Removed remark about golems Jewishness, as there doesn't seem to be any relevance or references backing up the claim.
But... there is a distinct Central European "Yiddishness" about the Golems? Even down to their very names being from the Yiddish language? Based on a central European folk-legend originating with European Jews? A race who on the Discworld will cease all work from dawn to dusk on specified holy days? Whose written script has a certain Hebrew feel to it? Dorfl's written and spoken discourse has an unmistakeable Lionel Blue-like quality to it. Like the engaging Mr Blue, he also thinks like a rabbi and can dissect an argument to its umpteenth subordinate clause. Golems are effectively "Jewish" in thought and outlöök? (well... "Jewish-like" just as Fourecks is "Australia-like")--AgProv 00:13, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
- Yea. Their Jewishness could hardly be more obvious. I intended to do something about that before, along with all the other things...--Old Dickens 01:29, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
If getting a Golem to talk required some arcane knowledge then Carrot and Detritus wouldn't have been able to do it. I think it's probably as simple as giving them a tongue. Also a golems lips aren't physically sealed as both Dorfl and the king could open their mouths and utter sounds (screaming, hissing) if not actual speech although both were under considerable stress at the time. --Teletran 04:39, 26 February 2007 (CET)
I've found some coroborating evidence in Going Postal:
'A lot of the cultures that built golems thought tools shouldn't talk. They have no tongues.' 'And the Trust gives them some extra clay, eh?' said Moist cheerfully. She gave him a look. 'It's a bit more mystical than that,' she said solemnly.
--Teletran 06:35, 6 March 2007 (CET)
The first hint I know of is in Going Postal -- page 64 in the HarperCollins US hardcover edition. (Are the page numbers here from a UK edition? They're a bit lower than I see in my books.)
Anyway, at this point in our story, Adora Belle Dearheart points out to Moist von Lipwig (love Pratchett names!) the slogan of the Golem Trust -- over the door and on the back of the pamphlet. And the golem characters there are a pretty obvious substitution cipher for what she gives as the translation: By Our Own Hand, or None. (And note that this already shows it's a letter substitution rather than a phonetic one -- or there'd be no symbol for the silent E.)
Of course, the substitution is a bit complicated here and there. I and Y are doubled up on one character, as are C and K. Not to mention U, V, and W. And I can usually distinguish between S and E by the slight curve in the vertical stroke of the former. But I haven't figured out a way to tell an M from an R. Anyone else have any hints? (And has anyone yet seen a golem letter for J, Q, X, or Z? It would figure that these four are last to appear -- they're not the big four Scrabble letters for nothing, after all; they're the least used letters in English . . . and apparently in this dialect or variant of Golem, too.) --jalp
There was a Rosetta stone for this in Going Postal, p66... it shows the Golem for "By our own hand or none" and then Adora translates it. It was pretty clear here that it's a simple substitution – you can look at it and see the pattern of the symbols matches the letters. M and R are indeed different... the symbol for M is approximately vertically symmetric, and the middle bit doesn't stick out as far as the top or bottom. The symbol R however has a much shorter top bit than either of the bottom two. I don't think there's a J/Q/X/Z yet either... these four are almost always the last you see in cryptograms like this. Phlip 08:43, 10 November 2007 (CET)
This figures: the "mnemonic" in English usage, for letter frequency, is apparently EATOINSHRDLU, where "e" is by far and away the most commonly occuring letter, with the rest ranked afterwards in order of frequency. (I only remember it because it was the title of a sci-fi anthology...) Apparently the remaining 14 letters are all of such low relative frequency that it isn't worthwhile commiting their order to memory: if you can crack these first 12, they occur often and frequently enough in any English discourse for the cryptographer to be able to make an intelligent stab at the structure of the rest. Hence:-
This *i*ures: the "*nemoni*" in En*lish usa*e, *or letter *re*uen*y, is a**arentl* EATOINSHRDLU, *here "e" is ** *ar and a*ay the *ost *o**onl* o**urin* letter, *ith the rest ran*ed a*ter*ards in order o* *re*uen**. (I on* remem*er it *e*ause it *as the title o* a s*i-*i *antholo**...) A**arentl* the remainin* 14 letters are all o* su** lo* relati*e *re*uenc* that it isn't *orth*hile *o**iting their order to *e*or*: if you can *ra** these *irst 12, they o**ur o*ten and *re*uentl* enou*h in an* En*lish dis*ourse *or the *r**to*ra*her to be a*le to *a*e an intelli*ent sta* at the stru*ture o* the rest.
--AgProv 16:48, 3 April 2008 (CEST)
-Etaoin Shrdlu was the name of a bookworm (larger than .30 cal.) in Walt Kelly's Pogo (the greatest comic strip in history.) Wikipedia agrees with Mr. Kelly on the relative frequency of t and a. --Old Dickens 19:15, 3 April 2008 (CEST)
Sorry to nitpick, but what is the source for the Golem of Prague being created by a Rabbi named Cohen? Every version I've heard of gives his name as Loew.
as a stab at an answer, the surname "Cohen" in its variant forms - Coen, Kahn, Kane, et c- originally meant nothing more than "one who believes", ie a generic term for any faithful Jewish believer. I' wondering if somebody, with an imperfect knowledge of Jewish custom, tried to translate a version of the Golem story out of Yiddish, and mis-translated "Rabbi Loew, a cohen from Prague" , as "this rabbi Cohen from Prague" - ie, mistook a general noun for a proper noun. --AgProv 14:20, 17 June 2008 (UTC)
Is there any support for the translation of Dorfl? There was much discussion in ABP years ago, without definite result and I can't find it. It may be related to dorfish (rural, pastoral), which could lead to the "bumpkin" in the annotation. --Old Dickens (talk) 23:29, 25 October 2016 (UTC)