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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


SCoJeC's Macaronic World Premiere

David Bleiman

SCoJeC was privileged to host the world premiere of David Bleiman's poem, The Trebbler's Tale, written in a macaronic Scots-Yiddish, which won the first prize and the Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie in the Scots Language Association's Sangschaw competition, and will be published in Lallans 96 (forthcoming). David performed it in public for the first time during SCoJeC's Yiddish Open Mic event.

"I realised then that somebody should have recorded the speech of Motty Rifkind and Moishe Pinkinsky in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the golden years of Scots-Yiddish.  But nobody had thought of it then, and it was too late now." 
David Daiches, ‘Two Worlds’, 1957


The Trebbler’s Tale

David Bleiman


Dreg yer tochus frae the lochan,
scraich the rouch o the mama-loshen,
then, gepocked and gemaisled wi shmutz and wi smot,
Scots-Yiddisher mish-mosh is whit ye hae got.
Misguggled, gemisht wi “achs” an wi “ochs”,
a crowdy-shmeered bannock an haimisher lox.
Nu! Sup yer drap nossock an hae a guid nosh,
listen weel to my meiseh and dinna ye fash.
A selkie–strue’s Gott–telt me this in Lumphinnans,
gefilte fush droukit an she mitten drinnen.


Dovid was a trebbler chiel,
a mensh thon boychik, nae shlemiel,
a Litvak, hadnae been tae schule
but davened at Reb’ Daiches’ shul
an onie plashie Sunday nicht,
at “Jewish Lit” wad share new licht.
Dovid aye took the stoppin train,
hoatchin wi aa the trebblin men,
he’d shlep for miles tae scrape twa shillin
an on the train wad lay tefillin.
He shlepped his shmatte aa through Fife,
weel-kent by monie a lanely wife,
whaur Yid and pekl war kenspeckle
in ilka Fifan toun an shtetl.
In Hotzenplotz he’d aften staun,
aye yammerin for the Promished Laun.

Dovid was froom and kept the faith,
frae aa the swicks o shikses safe,
until thon glitch doun at some ferm.
A gallus hen-wife mentin hairm,
caad Davie ben, gied him a broo
which made puir Dovid awfy fou.
Farshnoskert, fartoots an oot the gemm,
whan, chutzpadik and wi nae sham,
she stealt his gear and widnae pay,
his pekl toom, set oan his way.
Dovid got aff at Embra toun,
the nicht was dreich, oor Davie doun:
“In dr’eard mayn gelt, ich bin farloren,
forfend the day doss ich geboren!”
“Ach, are you weel?” a neebour speered:
“Oy vay’z mir, ich hob ayn gey sair heid”.


Noo Dovid an his leid are lang syne gane,
alang wi Jacobs, Greenbaum, everilk-ane,
an sin Scots-Yiddish has nae gontser makar,
some cry me pisher bardie, ithers alter kakker.


Glossary and notes

Trebbler – travelling salesman (Scots-Yiddish)
Tochus – arse (Yiddish)
Frae– from (Scots)
Lochan– small lake (Scots)
Scraich– to make a harsh, grating sound (Scots)
Rouch– the rougher part (Scots)
Mama-loshen– the mother tongue (Yiddish)
Gepocked and gemaisled – marked by smallpox and measles i.e. experienced (Yiddish); pocked is also marked by smallpox in Scots
Shmutz – dirt (Yiddish)
Smot – stain (Scots)
Mish-mosh – hodge-podge (Yiddish), mish-mash is the Scots equivalent
Misguggled– disfigured (Scots)
Gemisht – mixed (Yiddish)
Crowdy– a kind of cream cheese (Scots)
Shmeered– spread, as on bread (Yiddish)
Haimisher – homely/home-made (Yiddish), cf. hamely (Scots)
Lox – smoked salmon (Yiddish), cf. lax (salmon, Scots)
Nu – exclamation, well then (Yiddish)
Drapsmall shot, usually of whisky (Scots)
Sup –drink (Scots)
Nossock– a dram (Scots)
Nosh – a snack (Yiddish)
Meiseh– a story (Yiddish)
Fash– trouble yourself (Scots)
Strue’s Gott – as true as God (Yinglish)
Selkie – mermaid (Scots)
Lumphinnans– a small (inland) Fife village between Cowdenbeath and LochgellyGefilte fish – fish cakes, often eaten cold (Yiddish)
Droukit– soaking wet (Scots)
Mitten drinnen– right in the midst of it (Yiddish)
Chiel – fellow (Scots)
Mensh – decent person (Yiddish)
Boychik– diminutive of boy, can be used humorously of a grown man (Yinglish)
Shlemiel– a foolish person, a loser (Yiddish)
Litvak – a Jew of Lithuanian origin (Yiddish)
Daven – to pray (Yiddish)
Reb’ Daiches– Rebbe (Rabbi) Salis Daiches founded Edinburgh’s Salisbury Road synagogue, father of Professor David Daiches
Shul – synagogue (Yiddish)

Plashie – very wet (Scots)
New licht – progressive learning (Scots), cf licht (light, Yiddish)
Hoatchin – overcrowded (Scots)
Shlep – to haul something or walk a long way (Yiddish)
Lay tefillin– to tie on one’s left arm and forehead phylacteries, small leather boxes containing biblical extracts (Hebrew)


Shmatte – cloth (Yiddish)
Weel-kent – well known (Scots)
Pekl – knapsack, burden (Yiddish)
Kenspeckle– conspicuous, easily recognised (Scots)
Shtetl – small Jewish settlement (Yiddish)
Hotzenplotz– a place in the sticks, at the back of beyond (Yiddish)
Promished Laun – Promised Land (Scots)
Yammerin– whining, a lamentation (Scots and Yiddish)
Froom – religious, observant (Yiddish)
Swicks – tricks, cheats (Scots)
Shikse– a gentile woman (Yiddish)
Glitch – a slide, a risky or shady enterprise (Yiddish)
Gallus – bold and cheeky (Scots)
Hen-wife – woman keeping poultry (Scots)
Menting – intending (Scots)
Ben – inside (Scots)
Broo– a liquor (Scots)
Awfyterribly (Scots)
Fou – very drunk (Scots)
Farshnoskert – bewildered drunk (Yiddish)
Fartoots – confused, disorientated (Yiddish)
Oot the gemm– out of it (Scots)
Chutzpadik – brazen, cheeky (Yiddish)
Gear – stuff, material (Scots)
Toom – empty (Scots)
Set – send, despatch (Scots)
Embra– Edinburgh (Scots)
Dreich – persistently dreary, dull, wearisome (Scots)
In dr’eard mayn gelt – literally, my money’s in the ground, i.e. all is lost (Yiddish), note eard, ground (Scots and Yiddish), gelt, money (Scots and Yiddish)
Farloren – lost (Yiddish)
Forfend prevent, forbid (Scots)
Geboren – (was) born (Yiddish)
Speered – inquired (Scots)
Oy vay’z mir – I am in a bad way, pain or woe (Yiddish) cf wae (woe, Scots)
Ich hob ayn – I have a (Yiddish)
Gey sair heid – extremely sore head (Scots)
Leid – dialect or language (Scots)
Jacobs the poet A.C.Jacobs, whose work included some Scots-Yiddish elements
Greenbaum– the playwright, Avrom Greenbaum, author of Scots-Yiddish poems
Everilk-ane– every single one (Scots)
Lang syne – long ago (Scots)
Gontser makargontser macher, a big noise (Yiddish), makar, a poet (Scots)
Pisher – young squirt, bedwetter, a nobody (Yiddish and, to some extent, Scots)
Bardie – a minor, humble poet (Scots)
Alter kakker – literally, old shitter, an old man who is past it (Yiddish)


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