Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Phrase of the Day: "Staying By" So-and-So

"Who are you staying by for Shabbos?"

The phrase "staying by" always gave me pause because it sounds "wrong" to my American English ear. However, it is standard in American Ashkenazi communities (which means most of Jewish America). Just to be clear, it is used instead of "staying with." My understanding is that the Yiddish way of "staying with so-and-so" uses the preposition that translates as "by," so immigrant Jews began saying "saying by" as a literal translation of their native tongue.

As much as I hated the phrase, I've started saying it. You just can't escape it, so you might as well join 'em. 

6 comments:

  1. LOL! Thanks for this one. It has driven me nuts forever. The etymology is much appreciated. :)

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  2. It's funny. I'm am a stickler for proper grammar. That being said, I was reared in a home where Yiddish words and syntax were liberally applied to English. So these phrases don't really leap out at me the way they do to someone new to the lingo.

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  3. I can take a guess that assuming Yiddish is like German in this, in German we would use the preposition 'bei' to mean 'at'. Hence you'd say "I'm staying *bei* so-and-so", to mean you're staying at their place.

    Perhaps someone who knows Yiddish can confirm?

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  4. Google Translate, enter the word "at" and translate to German. Also translate it to Yiddish. ;-)

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  5. I grew up in an Dutch and Afrikaans house, in South Africa, using the word "by" as substitution for "at" happend in South Africa alot, so no one notices.

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  6. In Hebrew, the word אצל means by and is used to mean staying with somebody. I thought that's where it came from

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