Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

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guyome
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:08 am

Lawyer&Mom wrote:(...) Truly universal stuff.
Sadly true.
There is also a lot of this around Occitan. Every topic seems to have the potential to turn into a minefield: the name of the language, the number of speakers, the spelling, the quality of the language spoken in bilingual schools, etc. While all these topics are interesting (and some, like the quality of the language, are in my opinion fundamental), it becomes clear at some point that most of the times the debates are marred by half truths, personal attacks and the like. Better to move on and actually studying/using the language.
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Mon Jan 20, 2020 12:48 pm

I couldn't devote much time to languages this week because of a family event. Still, I managed to squeeze in some Occitan and some Manchu before the weekend.

Occitan
I completed lesson 26 of the Assimil course. Nothing special going on there, lessons 22-28 are mostly about introducing the future tense. Apart from the fact that I'd like the course to provide slightly more practice with conjugations, I find it well done. It's one of the new Assimil courses so the lessons are rather shorter than in earlier Assimil books. I have seen complaints about that ("Assimil dumbing down the contents") but, having used Assimil courses from various eras, I can't say I agree with these critics. The older courses can become a bit overwhelming really early on; shorter lessons make for more manageable learning chunks. If the course is really too slow, it is always possible to quicken the pace, while I have found it less practical to divide longer lessons into shorter units.
Same goes for vocabulary. The new courses may teach less words, but that means more time to actually learn them. I don't really care how many words a course teaches since for me it's all about how well it teaches them. Throwing tons of new words in one lesson and never repeating them later is not something that works for me.

Apart from Assimil, I did some reading. Some online material in Languedocian, but also a few short, facetious stories published during the 1920-30s in the newspaper La Provence: the Petado de Bartoumieu. They're not exactly hilarious but they're exactly what I need now: short, easy to understand and full of everyday speech. There's around 150 of them, which should keep me occupied for a couple of weeks.

Manchu
Still on part 3 of the Nogeoldae. I learned about different types of wells, taking care of horses, where not to poop, etc. The merchants are back on the road so I expect new gripping developments soon.

Yiddish
Listened to a couple of talks uploaded by the YBC. One of them about Yiddish in Israel before the mid-19th c. by Eugene Orenstein, the other by David Roskies about The Autobiographical "I": the genre from Glikl of Hameln until Jacob Glatstein and Yehiel Yeshaya Trunk. Interesting stuff, which is not always the case with these old Montreal talks where it sometimes seems that the speaker goes on and on but not much is said.
Also listened to a short story taken from the audiobook version of Isaac Bashevis Singer's Mayn tatns beys-din shtub.
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Fri Jan 24, 2020 3:14 pm

Occitan

Just wanted to share a nice song I listened to recently. It is a a "song of lies", a type of song that can/could be found all over the Occitan speaking Alps and also further up north in the Francoprovençal speaking regions (or so a quick google search tells me).
The basic structure is that each first verse describes a rather common and normal situation but is immediately followed by an event that doesn't make sense in the context.

The version I link to comes from Nice and is thus in Nissart, a dialect I'm not very familiar with (that, plus my attempt at writing a transcription in Classical spelling, may account for possible mistakes).


Vous vau canta una cançon, (bis)
La cançon dei mensouònegai,
E lantin e lanton
E lanterna la la, (bis)
La cançon dei mensouònegai

I'm going to sing you a song, (bis)
The song of lies,
E lantin e lanton
E lanterna la la,
The song of lies

Mas se saupessi que li auguesse una verita,
Sèri content que mi talhan la gòrja

But would I know that there were something true in it,
I'd be happy to have my throat cut

Ai passat sota d'un carobier,
N'èra cargat de souòrbas

I walked under a carob tree,
It was laden with whitty pears

Ai pensat autar mon bastonet,
N'a calat de cogordas

I thought of rising my short stick,
Gourds fell from it

Me'n a calat una sul pen,
L'aurelha mi sanguena

One fell on my foot,
My ear bled

Ai vorgut anar au festin,
Èra una fièra rota

I wanted to go to the Patronal feast,
It was a broken(=bad?) fair

(The opposition here is between the festin, which is a festive event linked to the parish/village Saint, and the fair, a commercial event)

Ai pensat mi crompar un chivau
Èra una sauma rossa

I thought I was buying a horse,
It was a red she-ass

Ai vorgut mi crompar un bast,
Èra una conca rota

I wanted to to buy a packsaddle,
It was a broken basin

Courre mai l'ae per rivas
Que lou souleu per couòlas

The donkey runs on the banks more
than the sun on the hills
Some characteristics of the Nissart dialect can be heard: final -a pronounced [a] instead of [o] (also in some Vivaro-Alpine dialects), diphthongization of Standard -ò- into -ouò- (I've seen it also in Maritime Provençal from Aix-en-Provence/Marseille, as -oua- though, and in Vivaro-Alpine), pronouns are mi/ti/si instead of me/te/se (also something seen in Maritime Provençal).
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:38 am

Manchu
Finished part 4 (out of 8) of the Nogeoldae: the Korean merchant and his friends from Liaodong city have finally reached Beijing (a fitting climax to end the first half of the book with)! Apart from having to convince a reluctant landlord to let them sleep in, not much happened to them on the way. Book 4 ends on part of the group being sent ahead to Beijing in order to check for lodgings. The landlord they talk to is a bit grumpy and not very willing to help (a distant relative of the infamous Parisian waiter?):
- Diyan boihoji age! Be juleri tatara boo be tuwame jihe. Gucuse amala morin be bošome gajifi sini diyan de tataki sembi.
- Suwe uheri udu niyalma, udu morin?
- Be uheri duin niyalma, juwan morin.
- Sejen bio?
- Sejen akū.
- Uttu oci, tatacina. Tere dergi dalbade emu giyalan i untuhun boo bi. Si tuwaname gene.
- Si mimbe yarume gamafi tuwanaki.
- Ekšeme(?) sinde gucu arame genere šolo akū. Si emhun tuwana.
- Bi tubade genefi boo be tuwarengge hono ajige baita. Neneme sini baru emu gisun be hebešeme gisureki: sini ere boode membe tatabuci jeterengge be adarame gisurembi?
- Meni diyan i niyalma ere ucuri gemu tucifi genehebi. Jeterengge be dagilara niyalma yargiyan i akū. Adase suwe beye buda arame jefu.
- Be buda arame jeci ombi. Mucen, lakiyakū hacuhan, nere, moro, fila gemu bio?
- Gemu bi. Si mujilen be sulaka sinda.
- Uttu oci meni gucu be okdome genere. Mini genehe amala ere boode baitalara jaka be yooni gemu benjibu.

- Mr. Landlord! We have come ahead to look at the inn. Our friends will bring the horses later and want to stay in your inn.
- How many people, how many horses in all?
- Four people, ten horses in all.
- Any carts?
- No carts.
- If so, be my guest. There is an empty room on the eastern side. Go have a look.
- Show me the way and go have a look.
- I'm in a hurry, I have no time to be your friend and go there. Go have a look on your own.
- My going there and having a look is not important. First, let's discuss one thing: if we stay at your place, what about food?
- At the moment, all my staff has gone out. There is no one to get food ready. Prepare and eat your meals yourselves.
- We can do that. Is everything there: caldron, hanging pot, cooking hole/prop for pot, bowls, and plates?
- Everything is there. Don't worry.
- If so, we'll go meet our friends. After we're gone, have everything sent to this room.

Occitan
Another slow week as far as Assimil is concerned, I only managed to make it to lesson 29. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- the lessons are getting slightly longer
- I spend more time reviewing past lessons (mainly listening over and over)
- more reading/listening beside Assimil
I'm thinking of starting the active wave tomorrow, to get a firmer grip on previous lessons.

I'm still reading the Pétado de Bartoumieu in the newspaper La Provence, these 1920/1930s short stories/jokes are good reading material. "Only" 150 of them were published in La Provence but I discovered that the author published many more in Le Petit Var, which luckily has also been digitalized. The stories are not riveting but at least I won't run out of material (should I decide to keep reading them). On the other hand, I have bought some books and may branch out to these soon, unless I find them too hard.

I listened to an interview with Joan Ganhaire, writer of several books in Occitan. Interesting to hear about his linguistic background and views on his writings. I have one of his crime novels and will give it a try in the near future.
The preface of the book (not written by Joan Ganhaire) mentions that some people complained about Ganhaire writing in an Occitan that is not standard enough, too obviously dialectal (Ganhaire writes in the Limousin dialect).
That's a topic I've already seen mentioned a couple of times here and there, and one I'd like to come back to at some point. For now, suffice it to say that while I can understand the push for some standardisation of the language in some contexts (teaching, administration, journalism maybe), I can't understand the weird fetishism some people have about wanting everyone to use a unified Occitan/Breton/etc.
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:54 pm

Occitan
A song in Gascon written by Nadau, sung by Vox Bigerri, and filmed in the gorgeous village of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges:
Be n’èi ua gran tristessa (2x), aulhèr,
I am really sad (2x), shepherd,

Era se n’ei anada, a jo me’n sap mau lo còr,
She is gone, my heart is aching,

E ò, a jo me’n sap mau lo còr,
Eh oh, my heart is aching,

Per tota la montanha (2x), aulhèr,
All over the mountain, shepherd,

La nèu non n’ei tan blanca e los ausèths que m’an páur,
The snow is not as white and birds fear me,

E ò, e los ausèths que m’an páur,
Eh oh, and birds fear me,

Mon Diu, quina sofrença (2x), aulhèr,
My God, what a pain (2x), shepherd,

Tan la nueit com lo dia, solet autan com un hòu,
Both night and day, alone like a madman,

E ò, solet autan com un hòu,
Eh oh, alone like a madman,

Non la tornarèi véder (2x), aulhèr,
I won't see her again (2x), shepherd,

De la vita sancèra, jo que’n portarèi lo dòu.
My whole life, I'll mourn her.

E ò, jo que’n portarèi lo dòu (2x).
Eh oh, I'll mourn her.
Some Gascon characteristics: particles like que (assertory) and be (exclamatory/reinforcement); dia for "day" (jorn elsewhere); sancèra for "full/entire/whole" (entièra elsewhere); final -th as in ausèths "birds" (-l/-u elsewhere); ua "a/one" (una elswhere); véder "to see" (véser/veire elsewhere); maybe also the future endings -èi (I've only seen -ai elsewhere so far); similarly èi "I have" (ai elsewhere), which would make sense since the future endings are just the verb "to have" stuck to the infinitive (same thing happened in French and goes back to late Latin).
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Fri Jan 31, 2020 9:46 pm

Well that was incredibly beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Sat Feb 01, 2020 10:10 am

I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did, Lawyer&Mom! There is a rich tradition of polyphonic singing in the Gascon and Basque speaking areas, which I'm only beginning to discover. I'll probably post more of these in the future.

January in review
I joined the forum just a month ago and I'm glad I did. The log sort of keeps me accountable, and I enjoy sharing things I read about or listen to. During the past 31 days, I moved from lesson 14 to lesson 31 of Assimil L'occitan, which is slightly less than I had planned to but that doesn't worry me too much. I know you're supposed to do one lesson a day and not worry about the material sticking, but I prefer spending a bit more time and learning more thoroughly (I have to fight the urge to master everything perfectly before moving on though). There is also the fact that I spend a lot of time with material outside of the Assimil course, which is both very useful for reinforcement and necessary to maintain motivation. So, all in all I'm rather satisfied of this month of intensive Occitan!
Manchu is the second language I spent most of my time on in January. The Nogeoldae is only part of what I read but having it as a base text is good. I can feel that I'm getting my reading ability back.
Nothing special happened with Yiddish, I mostly listened to talks. I should probably try and find time for some reading too.
Latin took a back seat and will probably stay there for quite some time now. I love the language but I am sometimes annoyed at how much time is necessary to just maintain it to a high reading level. Other languages feel so much easier to keep fresh. This is, I guess, due in part to the lack of audio material but even Manchu (which I spent much, much less time studying) feels easier to maintain at a high level without audio. It may have to do with Latin's much more complex syntax, the wider range of topics and vocabulary it offers when you read texts from Plautus to the 21st c., I don't know.

Occitan
On lesson 31 of Assimil, nothing special, this series of lessons is devoted to introducing the present subjunctive.

I have started reading a translation of some Sherlock Holmes short stories. I chose the book because I'm very familiar with the original and it seems to be written in a rather standard Languedocian dialect. Not that I don't want to read in other dialects (I've actually read more Provençal I think) but I thought that I could use as much hand-holding as possible for my first book-length read. So here it is: enjoyable, familiar stories, and a dialect that is close/identical to what Assimil teaches, what could go wrong?

Besides that, I've noticed over the last few days that my feeling when reading Occitan has shifted a bit. Before that, it was "Hey, I can understand a lot! How cool is that?!", regardless of how much I didn't understand. Now that I understand more, my reaction is more "Hey, there is a couple words I don't know on this page! This is unacceptable!" :-) I remember the same thing happening with other languages: first a phase where even 50/60% comprehension leaves you very happy, and then another phase where even 80/90% feels too low.
So nothing to worry about there, this will solve itself as long as I keep reading/listening, especially since Assimil looks quite good at introducing useful vocabulary so far. Just yesterday, I was reading the Sherlock Holmes translation and one of the character stringed together things like n'ai un sadol/me'n chauti/n'ai un confle, all of which I was introduced to by Assimil (the last two in the same lesson).

Manchu
Started reading part 4 of the Nogeoldae, which I'll probably have finished tomorrow.
17th c. merchant pro-tip: if you've traveled with horses you want to sell, wait for a few days after arriving at your destination. It will give them time to fatten up again a bit and you'll get a higher price for them.
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Thu Feb 06, 2020 7:05 pm

Some things to do last weekend and some health problems afterwards mean I didn't do as much as I wanted to. Still, I'm quite happy with how things went during the last few days.

Occitan
On lesson 33 of Assimil. Really wish that there were a bit more practice with verbal forms but otherwise fine. Since there are no FSI-type drills for Occitan (that is, none that I know of), I'll have to find something to get more directed input.

I read two of the Sherlock Holmes stories I mentioned in the post above. So far I'm quite pleased with my level of understanding and the speed with which I read (being familiar with the content helps a lot of course). In one of the stories (The Speckled Band), the barba of Holmes is mentioned twice, which surprised me since I was pretty sure Holmes never sported a beard. Turns out, Occitan barba can mean 'beard' (French 'barbe', which is how I recognized the word) but also 'chin'!
Somewhere else, the translator added something to the original. When Miss Stoner describes her predicament, she says:
"Alas!" replied our visitor, "the very horror of my situation lies in the fact that my fears are so vague, and my suspicions depend so entirely upon small points, which might seem trivial to another, that even he to whom of all others I have a right to look for help and advice looks upon all that I tell him about it as the fancies of a nervous woman.
Which the translator has rendered as,
Ailàs, respondèt nòstra visitaira, l'orror de ma situacion ven del fach que mas crentas son tan foscas e mos sospièches son basats entièrament sus de pichons detalhs. Per qualqu'un mai aquestes detalhs semblarián ordinaris, e mai per lo qu'ai lo drech de li demandar ajuda e conselhs, valent a dire, mon pairastre. Aqueste pensa que tot çò que li disi son pas que de fantasiás de femna ernhosa.
The translator has slightly modified the structure of the sentence but, more importantly, he has also added the text in bold: "that is to say, my stepfather". I noticed it immediately because I've read the story many times and in my mind, "he to whom of all others I have a right to look for help and advice" always referred to Miss Stoner's fiancé, not her stepfather.
Anyway, this also interested me because the French equivalent of the word pairastre ("parâtre", with ^ lengthening the vowel and indicating a lost "s") is more or less out of use today (at least, I never heard or even read it I think), while its female counterpart "marâtre" only survives in fairy tales and has taken on a pejorative meaning, the stepmother invariably being an evil character. Like barba above, the pair mairastre/marâtre is a good reminder that even if words may be the same across two languages, they are often, well, not the same.


Manchu
Finished reading parts 4 and 5 of the Nogeoldae. Lots of haggling because the merchants are selling horses, buying silk and a bow.
Except for long lists of goods (various types of horses and silk), I find the dialogues really well done and quite lively:
- Beri uncara puseli dalaha age! Uncara sain beri bio?
- Cohome beri uncara puseli neifi sain beri akū oci aibe hūdašambi? Si ere suwayan alan alaha beri be gajifi uli tabu.
- Bi tatame tuwaki. Mangga oci, udambi.
- Age, teni tabuha beri elhei tata.
- Sain beri oci, ainu tatara de gelembi? Ara! Ere beri jafakū dahambi! Tatara de umesi icakū.

- Mr. Boss-of-the-bow-selling shop! Are there good bows for sale?
- If I especially open a bow shop and do not have any good bow, what would I trade in? Take this yellow birch wrapped bow and put the bowstring in the notch.
- I'll try and draw it, and if the draw weight is high, I'll buy it.
- Just go easy on the wrapped bow, Mr.
- If this is a good bow, why are you afraid of me drawing it? Hey, the handle has come off! [? lit. 'followed'] When drawing, that's very unpleasant.


Yiddish
A good week for Yiddish reading. Some satirical/funny short stories by Moyshe Nadir and the beginning of a novel in which the narrator is a dead Jew who lies buried in a non-Jewish cemetery (Volf Tambur, Lebedike Meysim [Living Dead], 1976). So far, it is a good read, maybe it will develop into something like the Irish classic Cré na Cille?
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:50 am

Yiddish
Over the last couple of days, I read a lot more than in the past few months, which felt really good.
I enjoy Tambur's Lebedike Meysim. The main character so far is one Zelikovitsh who finds, to his surprise, that he has been buried in a non-Jewish military cemetery. Since the dead souls can travel by night (not by day), he has various conversations with other "white crows" (people like him who have a peculiar story) and learns a bit (sometimes a lot) about their lives, deaths, ideas, as well as how the world of souls functions.
Tambur often makes use a kind of 'suspense' narrative technique where Zelikovitsh meets a soul, chats, and is introduced to someone else who has another story to tell (in the following chapter), and so on. So far, he has met with another Jew (ashamed of being one) buried in the same non-Jewish cemetery, with Yankev (=Jacob) Shtern in a Jewish cemetery (fled Europe because he was accused of having impregnated a girl, went to Israel as pioneer, lived in a kibbutz, went back to Europe because of attacks, died during WWII but not at the hands of the nazis), and Shor (cheated on by his wife but took her back still). Next in line is Motye Kopman, another "white crow" (had a non-Jewish wife when alive, but that's apparently not why is is considered a "white crow").

I also read, among other things, a few short, humorous stories about Barni der melamed ('Barney the Hebrew teacher'). Barni is a melamed in America (the stories were published in book form in New-York in 1914) and has to deal with young pupils who are not very interested in what he has to teach. He tries various techniques to get them interested but from what I've seen so far, he is mostly unsuccessful.
The stories delight me in no small part because of their linguistic richness. They are written in Yiddish, but Barni's Yiddish is infused with many English words and expressions. Hebrew also comes into play because Barni's main job is to teach pupils to read the Bible. He does so in the traditional way, by following the Hebrew text and providing word-by-word Yiddish translations, but he often translates things in an unconventional modern Americanised way, in order to keep the students interested.
So, fun reading material if only because of the playful use of language(s), but behind those loom the old and important topics of assimilation, transmission, etc., which are so important in Yiddish literature and Jewish history.


Occitan
Occitan has suffered from having to compete with Yiddish for my undivided attention. Still, I managed to get done with another series of Assimil lessons. The present subjunctive will take some time to become second nature but all in all it is not very different from its Latin counterpart: 1st conjugation verbs exchange their trademark -a- vowel for -e- (canta>cante, cantam>cantem) while 2nd/3rd conjugation verbs have an -a- instead of whatever they had. So nothing crazy but still something to get used to before being confortable enough with it.

I read two Sherlock Holmes stories during a 2-hour long train trip. I enjoy these and I think they make for good practice. I'll probably be done with the book this week and will have to choose another one to start with (a pleasant duty!). I have two crime novels that I bought not long ago, I think I'll just pick one and see how it goes. I expect those to be more challenging than Sherlock Holmes since both are original Occitan works.
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Re: Occitan, Manchu, Yiddish and Latin

Postby guyome » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:58 pm

Occitan
Finished reading Gentlemen e Aventuras, a collection of six Sherlock Holmes stories. Very enjoyable and definitely a good choice for my first book. Tomorrow I'll probably start reading A planta cotelet, a crime novel written by Jòrdi Peladan.

I didn't push further with Assimil and have mostly done some review of past lessons. One thing I had noticed with other textbooks is that dialogues are what works best for me. The back and forth between two people makes it easier to remember things because the whole thing has an internal logic, each replica having a strong link to what comes before and follows. Monologues are much harder to work with and remember. This showed clearly in lesson 32 and 33, where one person speaks more or less half of the lesson in one go. These two lessons were harder to work with and, sure enough, I had internalized a much smaller amount of the content.

Yiddish
Still reading a lot. I am halfway through Tambur's Lebedike Meysim, which is still as enjoyable as it looked like it would be. For some time I was wondering what was Tambur's "angle", so to speak. That is, was there some allegory to be found in his description of the world of souls? And if yes, what was it? Having read more, it seems that in some chapters, especially the ones describing the trial of souls, Tambur is describing the Soviet judicial system. Other chapters could be interpreted in a broader way, as a reflection on (after-)life in general.

The Yiddish Book Center and the Jewish Public Library of Montréal have put online a talk by Tambur, given in Montréal in 1982. I've only listened to the first 30/40 minutes while running errands yesterday but it gives some interesting insights in Tambur's ideas on writing facts and fiction under an authoritarian regime.
The talk is also enjoyable because Tambur (who lived in Romania, then a Soviet republic) repeatedly emphasises that he is toeing the Party line, but in such a way that it becomes crystal clear what he really thinks of it. The best example of this is maybe is use of Aaron Lebedef's classic Yiddish song Rumenye, Rumenye, which was written in the 1920s, long before Romania became a Soviet Republic:
track 01-908A, around the 18:15 mark wrote:Az me lozt aroys aza yid fun dort er zol kumen aher darf er zikh optsoln zayn khoyv, un ikh vil nisht shuldik blaybn der Rumenisher melukhe. Derfar vel ikh optsoln. Tsum ale ersht, vel ikh opleykenen di kapitalistishe, imperyalistishe propagande vos geyt kegn Rumenyen. Ikh vel aykh(?) onvayzn. Ir do hot a tape vu me heybt on tsu zingn vegn "Rumenye, Rumenye", fun "a pastrame", fun "a karnatsikl", fun "a glezele vayn". Ikh meyn az ikh darf nisht iberzetsn vos heyst a pastrame...Zolt ir visn az dos iz propagande fun di kapitalistn! Haynt tsu tog, iz in Rumenye dos nishto!

When someone is let out from there [=Romania] to come here [=Canada], he has to pay his due, and I don't want to remain indebted to the Romanian government. So I will pay [my due]. First of all, I want to refute the capitalist, imperialist propaganda, which goes on against Romania. I will show you(?). You have here a tape, on which one begins singing about "Romania, Romania", about "a pastrami", "a meat-loaf", "a glass of wine". I don't think I have to translate what a "pastrami" is...You should know that this is capitalist propaganda! Nowadays, none of these exists in Romania! (laughs in the public)
My transcription follows Standard Yiddish pronounciation but, of course, Tambur speaks a southern dialect which differs slightly (for instance, in many cases: o > u, u > i, and ey > ay).

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