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AWADmail Issue 219

July 23, 2006

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

From: Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

Enuf is Enuf: Some Peepl Thru with Dificult Spelingz:

Politicians Fan Language War:

Soldiers' Words May Test PBS Language Rules:
New York Times

From: David R. Ginsburg (pentaxATearthlink.net)
Subject: Charles V quotation

Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, is reported to have said, "I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse."

The original quotation is below:

Con mi caballo hablo en alemán,
con las damas de la Corte italiano,
para los asuntos de hombres en francés,
pero para hablar con Dios el español.
-Charles V
Holy Roman Emperor
King of Spain (as Charles I) 1500-1558

From: Todd Glassman (todd.glassmanATobermayer.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--yenta

Please allow me:

"... and Yiddish to talk to Bubby and Zaide about the grandchildren when they are playing within earshot."

From: Dan Osterman (dan_illustrationATyahoo.com)
Subject: And Yiddish to...

His mother, of course.

From: Linda Owens (lindafowensATnetzero.net)
Subject: Re: Yiddish

I think that if I spoke Yiddish, it would be to my psychiatrist (schmuck, putz, etc) or to my audience if I were a comedian.

From: Peter Gordon (peterATjoool.freeserve.co.uk)
Subject: Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor

Charles, of course, should have spoken to his horses in Arabic, since the Arab horse is and always has been the source of our best bloodstock. However, as part of the team, with Fernando and Isabel, that rid Spain of its Moors and cancelled the convivencia that was established in the peninsular for some centuries, that would be too much too expect. Does the word convivencia, living together in harmony of the ruling Moslems, the Jews and the Catholics, have any equivalent single word in other languages? We could, today, do with a word in every language and the concept.

From: Michael Dresdner (janeandmichaelATmsn.com)
Subject: Yenta

Yenta was the name of the matchmaker in Sholom Aleichem's stories, several of which were collected into what became the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholom Aleichem, taken from the common greeting that essentially means hello, was the pen name of Solomon Rabinovitz. Because Yenta was such a busybody, her name became synonymous with that characteristic. Perhaps because that characteristic is an advantage to a shadkhan (matchmaker). I often run across people who believe that Yenta means matchmaker.

From: Sarah Scherk (sarahsATsan.rr.com)
Subject: Yiddishisms

What business is a yenta in? Yours!

From: Skip Kotkins (skibipATaol.com)
Subject: Schmooze

When it is a transitive verb, it most definitely has the connotation of wanting to ingratiate oneself. "I wanted to shmooze him a little in order to get a nice contribution to the charity."

But when it is an intransitive verb or a noun, it does not have that connotation of ingratiating or trying to gain advantage. "Come on over around six, we'll schmooze a bit and then have some dinner." or the infinitive form: "We don't have anything planned, just a chance to schmooze." or the noun "The event was just a schmooze, no program or speakers."

Small nuances, but significant. Of course, that's Yiddish.

From: Art Funkhouser (art_funkhouserATcompuserve.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--schmooze

In some of the Swiss dialects of German "schmooze" is roughly equivalent to the American dating activity known as "petting".

From: Suzanne R Glaser (suzzsezzATaol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--maven

I knew this word had made it into common usage when I heard someone described as an "Islamic maven".

From: Anita Citron (anitac47AToptonline.net)
Subject: Shlub

The great thing about Yiddish words is that they are extremely rich -- the definitions given never really give the full meaning of their use. They are often better described in example rather than definition.For instance, shlub is not just a clumsy oaf but also (and more commonly) a slob, someone with food stains on his shirt, missing buttons, generally chubby, a boor, badly dressed. A klutz would more fit "clumsy oaf" because, as commonly used, a klutz trips over his or her own feet.

From: Art Haykin (theartATwebtv.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--shtick

Decades ago, there was a Jewish deli in our neighborhood, and in one showcase were displayed all manner of goodies. I remember a sign on one tray of goodies that read "A nickel a schtickel, plus a schtickel pickle." If you bought a kreplach or a matzo ball, or whatever for a nickel, you also got a nice slice of a giant kosher dill.

From: Maureen Roult (roultmATnetscape.net)
Subject: Re: this week's theme

You're a mensch, pursuing this theme. I love the Yiddish words that (at least American) English has adopted. I couldn't live without "schlep", for example. This is a theme you could easily spend two or three weeks on.

A living language is like a man suffering incessantly from small haemorrhages, and what it needs above all else is constant transactions of new blood from other tongues. The day the gates go up, that day it begins to die. -H.L. Mencken, writer, editor, and critic (1880-1956)

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