All Slavic languages: Words for Jew and circumcision

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Diaspora

Senior Member
USA
Serbocroatian, English
So in Serbian and Bosnian the word јевреј (jevrej) is preferred for Jew but in Croatian židov is preferred. I heard жид is considered highly offensive in Russian? How about in Ukrainian. I think of jevrej as more of a religious identity while židov as an ethnic one.

For circumcision, especially medical circumcision we use the word obreživanje but a lot of people associate it with the large Muslim population here and call it sunećenje, which come from I think Arabic sunnah (recommendation)?
 
  • Diaspora

    Senior Member
    USA
    Serbocroatian, English
    I forgot we also have the term ciftut in Bosnia but I think that carries a negative connotation.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I heard жид is considered highly offensive in Russian?
    Pretty much so. Еврей /jevr'éj/ is a standard neutral word for an ethnic Jew. Иудей /i.ud'éj/ means an adept of Judaism.

    P.S.: The word for circumcision is обрезание /obr'ezán'ije/, loaned from Church Slavonic, where it's calqued from the Classical languages.
     

    jazyk

    Senior Member
    Brazílie, portugalština
    In Czech: Jewish is židovský.
    Jew (man) is žid and Jewess (woman) is židovka.
    Circumcision is obřízka.

    It is the same in Slovak, but circumcision is obriezka.
     

    Panceltic

    Senior Member
    Slovenščina
    Slovenian:

    Žid (pl. Židje, fem. Židinja) and Jud (pl. Judje, fem. Judinja) are both acceptable. If you write them with a capital letter, they refer to the nation, with a small letter to the religinon. Most people don't know this. :D

    Circumcision is obreza (in the "metaphorical" sense as used in the Bible) or obrezovanje (in a concrete sense).
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    Macedonian:

    Евреин (Évrein) m.; Евреи (Évrei) pl.
    Еврејка (Évrejka) f.; Еврејки (Évrejki) pl.

    For circumcision, especially medical circumcision we use the word obreživanje but a lot of people associate it with the large Muslim population here and call it sunećenje
    Same in Macedonian. It is called обрежување (obrežúvanje), but because many people associate it with the Islam tradition, they call it сунет (súnet).
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    In Polish "circumcision" is "obrzezanie" [ˌɔbʒɛˈzãɲɛ].

    In terms of the Jews, the case is more complex.
    • A principal term for the Jew (a person) is "Żyd" [ʒɨt], refering both to ethnicity and to religion, a woman is "Żydówka"[ʒɨˈdufka], and the plural is Żydzi [žyʒ́i]
      • In a written language they should begin with an upper case letter when referring to the nationality, and a lower case letter when referring to the religion. However, I have an impression that some people treat the capital letter (or a lack of) as a sign of respect and use only lower case spelling regardless of context to deliberately demonstrate their lack of respect. Consequently, some people tend to hypercorrectly capitalise the word even in purely religious contexts, apparently to avoid accusations - at least in the internet.
      • The words can be used in all kinds of context, from admiration, through neutral to offensive and ethnic slur - with all consequences of misunderstandings, hypersensitivity, hypercorrectness, etc.
    • Other tribal names - Hebrajczyk, Judejczyk - are typically used in their proper biblical or historical contexts, but sometimes they are also used as synonyms for stylistic reasons, to avoid over-repeating one word. They do not carry the same emotional load as "Żyd", but unlike Russian and some other languages, there is no tendency to use one of them as a "neutral" or a "correct" name, and, in fact, are quite rare.
    • Izraelczyk can be used as well for the same purpose. It's also used - especially in plural - to refer to inhabitants of the state of Israel - whether the Jews or when ethnicity is not relevant, when it comes to national structures, army, government, football team, etc.
    • A new term was coined and becomes popular in certain groups recently, "Chazar" [ˈxazar]. Literally it means "Khazar", but because of the theory that East European Jews are actually descendants of Khazars converted to Judaism rather than of the true, Middle-East Jews, it's a convenient euphemism. Albeit it's not as emotionally loaded as the traditional term, because of its etymology it gets an additional flavour of an 'impostor'.
    • An adjective is "żydowski" [ʒɨˈdɔfski].
      • Albeit the word is often used in the neutral contexts as well, the adjective can get or give a negative spin much easier then the noun. Especially that the Polish grammar allows both adj-noun and noun-adj word order. In general the former tends to have a descriptive meaning, while the latter - is more like a classification. For example "muzyka żydowska" is a proper name of Jewish ethnic music (especially traditional), but "żydowska muzyka" sounds pejorative to me. This phenomenon is not specific nor limited to the Jews. Quite similarly, "muzyka ludowa" is a proper term for a traditional folk music, while "ludowa muzyka" could be used to give it a twist of something which is not even a proper music.
      • Either way, although using the adjective may be ok, especially when the context is proper, and the intentions are clear, but it may as well be walking on a thin ice.
     

    galakha

    Member
    Ukrainian
    I heard жид is considered highly offensive in Russian? How about in Ukrainian.
    It depends on where and by whom it's said. Of course, if someone today were to say "жид" on TV/radio, it would be definitely considered xenophobic. But the old people, especially in the villages, are most likely to use it as an ethnonym without an offensive connotation. Hrinchenko's dictionary, for example, which was published in 1907-09, has no entry for a word "єврей". So I think it's fair to say that in Ukrainian "жид" eventually became xenophobic under the Russian rule.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It depends on where and by whom it's said. Of course, if someone today were to say "жид" on TV/radio, it would be definitely considered xenophobic. But the old people, especially in the villages, are most likely to use it as an ethnonym without an offensive connotation.
    It may be the case in the Russian language of Ukraine, but it's hardly so in Russia.
     

    Diaspora

    Senior Member
    USA
    Serbocroatian, English
    It depends on where and by whom it's said. Of course, if someone today were to say "жид" on TV/radio, it would be definitely considered xenophobic. But the old people, especially in the villages, are most likely to use it as an ethnonym without an offensive connotation. Hrinchenko's dictionary, for example, which was published in 1907-09, has no entry for a word "єврей". So I think it's fair to say that in Ukrainian "жид" eventually became xenophobic under the Russian rule.
    It's strange how in Russian жид has become pejorative. As in many other Slavic languages it's either preferred or the only term.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It's strange how in Russian жид has become pejorative. As in many other Slavic languages it's either preferred or the only term.
    Жид was still neutral enough in the first half of the 19th century (you can find жидо́вка млада́я "young Jewess" in Lermontov's poetry, for example). However, it seems that official and literary language was preferring the Byblical terms (of Church Slavonic origin, ultimately from Greek); in the end one of those turned into an ethnic and another into a religious term (that distinction became quite consistent only in the early 20th century, though). Жид, on the other hand, became a colloquial term used by the lower classes, mostly in the western parts of the Empire (because Jewish presence on other territories was non-existent for legal reasons), with their long local traditions of antisemitism. So everything must have ultimately turned into "the educated capital vs. the antisemitic provinces" thing. Belarusian and Ukrainian are obviously influenced by Russian in that regard.
     
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    It's strange how in Russian жид has become pejorative. As in many other Slavic languages it's either preferred or the only term.
    This is indeed weird. I've been taught not to use "жид" for its pejorative connotation. It sill leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    As far as I'm concerned, "жид" can also mean "a very greedy person" at times. @Awwal12 might enlarge on this way better than me.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It can. A stereotypical Jew is stingy (the quality which was obviously despised in traditional Orthodox communities). Also the phonetic resemblance between жи́д and жа́дный "greedy" might have played its role; in fact, when they appear in unstressed positions -жид- and -жад- become simply homophonous in the standard Moscow pronunciation (cf. жиди́ться vs. жади́ться).
     

    marco_2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Жид was still neutral enough in the first half of the 19th century (you can find жидо́вка млада́я "young Jewess" in Lermontov's poetry, for example). However, it seems that official and literary language was preferring the Byblical terms (of Church Slavonic origin, ultimately from Greek); in the end one of those turned into an ethnic and another into a religious term (that distinction became quite consistent only in the early 20th century, though). Жид, on the other hand, became a colloquial term used by the lower classes, mostly in the western parts of the Empire.
    In Polish is quite opposite: when the Soviet authorities started editing Polish newspapers in Lviv in 1939-41, they suggested changing the word 'Żyd' into 'Jewrej', but it turned out to be a bomb, because it occured that Polish Jews called in such a way the Jews from Russia and it was considered to be an offensive term.
     
    In Polish is quite opposite: when the Soviet authorities started editing Polish newspapers in Lviv in 1939-41, they suggested changing the word 'Żyd' into 'Jewrej', but it turned out to be a bomb, because it occured that Polish Jews called in such a way the Jews from Russia and it was considered to be an offensive term.
    I am afraid I did not quite understand it. You are saying that Soviet Jews were called "Jewrej" while Polish ones were branded as "Zyd". However, when the Soviet authorities started to edit Polish newspapers, unifying the way to address Jews, it did not work out well because for Polish Jews the word "Jewrej" was more pejorative than "Zyd". Right?

    Or you are saying that Polish Jews simply did not want to be called as their Soviet relatives (so basically a rift between different Jews)?

    I'm all over the place. o_O
     

    marco_2

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I am afraid I did not quite understand it. You are saying that Soviet Jews were called "Jewrej" while Polish ones were branded as "Zyd". However, when the Soviet authorities started to edit Polish newspapers, unifying the way to address Jews, it did not work out well because for Polish Jews the word "Jewrej" was more pejorative than "Zyd". Right?

    Or you are saying that Polish Jews simply did not want to be called as their Soviet relatives (so basically a rift between different Jews)?

    I'm all over the place. o_O
    I guess for both reasons: this word (Jewrej) was used by Polish Jews before WW 1 to tease Russian Jews.
     

    jasio

    Senior Member
    Or you are saying that Polish Jews simply did not want to be called as their Soviet relatives (so basically a rift between different Jews)?
    As far as I am aware, there were - and still are - rifts between different Jews.

    For example the Jewish community living in the areas which are nowadays located in central Poland, was historically (ie. by 18th century, perhaps mid-19th century) quite well integrated with the Polish majority. Of course, they observed their distinct religion and traditions, they had their place in the layered society - higher than the peasants, lower than the nobles - and there were occasional conflicts, but it was all familiar and clear to all the parties. The local Jews, if they spoke a non-Jewish language - it was typically Polish or German.

    Then towards the end of 19th century the Russians decided to resettle the Jews from other parts of the empire to the western-most regions - which at the time was reaching as far as modern central Poland - what @Awwal12 was kind to refer as "Jewish presence on other territories was non-existent for legal reasons". However those people were quite alien to the local cultures; if they spoke any non-Jewish language it was Russian rather than Polish (sometimes as the first language), they did not understand the Polish catholic or protestant culture and mentality, because their former neighbours were orthodox Russians, they were perceived by the Poles as yet another tool for rusification, etc. To make a long story short - they were indeed different kind of Jews, alien to the local "Polish" Jews, not even mentioning the Poles - and their arrival ignited a lot of conflicts.

    The Soviet times added yet another complication, because the Jews were overrepresented in the Bolshevik party (as were some other minorities, in fact; and ethnic Russians were under-represented). The Soviet regime at the time resembled German nazi regime more than any modern country (apart for the systemic antysemitism), perhaps save North Korea. The Bolsheviks, being progressive international communists and atheists, aimed at the global labour revolution while perceiving traditional societies, based on religion or ethnicity, as backwards - including the Jews living in Poland, who were mostly traditional and religious. So the Polish and the Soviet Jews did not have many reasons to like or respect each other in any way - especially that @marco_2 referred to Soviet officers of Jewish origin, rather than to the private persons.

    It's damn complex and difficult to understand for modern people because we tend to apply our modern mental maps to the past times, and it simply does not work. Never the less, I hope that albeit it's a simplification, it sheds some light without starting a flame-war.
     
    As far as I am aware, there were - and still are - rifts between different Jews.

    For example the Jewish community living in the areas which are nowadays located in central Poland, was historically (ie. by 18th century, perhaps mid-19th century) quite well integrated with the Polish majority. Of course, they observed their distinct religion and traditions, they had their place in the layered society - higher than the peasants, lower than the nobles - and there were occasional conflicts, but it was all familiar and clear to all the parties. The local Jews, if they spoke a non-Jewish language - it was typically Polish or German.

    Then towards the end of 19th century the Russians decided to resettle the Jews from other parts of the empire to the western-most regions - which at the time was reaching as far as modern central Poland - what @Awwal12 was kind to refer as "Jewish presence on other territories was non-existent for legal reasons". However those people were quite alien to the local cultures; if they spoke any non-Jewish language it was Russian rather than Polish (sometimes as the first language), they did not understand the Polish catholic or protestant culture and mentality, because their former neighbours were orthodox Russians, they were perceived by the Poles as yet another tool for rusification, etc. To make a long story short - they were indeed different kind of Jews, alien to the local "Polish" Jews, not even mentioning the Poles - and their arrival ignited a lot of conflicts.

    The Soviet times added yet another complication, because the Jews were overrepresented in the Bolshevik party (as were some other minorities, in fact; and ethnic Russians were under-represented). The Soviet regime at the time resembled German nazi regime more than any modern country (apart for the systemic antysemitism), perhaps save North Korea. The Bolsheviks, being progressive international communists and atheists, aimed at the global labour revolution while perceiving traditional societies, based on religion or ethnicity, as backwards - including the Jews living in Poland, who were mostly traditional and religious. So the Polish and the Soviet Jews did not have many reasons to like or respect each other in any way - especially that @marco_2 referred to Soviet officers of Jewish origin, rather than to the private persons.

    It's damn complex and difficult to understand for modern people because we tend to apply our modern mental maps to the past times, and it simply does not work. Never the less, I hope that albeit it's a simplification, it sheds some light without starting a flame-war.
    It was indeed interesting to read because I don't really know much about your part of the world to say the least.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Евреин m.; Евреи pl.
    Еврейка f.; Еврейки pl.

    I used Nimak's template because it was quite convenient :) Stress on second syllable.

    We say обрязване [obrYAzvane]. And, of course, we do understand and use сюнет.
     

    nimak

    Senior Member
    Macedonian
    I used Nimak's template because it was quite convenient :)
    And you made a mistake, because in Bulgarian you don't use an upper case letter when referring to nationalities and ethnic groups. ;)

    As far as I know, in the Bulgarian language for "Jews" is also used the name жидове (židove). Maybe in pejorative context only?

    In Macedonian there doesn't exist any term for "Jews" starting with жид- (žid-).
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    And you made a mistake, because in Bulgarian you don't use an upper case letter when referring to nationalities and ethnic groups. ;)
    Ah, quite right, quite right. Did not even notice it and if I had I would have thought it was capitalised accidentally. :)
    As far as I know, in the Bulgarian language for "Jews" is also used the name жидове (židove).
    Rings a very distant bell. Barely. Must be some temporary borrowing from Russian (my theory) which never gained currency and is today hopelessly old-fashioned. Must have read it long ago in some old Russian book translated into Bulgarian. Perhaps it is the translation of Russian books that still keeps it alive. I am absolutely positive that today's young people will not recognise it as part of our language.
    Although, lookie here:
    Жид (пояснение) – Уикипедия

    Maybe in pejorative context only?
    Oh, yes. That is how I feel it, yes.
     

    DarkChild

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Жид is certainly not a very common word and it's pejorative. A more common pejorative is чифут but that too isn't widely used. According to Wiki, it comes from Albanian.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    The word "жид" (ru: [ʐɨt] , uk: [ʒɪd] can be offensive in Ukraine as well due to the Russian influence, although, it's given a second chance again but caution is still required in conversations because Russian is spoken/known everywhere in Ukraine. Ukrainian "єврей" [jeu̯ˈrɛi̯] is neutral but may be considered a Russianism - from Russian "еврей" [jɪˈvrʲej] . There you go :)

    Belarusian "жыд" [ʐɨt] is perceived the same way in Belarus as it is in Russian - offensive. Well, the Belarusian language is being revived by the opposition media, so this may change.

    Belarusian words "яўрэй" [jau̯ˈrej] and "габрэй" [ɣaˈbrej] (Taraškievica or classical Belarusian orthography) are cognates of the Russian "єврей", so these are not offensive.

    Feminine forms:
    жидо́вка (ru/uk for "жид")
    жыдо́ўка (be for "жыд")
    "євре́йка" (uk)
    "евре́йка" (ru)
    "яўрэ́йка" (be)
    "габрэ́йка" (be, Taraškievica)

    Plurals of "жид" and "жыд" are stressed on the ending:
    жиды́ (ru)
    жиди́ (uk)
    жыды́ (be)
    But these retain the stress the stem stress:
    евре́и (ru)
    євре́ї (be)
    яўрэ́і (be)
    габрэ́і (be, Taraškievica)

    The declension in the singular is different between Russian on one side and Ukrainian/Belarusian on the other side are different. Russian "жид" is "b" stress pattern, so that the stress is always on the ending, which is not the case in Ukrainian/Belarusian (type "c").

    Compare Ukrainian/Belarusian genitive singular жи́да/жы́да with the Russian жида́

    In case it wasn't mentioned, Polish Żyd/Żydówka, Czech/Slovak Žid/Židovka are perfectly normal terms for Jews.
     
    Last edited:

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The declension in the singular is different between Russian on one side and Ukrainian/Belarusian on the other side are different. Russian "жид" is "b" stress pattern, so that the stress is always on the ending, which is not the case in Ukrainian/Belarusian (type "c").
    In my experience the type B is generally much more rare in Ukrainian and Belarusian, so I am not sure if it was worth mentioning. In fact, it is/was less frequent even in South Russian dialects.
     

    Eirwyn

    Member
    Russian
    It should be noticed that apart from second declension male nouns, standard Russian also tends to abandon the type "b" in favor of paradigms that preserve the same stress for all forms of the same number.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    In my experience the type B is generally much more rare in Ukrainian and Belarusian, so I am not sure if it was worth mentioning. In fact, it is/was less frequent even in South Russian dialects.
    I disagree. Type B is very common in Ukrainian, even for words, where some Russian equivalents would be type "a" - баран, бур'ян, будівник, двигун, літак, татусь, робітник, сірник, страх, that's why it's more of an interest. Belarusian is very similar with Russian in stress patterns but they have less subtypes.
     
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