Interesting Episodes in History No. 63

When the 19yr old Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier (the Marquis de Lafayette) boarded the Victoire headed to the Revolution in America, he already possessed an excellent education in the classics.  He had a full command of Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.  Additionally, he was perfectly fluent in 3 German dialects: High German, Swiss German & Yiddish.  He could also speak passable Spanish, Italian and English.

Before setting sail he had been advised that the Colonials only spoke Yiddish.

Lafayette’s aide de camp recorded the first exchange between Lafayette and George Washington.

Marquis de Lafayette: “Es iz a kvud tsu trefen ir Algemeyne Vashington.  Mir zoln hobn a shabbes mitog tsuzamen. Afsher gefilte fish? Aber ershter mir muzen bazign dem faynt!”

Gen’l Washington: “Sir, it’s an honor. Forgive me, my knowledge of the French language is lacking. But we are in great need of French soldiers, French rifles and French artillery. We have sufficient gefilte fish.  Our waters teem with gefilte fish. Welcome to America!”

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