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#205631 - 04/27/12 09:14 AM Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing"
basemetal Offline

Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 2
I have a few questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing".

1. What is the linguistics term for a phrase
generating process such as this well-known
Yiddish one whereby a phrase is formed
consisting of a word followed by an "echo"
of itself with its original initial consonant
cluster replaced by Shm..., e.g. "Poodle shmoodle,
he's just a stupid dog")

I think (leaving aside the specific meaning
associated with this process in Yiddish)
such processes exist in other languages (e.g. Hindi).

2. In Yiddish the "rule" is the same when the word
starts with a vowel (null consonant cluster
so to speak), e.g. "Elegance, shmelegance..."

Is this the same in other languages?

3. What happens in Yiddish when the original word
itself happens to have Shm... as its initial
consonant cluster?

What happens in other languages?

Note in Yiddish something like "Shmuck, shmuck,
if I'm not looking out for myself, who will?"
while of course possible would not have the meaning
associated with the process I'm talking about.

We would be dealing with a simple repetition of
the word no different than "Wealthy, wealthy, let's
just say I'm not hurting".

In particular the rhythm would be different from
that associated with the Shm... repetition.

4. When the word starts with Sh..., either alone or
part of a consonant cluster whose second element
is not m (i.e. starts with Sh... but not with Shm...),
as far as I can sense the process (in Yiddish) is
the usual one, e.g. "Shlemiel, shmemiel..." sounds
to me perfectly possible.

What do you think?

What happens in similar cases in other languages
where this type of process exist?

And finally

5. Are there in Yiddish words starting with
a consonant cluster of the type Shml..., i.e.
a consonant cluster itself starting with Shm...
but stricly larger, i.e. are there in Yiddish words
such as Shmlip (this particular word is invented
of course)?

What happens then (if such words do exist)?

The normal "Shmlip shmip..." would sound to me
a bit awkward. Or maybe not.

What do you think?

What happens in other languages?

Thank you for any answer.

#205634 - 04/27/12 11:09 AM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: basemetal]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
It's a kind of reduplication. There is an article on the Yiddish process which I've seen called Metalinguistic, shmetalinguistic: the phonology of shm-reduplication that address some of your questions. It might be available online or you might contact the authors, Andrew Nevins and Bert Vaux.
Ceci n'est pas un seing.

#205635 - 04/27/12 11:26 AM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: basemetal]
Avy Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
In Hindi and other Indian languages, it is used to denote quantity in the sense of "more of the same". Example: The trucks-shucks (or vucks depending on which language it is.) were blocking the road. I went to buy sabzi-vabzi (vegetables).

#205640 - 04/27/12 04:35 PM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: zmjezhd]
basemetal Offline

Registered: 04/27/12
Posts: 2
Thanks a lot for the reference.

One can find the article you mentioned online: http://cambridge.academia.edu/BertVaux/P...-reduplication.

I haven't read it all yet but just browsing through it, it looks like an interesting paper and not too technical.

Thanks again.

#205641 - 04/27/12 08:06 PM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: Avy]
garygnu Offline

Registered: 01/25/11
Posts: 14
Neat. I was just looking at Hamming distance on wikipedia and in the see also section of the page it lists similarity (mathematics)...and word golf (word ladder). When I connected with similarity it reads "Similar" redirects here. For the place in India, see Shimla.


Shimla is often referred to as the "Queen of Hills"

Anyway..thought it was an interesting connection.
similar~ more of the same.

#205643 - 04/27/12 10:27 PM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: garygnu]
Avy Offline
old hand

Registered: 06/23/00
Posts: 724
I just read this sher (couplet) on twitter and would like to post it here.

"Jis din se tum roothe mujhse roothe roothe hain,
Chaadar-vaadar, takiye-vakiye, bistar-vistar sab."
Translation keeping cuteness of the sher intact is tough, but here goes:
"Since the day you stopped speaking to me all of these also stopped speaking:
All the sheets-veets, the pillows-villows, the mattresses-vatresses."
- sher attributed to rahat indori/dost
PS: sorry for the mediocre translation. I could not translate "roothe roothe mujhse hain" which is reduplication to denote extent and quantity. In english "upset upset" is not proper usage. smile Pillows-villows works as tranlsation because even in Urdu/Hindi it is scatological.

Edited by Avy (04/27/12 11:07 PM)
Edit Reason: Typos, translations, transgressions

#205649 - 04/28/12 07:13 AM Re: Questions about the Yiddish "Shm... thing" [Re: Avy]
BranShea Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5289
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague


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