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AWADmail Issue 494

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Athhilezar? Watch Your Fantasy World Language
The New York Times

How the Brain Strings Words Into Sentences

From: Tim Orr (torr286 aol.com)
Subject: Nosh
Def: verb tr., intr. To snack or eat between meals. noun: A snack.

So great to see we're going to have a whole week of Yiddish! Can't let "nosh" go by without pointing out that there is a real Jewish delicatessen here in Nashville called Noshville.

Tim Orr, Nashville, Tennessee

From: Elizabeth Kingson (ekingson gmail.com)
Subject: Nosh

Nosh is one of my favorite words! Probably because I am a bit of a snacker...

When my girlfriend and I first got together I would say, "Are you peckish? Let's have a wee nosh." From the blank looks she gave me you'd think I wasn't speaking English! She's picked up my lingo now though, and never questions a nosh.

Elizabeth Kingson, Portland, Oregon

From: Michael Tremberth (michaelt4two googlemail.com)
Subject: nosh

"Fancy some nosh", to a visitor can imply anything from "have a sandwich" to "stay for a meal", at least in the UK. One says "yes, please" and awaits developments.

Michael Tremberth, Cornwall, UK

Email of the Week (Courtesy The Uppityshirts Crew -- Merry LAXmas!)

From: Steven Szalaj (szjsings mac.com)
Subject: Naches
Def: Emotional gratification or pride, especially taken vicariously at the achievement of one's children.

When you began this week's theme, I immediately thought of naches. My older son studied violin with a teacher in Chicago, George Perlman, who passed away on 2000 at the age of 103. He emigrated to Chicago at the age of four from the Ukraine. When he learned that I too am a teacher, he shared this beautiful word, defining it as "parental pride in the success of your children" and then elaborating by saying that teachers also experience "naches" in the success of their students. As both a teacher and a parent, I couldn't agree more!

Steven Szalaj, Crystal Lake, Illinois

From: David Kramer (dk54 comcast.net)
Subject: Shmutz
Def: Dirt, filth, or any undesirable substance.

I remember the word from as long as I can remember as a kid. My uncle had one affectionate name for my aunt: Schumtzie. I'll *never* forget when I first heard that! I was 10, and we were climbing the stairs of the Statue of Liberty to the torch.

David Kramer, Denver, Colorado

From: Melissa Owens (pandem comcast.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--schmutz

As residents in the busiest Obstetrics and Gynecology program in the country in the early 90s, we found many avenues to help mitigate the overwhelming stress of our daily lives. One of the most popular was by poking verbal fun at our situation. This of course included rebellion against the stuffy and seemingly obfuscating language of medicine that had so recently been thrust upon us. Many of us still refer to the thickened contents of some infected cyst or other that we happen to be evacuating that day as "inspissated schmutz".

Melissa K Owens, Lafayette, California

From: Mike Finestone (mikefinest gmail.com)
Subject: Kosher
Def: 1. Conforming to the dietary laws of Judaism. 2. Proper; genuine; permissible.

The ultimate decision on whether a food is Kosher or not depends on the ruling of a rabbi. In the UK some time ago the London Rabinate deliberated on whether or not Mars bars were acceptable and decided against them. However in the North of the country no such question had been asked so in Manchester, for example, one could still enjoy them. At a meeting this anomaly was brought up and someone asked where the dividing line was between the North and the South. As quick as a flash the answer came from the audience -- Nuneaton (a town between the two).

Mike Finestone, Ra'ananah, Israel

From: Greta Dorfman (greta.dorfman gmail.com)
Subject: kosher

"Kosher" is a word that is routinely egregiously misused by the non-Jewish public which has no understanding of the dietary laws. Oh well... but since it's actually a Hebrew word, I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed, that in the one week that you devote to Yiddish words, that you would use one that is so uninteresting in its true meaning. (I live in Israel, and I do everything possible to avoid buying kosher foods, particularly because kosherized meat is high in sodium.) However, Yiddish is full of rich, juicy, fun words, and it would be fun to use those. I never realized that nudnik was not known by most Gentiles until I used it among my non-Jewish friends and nobody had a clue what I was talking about.

Greta Dorfman, Petach Tikvah, Israel

From: Jay Watterworth (jaywatterworth comcast.net)
Subject: Friday's "Thought for Today"

Re: If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all. -Booker T. Jones, musician and songwriter (b. 1944)

It is great to see you including quotations from the rich field of blues songs, this being from "Born Under a Bad Sign", made famous by Albert King and others. Although Mr. Jones did have a hand in it, it was for the music. The lyrics were written by William Bell who also wrote the lyrics for Otis Redding's hit "You Don't Miss Your Water".

Jay Watterworth, Wheat Ridge, Colorado

From: Robin K. Blum (info inmybook.com)
Subject: Yiddish words take me back

As a child in the 1950s, my parents (and most Jewish immigrant parents) spoke a choice word or two of Yiddish at the dinner table to prevent 'the kinde' from understanding their meaning. It was sort of a game to decipher their meaning; the parents were aware that our 'antennae were up'.

Robin K. Blum, Brooklyn, New York

From: Enita Torres (enitatorres gmail.com)
Subject: Yiddish

Because of having grown up on Long Island, Yiddish words and expressions are quite endearing to me. I don't know if there is a word to describe a word that feels so satisfying as it comes out of the mouth. It's not exactly onomatopoeia but similar. (I think it has something to do with hard consonants.) It's the reason swear words satisfy but their diluted substitutions just don't. Anyway, noshing feels more accurate than snacking and calling someone a meshuga feels more on point than crazy or stupid and, paradoxically, less harsh.

A sheynem dank,

Enita Torres, Houston, Texas

In words are seen the state of mind and character and disposition of the speaker. -Plutarch, biographer and philosopher (circa 46-120)

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