Witriol Unpublished

Joseph Witriol kept his articles, both published and unpublished. In some cases, I have to admit, it’s understandable that his submissions were rejected. Let’s Dabber Ivrit, from 1983, being a case in point.

Like the wonderful Julie Burchill, who was on Desert island Discs today, sharing with the audience her enthusiasm for Hebrew (this choice refers), my father was a lover of, and indeed an expert in, the language. But his opportunities to talk or listen to normal, conversational Modern Hebrew were very limited. I seem to remember one of his Israeli cousins described his spoken Hebrew as Ivrit shel Shabbat, presumably suggesting a punctilious formality and grammatical precision.

Acknowledging in its subtitle, Miles Kingston’s Let’s Parler Franglaisthe article was rejected by the Jewish Chronicle’s features editor:

 …I personally was greatly amused by it but I fear that it will be lost on the bulk of our readers…

My cynical interpretation of this being

I personally was able to understand the Hebrew, unlike the bulk of our readers…

The piece is a conversation, almost exclusively in Hebrew (albeit with “Heblish/Engrew(?) elements) between two fathers, one of whom is ruefully talking about his children. This character is clearly based on my dad. There is the odd line or two that can raise a chuckle, assuming you know Hebrew, but it lacks the wit and sparkle that much of his writing had.

But then, I struggle to see the humour of the Franglais pieces dans le premier place; C’est a un-truc poney, ÀMHA.


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