Saturday, June 21, 2014

גאָטעניו, בין איך נאָר אַ משולח עפֿשער אַ לערערין פֿון צײַט צו צײַט, און אַ טרײסלער.  לאָז מיך זיך באַטרעפֿן

I'm not translating most of this, in keeping with my use of Yiddish in my art as my hidden journals, and "making lace", using the Hebrew alphabet as a visual component.  

But the last sentence, loz mikh zikh batrefn, which I have stretched to mean, Let me fulfill myself, has engendered a very interesting conversation about the meaning of the word batrefn.

My Yiddish is far from perfect, but my thoughts are: The word "to meet" is trefn.  The word batrefn means "to amount to", as in: this pile of gold amounts to a lot of money.  The word zikh is reflexive. One day a friend in a Yiddish class organized a trip to a Yiddish movie, to meet there at 3, and he wrote, lomir zikh batrefn 3 a zeyger.  I thought it should read, lomir zikh trefn 3 a zeyger, let's meet at 3 o'clock, but I ran to the dictionary, and said, Yes! Let's amount to ourselves at 3 o'clock!  I've since used the term over and over, that I might zikh batrefn.  It has become a mantra.

I'd like also to include a wonderful work by my dear friend Johanna Gilman, who reports that her mother use batrefn to mean "meet".