The Unofficial Duluth-to-Jewish Dictionary

The day I moved here, a man asked me, "Geez, where ya from with that funny accent?"

"Strange, I was thinking the same thing about you," I replied. I laughed boisterously, flailed my arms and slapped my thigh. He snorted softly and two fine hairs on his left eyebrow made the slightest twitch.

On it went: He said potatah, I said latke. He said tomaytah, I said borscht. It didn't take long to discover that pronunciation was the least of our problems. My new neighbors and I needed magic decoding rings to understand each other's accents, tones, and jokes. So, in the interest of regional tolerance, I've prepared this easy-to-follow guide:



When Jews discuss,
it means:
When Minnesotans discuss, it means...

The Weather

Discomfort. As in "Oy, is it hot, Sophie. I'm schvitzing to high heavens!"

Or, "I'm freezing to death in here! Of course, YOU never come by to fix the radiator."

A full half hour of conversation, followed by an abrupt and awkward silence. "Do ya like it here in Minnesota? Oh, yah? Yah, the weather gets cold here. Say, I'm goin' ice fishin' with some buddies from high school t'morrah. It's gonna be a cold one..."



Jewish Meaning

Minnesota Meaning


"I'm very disappointed in you. How could you do this to me? I carried you for nine months, fed you from my own bosom, put you through law school. How could you?"

Used to express any emotion, from boredom to fascination, seething contempt to passionate love.


Pity. Often reserved for a nebbishe creature of inferior intellectual endowment.

Hatred. Can express either immediate dislike or residual contempt held in for weeks, months, even decades.



Jewish Style
Minnesota Style


Gefilte Fish. A bland piece of fish,boiled and canned in lumpy, jellied broth of unknown origin. Served at Passover.

Lutefisk. A bland piece of fish, boiled in lye and smothered in lumpy white sauce of unknown origin. Served at Thanksgiving and every day at Sven and Ole's Swedish pizza shoppe in Duluth.




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©2001 by Ophira Edut. The hand that rocks the dreidl rules the world.