Mish-Mash

When speaking to her father, our shom hashabes zeyde (ultra-religious grandfather,) Mama spoke a lofty Yiddish.  The rest of the time, while we were on the farm, I recall that it was an earthy Yiddish and richly interspersed with English farm words.  Me darf kuln di hiner (We have to cull the chickens.) Another was tshikn kreyt (chicken crate) and not kastn for crate.

I remember certain words and phrases that seemed to come up much more frequently than others.  Mama seemed to mish quite often.

There was mish mash—a hodge podge, a jumble, an odd mixture.  When she heard that a youngster had not declared a major in college and was taking many different courses, “I’m trying to find myself,” Mama referred to his courses as being a mish mash.

Araynmishn - Mish nisht arayn—(Don't put in your two cents or it’s none of your business, don’t mix in.)  Mama felt that many family problems arise when in-laws butt in. 

This realization came later in life after she had done some irrevocable damage.  It also was her attitude about politicians

Farmisht and Tsemisht—both refer to one who is confused.  Farmish and tsemish both mean to confuse.  I am trying to recall if there were instances when Mama would use one term or the other.  I vaguely remember that she used farmish when she was telling you to not confuse her.  On the other hand if she were referring to her being confused she would say that she was tsemisht.  It was as if farmish was a verb and tsemisht was an adjective.

Mishmilkh—a milkshake, while in the Bronx and before we went to the farm, Mama coaxed us into drinking more milk.  She said it was a malted milkshake, but it usually was Ovaltine.  Once we tasted it there was no turning back.  The rule in our house was—if it was on your plate or in your cup and you started to eat or drink it, you had to clean the plate or make bottoms up with the cup

Tsumish—to add and mix up as when we added buttermilk and water to the poultry mash in making wet mash.  It was supposed to make the mash more palatable for the chickens. 

The idea was that the more they ate the more eggs they would lay.  Actually, the more they ate the more droppings they produced.  Another instance was to mix the corn, wheat, and oats to make the grain mixture known as “scratch.”

Mama’s usage of Yiddish was her own mish mash, her personal interpretation.