Feb 17, 2021
These days, it has become increasingly common for language instructors to tailor exams to the authentic situations and uses that students might be called upon to communicate in the language they are studying. In keeping with these trends in language pedagogy, we are proud to present our innovative series of speaking and writing prompts for students finishing their first semester of Yiddish.
1. Translate the attached handwritten passage in bad handwriting on deteriorating paper from your next door neighbor’s uncle’s mother-in-law, which he found in his attic. There will be no monetary compensation for this task.
2. Decipher these seven phrases that sound vaguely like Yiddish that someone used to hear their grandmother-in-law loudly exclaim when she stubbed her toe.
3. Track down the author, title, publication information, source for the sheet music, performer, and recording of a Yiddish song. You will be provided with only seven mispronounced words from this song, and they are not all from the same stanza.
4. You’re at an academic conference and you are pregnant. A renowned professor who insists on speaking to you only in Yiddish keeps changing the topic to ask about your health. Try to change the subject to your research.
5. Decipher your grandmother’s emails, which are written in Bessarabian dialect, half transcribed in Roman characters and half in Israeli Hebrew transcription.
6. You have received an email in which the writer “corrects” your Yiddish, despite the fact that they have no previous knowledge of the language. Respond tactfully.
7. Provide Yiddish spellings and etymologies for the names of all of your friends’ newborn children and/or recently deceased relatives. Keep in mind that your advice will be irrevocably inscribed on the child’s birth certificate and/or the relative’s gravestone.
8. Your acquaintance asks you to translate a Yiddish word that their grandfather used for them as a term of endearment when they were a child. Politely explain that this word is a vulgar term for genitalia but is whimsical and heartwarming in the diminutive.