31 January 2011

Tory Jew Eat Yet?

It happened to Alvy Singer. It happened to Jonathan Hoffman. Now NUS leader Aaron Porter has allegedly been called a Jew in a contemptuous, pejorative way. In all three cases, most obviously the first, it didn't make a lot of sense in the context. "Jew eat yet?" makes very little sense. Hoffman was heckled following a speaker who quite openly referred to herself as Jewish. Since Tony Blair, "you're a Tory too" has been just below "Westlife-loving Nazi paedophile" in the left-wing insult armoury. (I could add at this point that Aaron Porter isn't actually Jewish, but as I've argued before, anti-Semites don't much care if you like lokshn or gefilte fish, what religion your mother was or if you still go to shul).

Trouble is, the word 'Jew' is a very, very simple one. It's basically two phonemes: /dʒ/ and /uː/, or in non-language-geek's terms, the 'j' and the 'oo'. The 'oo', /uː/, is a very common, very recognisable sound and an easy one to draw out. The /dʒ/ is not only common for 'j', 'g' and 'dg', but also for /dj/, when you have a 'd' next to a 'y' sound. Say "good yoghurt" quickly a few times. So you can find the word Jew in a contraction of 'do you', a kind of jitsu, the wet stuff on the ground in the morning, the wet stuff in oranges, a massive planet and two months of the year - including the anti-Semitic smear "Jew lie".

It all seems very obvious, but it's just naturally very easy to hear the word Jew where it's not there at all. A lot of words sound a lot like it, and a lot of jokes have grown out of this. And so, for want of a longer name, never in human history has a people suffered so many half-arsed puns.

1 comment:

  1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OP_MYH6I0rk&feature=player_embedded

    I think you're right, and there's footage to prove it. Poor quality, occasionally ambiguous footage, but no clear anti-semitism.

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