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Gary Younge
Oy vey! Brooklyn can't bridge cultural divide

As you approach the borough from Queens over the Kosciuszko Bridge, you are greeted with the sign: "Welcome to Brooklyn: Believe the Hype."

Signs for those leaving the borough have proved far more problematic, however. Plans for a notice reading "Leaving Brooklyn: Fuhgeddaboudit" for drivers heading towards the large Italian-American community in Staten Island were rejected last year by the department of transport.

Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz, eventually managed to put the sign on land owned by the state.

But the plan upset some Italian-Americans who saw it as a crude, cultural caricature.

One Italian-American driver asked Mr Markowitz, who is Jewish, how he would feel about a sign saying "Oy Vey" - a Yiddish term which defies translation but which the Oxford English dictionary describes as an "exclamation used by Yiddish-speakers to express dismay or grief".

Mr Markowitz replied: "How would I feel? That's the best idea I ever heard."

So in December he asked to put "Leaving Brooklyn: Oy Vey!" on the Williamsburg bridge to Manhattan. A few days ago he got an answer from the transport department, amounting to: Fuhgeddaboudit!

"The sign didn't add any information so we respectfully rejected it," the department's Tom Cocola told the New York Post.

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