Moulton Lava

Moultonic Musings

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Location: New England, United States

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Sheesh and Oy Vey: The Geshrais Sublime

Expressions of lament are interesting exhalations of breath.

In the Sophoclean Greek tragedy, Ajax cries "Ai ai ai!"

In Yiddish, the same interjection comes out "Oy oy oy!"

Americans, however, are more likely to say, "Sheesh!" or "Jeez!" (both of which are clearly variations on "Jesus", whose name (Yeshua/Joshua) means 'rescuer' or 'saviour').

Calls for help or relief are perhaps among the oldest cries to the unreliable gods who solemnly promise to protect us from disaster.

I was thinking about "Oy Vey!" when it occurred to me that this timeless Yiddish variant of the geshrai (cry for help) is remarkably close to the Divine Name of the Hebrew God of the Old Testament of Moses. No one knows how to pronounce YHVH, but "Yai Vei" comes to mind. After all, what better occasion to call upon the deity when in times of trouble and woe? And so the sound of the cry becomes the name of the first responder.

After all, calling upon the Divine Name when one is truly in distress is hardly taking the name in vain.

In the Myst franchise, the good child of Atrus and Catherine is named Yeesha, which in the D'ni language means 'laughter'.

Hah! The Redemptive Saviour — laughter, joy, and glee — has arrived.



Blogger Higs; said...

In James Joyce's novel Ulysses, we're treated to a delightful poem called, "The Ballad of Joking Jesus."

9:11 AM  
Blogger Moulton said...

Oh, that is utterly marvelous!

I believe I shall adapt it for a fresh parody some day soon.

10:18 AM  

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