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Jan 3, 2012, 7:14 pm

I've read Born to Kvetch and have two friends who provide me with a new Yiddish word or expression whenever we get together. Yiddish is a wonderful language, so expressive, often funny. My latest vocabulary addition: Sit gournisht helfen. (It won't help.)

Jan 4, 2012, 10:05 am

If you enjoy Yiddish, you should check out The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten. Be sure to get the original not the "updated" version.

Jan 4, 2012, 1:50 pm

Thanks, rebeccanyc. I'll look for it over on PaperbackSwap.

Maio 29, 2012, 6:19 am

Cud anyone let me know the nuances of the following words: schmoozing, schmo, schmuck, schmoose, shmoose, shmooze, schmewspaper, schmoss, shmactor; all originated from Yiddish,
and whether it is safe to use in our daily conversation? I'm a learner of English language as a second language from Japan.

Editado: Maio 29, 2012, 10:55 am

>1 endpapers:
Blessings, Curses, Hopes and Fears: Psycho-Ostensive Expressions in Yiddish (Contraversions : Jews and Other Differences by James A. Matisoff seems to fit your interests.

Maio 29, 2012, 11:43 am

4 - The words "schmoozing," "schmoose," "shmoose," and "shmooze" are variants of the same word, which is perfectly fine to use in anything but formal settings. No one should find it offensive, but it's colloquial enough that I'd use it in everyday speech, including speech with coworkers, but not in a written report for work, for example. I would readily use it in an email, including a work-related email to a boss.

The words "schmo" and "schmuck" may be offensive because they both refer literally to male genitalia, though they're more commonly used figuratively as mild terms of abuse for a person, typically indicating that the person is stupid or pitiful. The phrase "dumb schmuck" is especially common. Because of the literal meaning, "schmo" and "schmuck" would be more commonly applied to a man than a woman. I would use it when speaking with friends but would never use it during a meeting at work or in a work-related email.

I don't think the other three are standard words, but instead they're formed by replacing the initial consonant sound of a word by the shound "schm-" (or, in the case of a word beginning with a vowel sound, prefixing the word with "schm-"). This is used to indicate a humorous dismissal for something of no importance, and the modified word is typically preceded by the unmodified word:

Ann: "Have you read today's newspaper?"
Bob: "Newspaper, schmewspaper. I get my news online."

Using the prefix "schm-" in this context is never offensive, unless the original unmodified word is already offensive, but it's very colloquial and is inherently jocular, so it wouldn't be used in any serious context.

Your example "schmewspaper" is obviously from "newspaper," but the other two could be derived from several possibilities (such as "floss" and "actor"); this ambiguity is a key reason why the modified word is normally preceded by the unmodified word. Of course, this formation doesn't work very well, and therefore wouldn't be used except as a joke or pun, when the word with the prefix "schm-" is already a recognizable word:

Ann: "Wow, that was a real stroke of luck!"
Bob: *"Luck, schmuck. That was pure skill."

Ann: "Do you have any booze?"
Bob: *"Booze, schmooze. I drink mineral water."

Jan 14, 2017, 2:04 pm

I wonder whether I might revive a dormant thread to ask a favour.

I have a Yiddish translation of Arthur Ransome's Six weeks in Russia in 1919, one of ten or twelve languages into which this short book was translated. The title page is reproduced on p. 12 of the TARSUS newsletter for June 2016, online at https://allthingsransome.net/archives/sft/sftjune2016.pdf

Would some kind soul with a Yiddish/Hebrew keyboard please type out the title page details, so that I can add it to my catalogue? Many thanks.

Incidentally, I got my copy from the Yiddish Book Center, Amherts, Massachusetts, after reading the author of the TARSUS article say the centre had several copies. If anyone is interested in the earlier life of the author of Swallows and Amazons, there may still be copies available.

Editado: Jan 14, 2017, 9:41 pm

אַרטהור רענסאָם
אין סאװעטען רוסלאַנד אין 1919
איבערזעצט פון ענגליש
דורךּ ג. ברוך
נײע װעלט

Jan 15, 2017, 7:15 am

>8 MMcM: Very many thanks.