case where a
Yiddish-speaker, resident 50 years in the United States, could not think of the
Yiddish word for "to promise" when writing a letter, so he created the nonce
word "gepromise"---to the great confusion of the letter's recipient!

So there is a possibility that "Ga Fret" is simply the result of someone's
rendering the English "to fret" into German, whether as a joke or because he/she
couldn't think of a German equivalent I don't know.  Similarly, it is
possible that "ishkabibble" is a mis-rendering (or dialect variation) of "ich
gebibble" where "bibble" is a presumably non-German verb which the coiner decided to
employ in German (or maybe Yiddish).

       - James A. Landau

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