Shlong vs. schwanz

Anent the addenda to Does “in like Flynn” refer to Errol Flynn’s success with women?, my wife’s 1898 Yiddish dictionary (would you believe she’s been translating an operetta?) says expressly that schwanz can mean either. Note that there was no such thing as standard Yiddish until 50-60 years ago.

Into or out of?

And, um, why?

Reminds me of the “cock” thing. While I was in the Navy ('64-'68), I was astonished that some of my buddies couldn’t wait to get to “PI”, so that they could get some “cock”.

Why not?

I assume “out of.” As for “why,” the Yiddish theater was once quite big and many shows have not been translated into English. Since today fewer people speak Yiddish, which in entertainment 100+ years ago was pretty much America’s Second Language (and a smattering was still needed to “get” a lot of comedy 40 years ago), these shows can be lost forever. JWK’s mom is performing an important cultural service. I just hope she leaves in those words that have entered American English. “Schlemiel” or “klutz” are funnier-sounding words than “bungler.” Unless you can get some alliteration going because “B” is a funny sound.

To answer the questions, my wife (ahem!) was translating Bar Kokhba, by [Abraham Goldfaden](Abraham Goldfaden) (1840-1908) from Yiddish to English. She was commissioned by parties wishing to mount a production.

Offhand, I don’t believe she had much opportunity for Mad-style “This is a Yiddish word, so it must be funny” humor, as Bar Kokhba is, as the title suggests, rather dark. (Yes, operettas can be dark. Consider The Yeomen of the Guard, Bitter Sweet, or Kálmán’s Der gute Kamerad. As I was leaving the theater after a performance of the last, I overheard someone saying, “This is a better anti-war play than Mother Courage.” I don’t say I agree, but there you are.)

“So, Lonestar, I see you schwartz is as big as mine!”

“Now let’s see how well you … handle it.”