Saturday, July 4, 2009

Yiddish klezmer Gothic klismo Hebrew kley-zemer

Yiddish 'klezmer' 'musician' is commonly derived from Hebrew 'kley-zemer'. Biblical Gothic has a word 'klismo' of unknown etymology meaning 'cymbal' used in the phrase 'klismo klismjandei' 'cymbal tinkling',
The two words are actually phonetically quite close in that Gothic lacked a short 'e'. Gothic 'i' would have been the closest approximation to this sound. Semantically, however the two words are pretty far apart. However, the literal meaning of 'kley-zemer' is 'musical instrument.' This word could have existed in Wulfila's time and been the basis both of Gothic 'klismo' and Yiddish 'klezmer.'

1 comment:

Bobo Bubalisky said...

as a klezmorim (the function, not the group) I am shocked that my title is no more than an extension of the object I hold, not what I do with it. Thankfully I am many things to many people.