USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘term of endearment’
Folk speech
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Shayna Punim

Background: Lila is Jewish. Her father is a Rabbi in the Reform Movement and is the head rabbi of a temple in Los Angeles. Lila’s grandmother is also Jewish, and grew up hearing Yiddish phrases from her parents that she now uses with her grandchildren.

Context: Lila was brainstorming things that her parents say to her and was very excited to share what her grandma calls her.

“My grandma always this thing to me in Yiddish, that I’m her Shayna Punem and that means that I’m a pretty face, but it means more than that, it means that I’m her pretty face, I’m the light of her life. She always says “my shayna punim” this, this and that. My grandma is very American, like she was born in America, but spoke Yiddish all the time because her parents because they were from Poland, they spoke Yiddish all the time. That’s one of those phrases that stuck with her and she’ll use when she’s talking to me or her other grandchildren, “you’re my shayna punim” like you’re my pretty face.”

Original phrase in Yiddish: Shayna punim

Reflection: I come from a Sephardic Jewish background since my family is Moroccan so I did not grow up hearing Yiddish from any members of my family. Yiddish is used mainly by Ashkenazi Jews.

 

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