Tuesday, May 27, 2008

spelling issue

So here is something that I have been dealing with for a while, and I have to make a decision about, but I am torn. Any thoughts on this matter are appreciated.

Because of the way Yiddish phonology works, my last name is spelled with two ayyins in it (tzadi ayyin resh mem ayyin resh). My grandfather spells his name with two ayyins, as does one of his two sons. However, my generation is somewhat split. Some of us have dropped the ayyins in order to be in line with the Hebrew spelling (tzadi resh mem resh). The name, I believe, derives from a Yiddish word, so it makes sense to keep the Yiddish spelling. Though the Yiddish origins are a bit obscure. But I am not particularly fond of the Yiddish spelling, and when pronounced with ayyins as a Hebrew word, it sounds a bit bizarre. The word in Hebrew would be meaningless.

Keeping one ayyin as a compromise strikes me as a bit dumb, as it is the worst of both worlds.

I have no interest in actually changing the name, but I am torn over keeping or dropping the ayyins. Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

hmmm....tough decision. But if the historical spelling is rendered meaningless in modern Hebrew and would leave you always explaining, it's probably better to drop the ayyins. On the other hand, I think preserving the name's Yiddishness does matter in a world where Yiddish is becoming more and more obsolete.


In the end, I suppose you should go with what you like or you'll be annoyed by the spelling on all your official records. And with the modern spelling you'd maintain the meaning of the name in Hebrew and those who speak and spell in Yiddish would still understand it, right? So that seems like a good compromise.

Good luck!


Little Rose's Daddy said...

If it were important for the kesuvah, I would say keep with the yiddish spelling. Otherwise, I would first ask your father if it really matters to him how it is spelled. If not, go with personal preference. People change the spelling of last names all the time.

bec said...

i would definitely leave it as a way to honor your grandfather and his father and those who passed the last name down through the family. one day when you're a grandfather and your grandkids ask you about it, you can tell them how this name has passed on from generation to generation and what it has been through, unchanged.

Anonymous said...

3 Jews, 3 opinions.
Thanks. Are last names on Ketubot?
Also, my father and grandfather spell it differently from each other, my father dropped the ayyins. I am sure my father doesn't care how I spell our last name.

Also, every now and then I actually think of changing my last name entirely, as I am not very nostalgic about these things, and I feel that any history can include the name change as another episode in my family.


PS, I just had a talit bag embroidered in Hebrew and dropped the ayyins. That is not much of a commitment, but I suppose it is a start.

(Also, on my mother's side, her three brothers spell their last name in a few different ways in English, but that does not impact me.)

sl said...

Karl, this is actually my first post on your blog because this is an area that I feel vehemently about - DO NOT DROP THE AYYINS. As you know, the yiddish spelling of my last name has two ayyins as well, and Israelis are fond of telling me that it's spelled incorrectly. But as a lover of the yiddish language (which I know you are too) and as someone proud of my ancestral heritage, I refuse to drop them!