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Debra wrote asking for help with a Yiddish rhyme:

The following has been passed down through the ages (at least 150 years) by my mothers family, though we can only guess what the words mean now or the correct spelling of the words. I am hoping you may recognize it or be able to decipher it at least. The words were recited and accompanied by hand movements from infancy and on. I will use parenthesis to detail the hand motions that accompany the words.  The spelling of the words are my best estimate based on phonetics only:
 
Salz           (Take baby’s hand, palm open/up and gently run your palm across it, from heel to fingertip)
Schmalz     (Same motion but use the back of your hand this time)
Glievula    (With finger tips, tickle palm of child’s hand)
Glovula     (Same thing- Tickle-tickle?)
 
Nosgasauger       (Gently pinch/tug on tip of child’s nose -still holding child’s hand)
Augasauga          (Same to the ear)
Haudagasauga    (Same with the hair)
Elabauga            (Put your elbow in child’s palm and wiggle it around)
 
Glienabach         (Gently clap your palm to the child’s open palm)
Glosabach!         (Same thing but a little sharper/harder)
 
We as kids tried to interpret it and came up with: Front, Back, tickle-tickle. Nose, Ear, Hair, Elbow. Soft clap, Hard clap!  But Salz means Salt, and Schmalz seems to mean Lard so, I wonder if it in fact had an entirely different meaning?
Good luck, and please feel free to email me whatever you may find out!
Deb
If anyone can help with this rhyme, please let us know in the comments below.
 
Thanks!
 
Mama Lisa
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This artilce was posted on Friday, May 10th, 2013 at 2:03 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Finger Plays, Handplays, Israel, Languages, Nursery Rhymes, Questions, Readers Questions, USA, Yiddish. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Can Anyone Help with a Yiddish Rhyme that Starts, with "Salz Schmalz"?”

  1. Uly Says:

    Schmaltz doesn’t mean lard, being pig fat, it means chicken fat and, metaphorically, excessive and maudlin sentimentality (which is the common meaning in American English).

  2. Bruce Klemens Says:

    I know this rhyme! I’m 65 years old and my mother recited a version of it all the time when I was a toddler. I loved it because after she would poke various bodyparts, e.g. elbow, ear, nose, she would say tickle, tickle, tickle, and of course tickle me all over. She learned it from her mother, my beloved Grandma Huber (nee Schweighardt.) Grandma was a Catholic from an ethnic German village in Hungary named Balinka. So I don’t believe it is just Yiddish, but more widespread than that. Are your ancestors from Hungary? I came across your site because I decided to Google the version I know, which starts with Soitz, Schmoitz, clearly a corruption of Salz, Schmaltz. The first place I found on the Internet was a Hungarian newsletter, with both variations and then I found yours. Here’s the link, see page 7. http://www.visegrad.hu/content/vishirek/vh0705.pdf

    The newsletter is from Visegrad, Hungary which is not that far from Balinka. By the way, the version I knew has words from several of the versions in the newsletter and also has words not in any version such as Kiki Finger and what I think was Erbfunkel? These could simply be words in my grandmother’s funky German dialect. My mother told me that had a real German neighbor in Garfield, NJ who used to laugh at some of Grandma’s rustic German words and pronunciations. All of this of course is in my distant memory and I can make no guarantees that I’ve got everything right. Mom and Grandma are long gone. I would love to hear from you about this.

  3. Deb Says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Yes, my Grandmother (last name Schaudenecker) was Hungarian and came from Glogowatz which is I guess, a community of Arad. She Immigrated to College Point, Queens, NY about 1909 and was married to Josef Schikula (Sikula). They had 11 children together.

  4. Bruce Klemens Says:

    Deb,

    This further confirms my suspicions that the rhyme originated in German (and by extension, Yiddish) speaking Hungary and is known nowhere else in Europe. Are you aware there is a Village of Glogowatz website and the name Schaudenecker is indeed listed there?

    http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~banatdata/Glogowatz/HomePage.htm

    You probably know that for the most part German speakers settled in Hungary in the mid-1750’s to fill voids where villages had been abandoned due to the Turkish invasion. By the 1700’s the Habsburg rulers had driven the Turks out and wanted to recolonize these abandoned villages with Germans from the Ulm/Black Forest/Swabia region. They offered them land and exemption from taxes if they would settle in Hungary. Since many of them traveled down the Danube by boat they were called Danube Swabians.

    I’m awaiting an email back from my daughter. My mother used to recite the rhyme to her as a toddler, and I want to hear what she recalls. Then I’ll try to put together a full version as I know it, complete with translation and compare it to yours. Did you read the various versions in the Hungarian newsletter I mentioned?

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