Yiddish: אַ שטיין/פֿאַרשטיין קען וואַקסן

Forero

Senior Member
USA English
Yes, this is from the song טום־באַלאַלײַקע.

I have two questions:

1. What does it mean? (The stones in caves grow only with water, so what kind of shteyn is meant?)

2. Would פֿאַרשטיין make sense here, or would it need to be something like פֿאַרשטענדעניש?
 
  • duvija

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Uruguay
    A stone/ understanding may grow.
    I believe it's something like 'even a stone may grow if 'it/she' understands.'
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Hi, Duvija. And thank you for responding.

    Most of the lyrics sources for this song have the words as "אַ שטיין קען וואַקסן, וואַקסן אָן רעגן" but one website I found says "אַ שטיין" may be a mondegreen for "פֿאַרשטיין" though nobody sings it that way. I was just wondering if either "A shteyn kan vaksn on regn" or "Farshteyn kan vaksn on regn" makes sense at all.

    I love the rest of the song, and it makes a lot of sense to me. And I would like to understand the vaksn on regn part too:

    Vos ken vaksn, vaksn on regn? A shteyn. (or should it be Farshteyn?)
    Vos ken brenen un nisht oyfhern? Libe.
    Vos ken benken, veynen on trern? A harts.
    Vos iz hekher fun a hoyz? A koymen.
    Vos iz flinker fun a moyz? A kats.
    Vos iz tifer fun a kval? Di Toyre.
    Vos iz biter, bitrer vi gal? Der Toyt.
     

    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    I believe its A shteyn ken vaksn, vaksn on regn.
    Yiddish is a mix of hebrew,german,english and a bit russian; Farshteyn is two-words-combined - far is fire, shteyn is stein is rock.
    Now, if farshteyn, it can be lava,coals.
    Do you know the lyrics and their meaning, because a shteyn makes more sense after reading the translated lyrics[and i read both hebrew and english].
    Perhaps a german could help too, as they influenced yiddish the most.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumbalalaika
    It has the lyrics right there.
     

    StinaMT

    Member
    German - Swiss
    I’ve no knowledge at all of Yiddish.

    But “a stone, growing with water in a cave” reminds me very much of stalagmites and stalactites.

    Does this make sense?
     

    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Did you guys read the lyrics? Its not in a cave, its a stone. What can grow, grow without rain, to which she answers stone can grow,grow without rain.
    You missed the point of this song...
     

    duvija

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Uruguay
    Yes, it's 'grow without rain'. I also believe it's 'a stone' but 'farshtein' would be a nice idea (albeit it had to be nominalized first). And there is no 'cave ' anywhere in the song.
    (Just in case, Yiddish is not 'a mix of...' even if it looks this way.)
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Most of the lyrics sources for this song have the words as "אַ שטיין קען וואַקסן, וואַקסן אָן רעגן" but one website I found says "אַ שטיין" may be a mondegreen for "פֿאַרשטיין" though nobody sings it that way. I was just wondering if either "A shteyn kan vaksn on regn" or "Farshteyn kan vaksn on regn" makes sense at all.
    I can't really see any ambiguity in the sentence which, as arielipi and duvija said, means
    A stone can grow, grow without rain.

    I love the rest of the song, and it makes a lot of sense to me. And I would like to understand the vaksn on regn part too:

    Vos ken vaksn, vaksn on regn? A shteyn. (or should it be Farshteyn?)
    Here it says the same thing:
    What can grow, grow without rain? A stone.

    Compare to the logic of the other lines:
    Vos ken brenen un nisht oyfhern? Libe.
    Vos ken benken, veynen on trern? A harts.
    Vos iz hekher fun a hoyz? A koymen.
    Vos iz flinker fun a moyz? A kats.
    Vos iz tifer fun a kval? Di Toyre.
    Vos iz biter, bitrer vi gal? Der Toyt.
    What can burn and not stop? Love.
    What can long/yearn/suffer, cry without tears? A heart.
    What is higher than a house? A chimney.
    What is faster than a mouse? A cat.
    What is deeper than a source/spring/well? The Torah.
    What is bitter, bitter as bile? The death.


    EDIT: Forero, I know, you can read German perfectly. I'll give you a translation to German with the correct cognates (except fun which I will translate as als as the translation von wouldn't make sense). That might help you to understand the individual words, especially the vaksn on regn part which you expressly asked for:

    Was kann wachsen, wachsen ohne Regen? Ein Stein.
    Was kann brennen und nicht aufhören? Liebe.
    Was kann bangen, weinen ohne Tränen? Ein Herz.
    Was ist höher als ein Haus? Ein Kamin.
    Was ist flinker als eine Maus? Eine Katze.
    Was ist tiefer als eine Quelle? Die Torah.
    Was ist bitter, bitter wie Galle? Der Tod.
     
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    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Note yourself that stone in hebrew is used to describe a cold-hearted person- meaning, he is not very nice and such...
     

    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    Farshteyn is two-words-combined - far is fire, shteyn is stein is rock.
    No, this has nothing to do with a stone, fire stone would be פֿײַערשטיין.

    פֿאַרשטיין is a verb: far- is a prefix (an intensifier) and steyn means to stand. The whole verb means to understand. Etymologically, farshteyn is derived from German verstehen=to understand and is the same as English to forstand which in dialectal speech can also mean to understand.
     
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    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Yes, it's 'grow without rain'. I also believe it's 'a stone' but 'farshtein' would be a nice idea (albeit it had to be nominalized first). And there is no 'cave ' anywhere in the song.
    (Just in case, Yiddish is not 'a mix of...' even if it looks this way.)
    Are you saying "(dos) farshteyn" could work, or would it have to take a different form?

    I am also curious if Yiddish has a word for "understanding" that means "emphathy"/"ability to really listen" rather than "intelligence"/"grasp".

    And if "a shteyn" is really what is meant, am I off track to keep thinking about a geological explanation? Is the meaning something obvious, or is the answer meant to be as mysterious as the question?
     
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    berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    The Yiddish word for the second bitter here is the comparative, equivalent to bittrer, but then why the switch from fun (= als?) to vi?
    Sorry, I did overlook the comparative ending. I have no idea why there is a switch. I have no idea why you would use fun (=of, from, by, cognate to German von) with the comparative in the first place so I can't tell you why not in this case. But I wouldn't put interpret too much into it. There are many variations of the lyrics. This one, e.g., uses far (cognate to German vor).
     

    arielipi

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    Perhaps it is influenced by hebrew/english there, as we would say hes cold as a stone/ hes got feelings of a stone(=like a stone); Meaning hes emotionless, and 'frozen' people can grow frozenier on nothing, look at depressed/agonied people. Post #5 even strengthens this view.
     
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