Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Hanna Ramras - January 26, 2008

Learning Yiddish

And you said that you uh, you learned Yiddish.

My brother-in-law and his wife--my sister-in-law--they spoke Yiddish at home and uh, my, my br...Portuguese is a Latin language. I had learned Latin in school--in those days we learned--we studied Latin, right? So, a little bit of the grammar remained and it helped me. But I studied--we both studied and uh, my brother-in-law said, "Look, you're young and you are Jewish and Jewish people learn languages easily. They have no difficulty with it because they have no alternative. We speak Yiddish. Please do me a favor, don't come to me and speak Portuguese." And, and I did learn Yiddish because the German helped me too. And when I went back to England to visit many years later and a, a Yiddish expression that my brother-in-law used very often--I was speaking to my cousin and this slipped out and he said, "What did you say? Say it again." and I did. He started laughing and he said, "Hanna, you speak Yiddish like someone who has been speaking it most of their life." I said, "I speak Yiddish to my brother and sister-in-law everyday."

So this was your sister.

Husband: My sister, yes.

You know Yiddish.

Husband: Yes, we all speak, we all--I speak Yiddish. It's no problem, I speak fluent Yiddish.

What was the phrase?

Husband: You understand Yiddish?

A little bit.

Yes? What did I say? I don't remember. It may come back to me but I know that the Yiddish that uh, we didn't speak Yiddish at home. My children don't speak Yiddish but they heard their aunt and uncle speaking it so they, they caught something right in the air like it's--today it's very interesting if you have the news on sometimes or a talk show on, on the radio you will sometimes hear the Israelis--they come out with a Yiddish word--and, and, and in American definitely a lot of it.

It's become a part of the American English language.


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