So let’s say you’re watching a mixed-martial arts match and need to explain to your Yiddish-speaking friend what’s going on. Rutgers University prof Eddy Portnoy provides a glossary of “Yiddish terms for specific ass-kicking techniques.”
Writing for the on-line Jewish magazine Shtetl, Portnoy, a professor of Yiddish, provides a list of fight terms found in a 1926 essay by a little-known scholar named Hershl Grinboim. “Even in 1867,” writes Portnoy, “dozens of Yiddish words and phrases existed that dealt with fighting.”
Unterkletzl: also Puterpletzl and Benkele: a strong knee in the ass.
Araynforn: as in, “araynforn in pisk arayn,” meaning, to elbow someone in the jaw.
Barne: a closed-fisted hit on the head with the knuckle of the middle finger raised. Known in English as a noogie.
Bukh: a punch in the side.
A bintl finger: literally, “a bundle of fingers.” a punch in the mouth. Not to be confused with the Forverts’ A bintl brif (A Bundle of Letters) column.
A bentsh: to smash someone in the head with a piece of wood, or some other item. Literally, “a blessing.”
Der gubernator: “the governer.“ To take one’s thumb and jab it under a person’s ribcage, or into his side.
If this turns out to be a Purim parody, I’m going to give Portnoy such a bukh!