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Reviving a thread...
I had the occasion to use the word dreck the other day (it was perfect!), and in doing so I decided to look it up and learn a little about the word. I had no idea it was a Yiddish word...nor that it comes from a Yiddish word meaning excrement. Perhaps it won't be one of my favorite words anymore!

I do enjoy Yiddish words; they are so perfectly descriptive.
 
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The male form of Yiddish shikse is sheygets, pl. shkotsim. They both come the Hebrew word שקץ (sheqets) 'abomination; unclean thing or person'.

Dreck exists in German also. It means 'dirt, muck'. In tone, it's closer to 'crud' or 'manure' than 'shit'. In Yiddish, drek is 'dirt, filth', and more of a euphemism for 'excrement'. Excrement in Yiddish is der kal 'animal droppings' or di tsoye 'excrement'.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Reviving a thread
An elderly acquaintance of mine sends me (and many others) emails quite often. You probably have people who do that. Normally, I just hit delete and go on, but once in awhile I read what she sends, such as this:
quote:
This Incident has been confirmed. In Katy , TX

As a woman was putting gas in her car, a man came over and offered his services as a painter, and had his business card in his hand. She said no, but accepted his card out of kindness and got in the car. The man then got into a car driven by another gentleman. As the lady left the service station, she saw the men following her out of the station at the same time. Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath. She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand; the same hand which accepted the card from the gentleman at the gas station.

She then noticed the men were immediately behind her and she felt she needed to do something at that moment. She drove into the first driveway and began to honk her horn repeatedly to ask for help.. The men drove away but the lady still felt pretty bad for several minutes after she could finally catch her breath. Apparently, there was a substance on the card that could have seriously injured her.

This drug is called 'BURUNDANGA ' and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal from or take advantage of them.

This drug is four times dangerous than the date rape drug and is transferable on simple cards.

So take heed and make sure you don't accept business cards at any given time alone or from someone on the streets. This applies to those making house calls and slipping you a card when they offer their services.

PLEASE SEND THIS E-MAIL ALERT
TO EVERY FEMALE YOU KNOW!!!!
I couldn't restrain myself, and I checked it out on Snopes. Sure enough, it wasn't true. However, when I told my friend, she said "So, it's a Bubbe maise." That Yiddish phrase is new to me, meaning, "grandmother's tale," or similar to our "old wive's tale."

[I know...it took awhile to get to the point. Wink]
 
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Bubbe maise

Usually transliterated bobe mayse. The word mayse is from the Hebrew מעשה /maʕas/ 'deed, act' (link) from the verb עשה /ʕasah/ 'to do, make work' (link). In Yiddish, the s is not voiced (does not sound like a z) and the final e of both words is a schwa


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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A movie coming out, "Dinner for Schmucks," is causing a little uneasiness. Schmuck is not a nice Yiddish word:
quote:
Be that as it may, the world’s pop-cultural apparatus is now left to deal with a word that was once “regarded as so vulgar as to be taboo” in the home of the Yiddish language aficionado Leo Rosten, according to his 1968 treatise, “The Joys of Yiddish.”
The comic Lenny Bruce apparently was arrested for using it onstage.

While the article says it comes from the Old Polish "smok," meaning "grass snake" or "Dragon," in Yiddish it means "penis."

Dinner for "schlemiels" might be better, one Blog writer says. Other great Yiddish words brought up in this article are "shmendrik" and "shlimazl." They do love those "sh" or "sch" words!

By the way, this is the same director (Jay Roach) who directed "Meet the Fockers" and "Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me." He seems to have an attitude!
 
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I had thought it more likely related to the German schmuck, meaning ornament.
 
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Originally posted by neveu:
I had thought it more likely related to the German schmuck, meaning ornament.


it's uncertain
 
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Of the two Yiddish words for penis (shmok and pots, both have had their meanings transfered from genitalia to 'a foolish man'. So that now, if the new forms are used for the actual item: shmekl and petsl. They are both diminutive forms, with the vowels showing the typical Germanic phonological process of umlaut.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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While the etymology of schmuck may be uncertain, to those who are familiar with Yiddish, the meaning has always been "penis."

This is a classic joke (though the details vary; I got this version from some Blog):

One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone... stolen! He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is "What color was your camel?"
Marvin replies he doesn't remember, "Probably camel colored I guess... sort of brownish-greyish."
"And how many humps on your camel?" asks the policeman.
"Who counts humps... one, maybe two, I don't know for sure."
"And the height of the camel, sir?"
"What's with these dumb questions?" Marvin asks. "The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can't be certain."
"Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?"
"Ah, that I know for sure he was a male."
"How can you be so certain of his sex when you don't remember anything else about your camel?" asks the policeman.
"Well," says Marvin, "everyone knows he's a male. Every day I'd ride the camel through town and people would stop and say to each other 'Look at the schmuck on that camel!'"
 
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reviving a thread

I am reading "The Finkler Question," which takes place in England and is about British Jews. They mentioned a Yiddish word that neither Shu nor I had ever heard: svontz Has anyone heard it? It is one of the many Yiddish words to mean "penis" apparently. Yet I can't find it in Google or Google Translate. Maybe it really doesn't exist? It is a novel I am reading.
 
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I've heard of German Schwanz "tail", I'm sure it's related.
 
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They mentioned a Yiddish word that neither Shu nor I had ever heard: svontz Has anyone heard it?

Yes, it's basically the German term for 'tail' or 'penis': Schwantz. You'd have to ask a native Yiddish speaker, but to my ear the term in Yiddish, shvants sounds a bit daytshmerish 'German' (a term used for more highfalutin' vocabulary items). As for the tail/penis thing, in Latin penis means both, too.

Now (not to leave the ladies out of this) have either you or Shu heard of the Yiddish word shmue?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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Now when I told Shu that you'd both heard of "svontz" he said it does sound familiar. Roll Eyes I thought it was strange that Google translator couldn't translate it and that there were no cites for it on Google.

We have not heard of "shmue." What does it mean? It also doesn't translate in Google translator, and I can't find it in Google. However, "shmuel" is "Sammuel" in Hebrew. And of course there's Al Capp's " Shmoo ."
 
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What Kalleh said.

shmue doesn't look like the typical way to render a yiddish word in the roman alphabet. I'd expect the ending to be written -oo, not -ue.
 
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shmue doesn't look like the typical way to render a yiddish word in the roman alphabet. I'd expect the ending to be written -oo, not -ue.

Oy vey. I use the YIVO standard method of transliterating Yiddish words from the Hebrew to the Latin alphabet. But let's not beat around the bush, in Yiddish (Hebrew letters), it's שםוע. Harkavy in his 1928 Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary (2nd edition) glosses it 'cunt (vulg.)'. It would be pronounced /ʃmuə/ or shmoo-uh. I'd never really thought of it before, but I wonder if Al Capp was being risque.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Kalleh:
reviving a thread

wow. you're not kidding. Smile

to answer your question...
Svantz or Schwantz... yes I have heard of it. My Dad uses it when describing, um, the male member.


peace.

palefox
 
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I'd never really thought of it before, but I wonder if Al Capp was being risque.

He was, according to the Wikipediaarticle Kalleh posted above:

quote:
The actual origin of Capp's word "shmoo" has been the subject of debate by linguists for decades, leading to the misconception that the term was derived from "schmo" or "schmooze". However, "shmue" was a taboo Yiddish term for the female reproductive organ, the ultimate fertility symbol.[9] It's one of many Yiddish slang variations that would find their way into Li'l Abner. Revealing an important key to the story, Al Capp himself wrote that the Shmoo metaphorically represented the limitless bounty of the earth in all its richness—in essence, Mother Nature herself. In Li'l Abner's words, "Shmoos hain't make believe. The hull [whole] earth is one!!"

I'd read that Shmoo was a euphemism for schmuck, but Li'l Abner's quote above only makes sense if it's interpreted as shmue.

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Originally posted by tinman:
quote:
I'd never really thought of it before, but I wonder if Al Capp was being risque.

He was, according to the Wikipedia article Kalleh linked to above:

quote:
The actual origin of Capp's word "shmoo" has been the subject of debate by linguists for decades, leading to the misconception that the term was derived from "schmo" or "schmooze". However, "shmue" was a taboo Yiddish term for the female reproductive organ, the ultimate fertility symbol.[9] It's one of many Yiddish slang variations that would find their way into Li'l Abner. Revealing an important key to the story, Al Capp himself wrote that the Shmoo metaphorically represented the limitless bounty of the earth in all its richness—in essence, Mother Nature herself. In Li'l Abner's words, "Shmoos hain't make believe. The hull [whole] earth is one!!"

I'd read that Shmoo was a euphemism for schmuck, but Li'l Abner's quote above only makes sense if it's interpreted as shmue.

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quote:
wow. you're not kidding.
Well, it had last been revived in May of 2010, so it wasn't too bad. But...welcome back Paleface! We haven't seen you in an age. Would love you to pull up a chair and stay awhile. Wink
 
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Dreck exists in German also. It means 'dirt, muck'. In tone, it's closer to 'crud' or 'manure' than 'shit'. In Yiddish, drek is 'dirt, filth', and more of a euphemism for 'excrement'. Excrement in Yiddish is der kal 'animal droppings' or di tsoye 'excrement'.


Just for fun: remember the old drinking song -- Ach, du lieber Augustine...?

Ever hear the whole thing?

Ach, du lieber Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,
Ach, du lieber Augustin,
Alles ist hin!

Gelt ist weg, Gut ist weg,
Augustin liegt im Dreck,
Ach, du lieber Augustin,
Alles ist hin!


which translates roughly as (second verse; you can reconstruct the rest)

Money is gone, everything good is gone,
Augustine is lying in the gutter.
Oh, dear Augustine,
Everything is gone.

You can picture either usage of Dreck here - muck or shit - depending on whether you think Augustine is simply an unfortunate soul or really a worthless bum...
 
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P.S. Among many versions. From the Wikipedia article on the subject, (which we all know to be authoritative) - "Oh du lieber Augustin" is a Viennese folk song, composed by Max Augustin in 1679.

(Edit: typo)

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I loved this article today reminiscing about the Polk Bros. stores in Chicago. I vaguely remember the stores. The reason I posted it here is because they use one of my favorite Yiddish words - schmata. I also like their description of "pullers." I have to paste it here because apparently links to the Tribune don't work:

I dearly hope that when the Polk Bros. Foundation bought the naming rights to a new park at Navy Pier, the $20 million purchase price was set by haggling.

You know how that works? A seller starts with an asking price more than a little on the high side, and the buyer, shaking his head in disbelief, counters with an offer equally unrealistic. They go another round, maybe more, until they both budge and a deal is struck.

So I can imagine Sol and Sam Polk rolling over in their graves if teams of high-priced lawyers in three-piece suits came to terms on the Navy Pier deal without one side crying: "You're robbing me blind!" The other shouting back: "This is my last offer before I walk!" It would be a travesty to put the Polk name on a deal politely and dispassionately concluded.

A spokesman said the family hoped the Polk name over the park's entrance might set younger Chicagoans to reflect upon what they missed for never having been in a Polk Bros. store, the last of which closed in 1992.

With their string of furniture and appliance stores, Sol and Sam took citywide a tradition of haggling established on Maxwell Street by Jewish merchants from Eastern Europe. There, newcomers would be taken in hand, literally, by a "puller" stationed outside a store. If a passer-by didn't respond to his touting of bargains, the puller would take hold of him, and, more or less gently, steer him inside. The store would reverberate with running commentary appended to bids:

Seller: "This suit, my friend, is a fine example of the tailor's art."

Buyer, fingering it distastefully: "Phooey! It's a schmata." ("Rag" in Yiddish, the street's lingua franca.)

On one store, a large sign boasted (only slightly tongue-in-cheek): "We cheat you fair."

In Polk Bros. stores, the puller's function — grabbing a customer and not letting go — was taken by salesmen clustered just inside the door. They would peel off to follow customers as closely as paparazzi determined not to miss a money shot.

By contrast, if you're looking for solitude these days, a good place to start is a big-box store or discount chain retailer. You can wander the aisles all day, alone with your thoughts — unless, by chance, a clerk breaks your reverie by halfheartedly asking: "Are you finding what you need?"

The Polks' merchandising philosophy forbid saying the word "need" in earshot of a customer. It could trigger her to thinking: "I really love this Mixmaster, but do I really need it, with the bill coming in for our daughter's braces?"

In the Polk Bros. playbook, the name of the game was converting passing fancy into irresistible desire. One way was through reverse leverage, using a customer's sales resistance against her. Many a customer came to browse, only to have her eye caught by a fridge or couch, as a hedonist impulse deep in her psyche whispered: "Don't fret over the price. They give discounts. Think how much it would cost at Marshall Field's."

As if reading her mind, a salesman would offer her a price below that on the price tag — which carried two notations, one in dollars, the other a string of letters. A couch might be marked: "$350 MBV," the latter standing for $290, the minimum price for which it could be sold. The salesman's objective was to make the sale — but for as close to the marked price as possible, since he and management split the difference between the marked price and the sales price.

The customer couldn't read the coded price but, knowing it existed, tried to nudge the salesman toward it. With each drop in the price, her sales resistance crumbled a little more.

For regular customers, the routine wasn't just a way of acquiring stuff. It was a way to keep their minds sharp by honing their bargaining skills, making a Polk Bros. store something more. It was a kind of mental gymnasium where customers practiced the exercise of haggling. For earlier generations, it provided the brain-maintenance opportunities with which Sudoku is now credited.

During late adolescence, I briefly worked at a different furniture store with a kind of theatrical variation on the game. When a salesman encountered sales resistance, he would call: "Oh, Mr. Otto." That signaled the next salesman in the rotation to join the customer and the original salesman, who would give him a role-playing assignment. As at the Second City comedy club, you didn't know ahead of time what improvisation would be required. "This is Mr. Otto, our furniture buyer," the summoning salesman might say. Or you'd be introduced as an interior decorator.

Then you'd wing it, saying something like: "You fine folks and I share a sense of good taste. But frankly, this dinette set hasn't sold as well as I expected. So let's help each other. I'll give you a nice markdown, and your buying it will reduce my overstock."

It rarely failed, no matter how outlandish I should have looked playing adult roles. Greed beats rationality.

Now there are fewer opportunities to practice bargaining. Even Mr. Otto's skills deteriorate, as I discovered in a jewelry store in Jerusalem's Old City. About to return from a stint at the Tribune's Jerusalem Bureau, I spotted a potential present for my wife. When the Palestinian proprietor stuck at a relatively high price, I noted that President Bill Clinton and Iraq's Saddam Hussein were exchanging threats. If war came, I told him, we could both be goners, so why quibble over a few shekels?

"Yes, but I've always wanted to die a wealthy man," he replied.

Like a defeated chess player laying down his king, I handed him the amount he wanted.

rgrossman@tribune.com
 
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The "system" is alive and well in most car dealerships. It always takes two or three salesmen to work you over.

As for the modern stores, when I'm asked, "Did you find everything," which seems the current variation of the article's, "Are you finding what you need?" I reply, "I'm not here to buy everything."

I loved the closing paragraph!
 
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I thought the code for the minimum price was so funny. I have bought from Polk Bros. before. I imagine I went in and just paid the posted price. I've never enjoyed haggling, like some do.
 
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There used to be a Polk's Hobbies in New York. Was it the same family?
 
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The "system" is alive and well in most car dealerships.

Many years ago, before I wised up to dealer one-up-manship, we bought a car and got what we thought was a good price. The salesman promised to have it ready at a certain time when we would sign the final papers and get the car. My wife was excited because she had never had a brand-new vehicle. That night, we sat at the salesman's desk and he congratulated us, told us how great the car was, but then a look of concern appeared on his face (I think he may have been a method actor, part-time). He picked up the papers and excused himself, entering a nearby office.

When he returned, he was apologetic. He pointed to the figures on the contract and said the "girl in the office" had made a mistake figuring out the price and it would actually cost us $400 dollars more than the agreed price.

I should have walked right then, but my wife was adamant that she wanted the car, and it wasn't his fault, was it, and why should the poor salesman suffer the loss for that "silly girl's" mistake, and "I really want that car."

So we paid the "mistake" but later learned it was just one ploy in the seller game.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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We had something similar happen to us once. Suddenly there was some $250 fee that he had forgotten to tell us about. My husband told him that we had already agreed upon a price and that was it. We were ready to walk out when, of course, suddenly the $250 disappeared. Apparently we surprised him a bit. He said to Shu, "Are you a LaSalle Street attorney or something?" Shu said, "Well, I am an attorney and my office is on LaSalle Street, so I guess the answer is 'Yes'." Those car dealers are sleasy, aren't they?
 
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My brother used to work manufacturing sealed double glazing units that were sold to the industry to those companies that come rounda nd bother you trying to sell you double glazing you don't want or need.
My friend Roy had an appointment for a salesman to come round and my brother gave him a list of things the sales man would say that were lies, things like:

This offer has been running for two months. It actually finished yesterday but I can still give you the special discount if you sign now.

or

This kind of window at this price isn't available from any other company.

or

We particularly like your home. If you give us permission to photograph your windows after they are installed we can give you an extra discount.

He also told him what percentage of the initial quoted price the final quoted price would be.

So Roy sat with the list, ticking them off during the interview, much to the discomfort of the salesman, and the quoted final price was indeed very close to the price my brother predicted.

I don't know if Roy confronted the salesman with it or not but it just shows that you can trust nothing being said by anyone trying to sell you something.

(And in a bit of cross-threading, proof... did I mention that the bridge is made of gold with pearl and diamond inlay?)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by BobHale:

(And in a bit of cross-threading, proof... did I mention that the bridge is made of gold...

You're a dentist when you're not teaching English?
 
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I don't usually post anything personal here, but I'll admit my husband has a reputation in my family for serious haggling ability. What counts in my family is cars. My dad was a mechanic & auto parts man; he could make a car out of next to nothing (say, a chassis). His sons, my brothers, parlayed their inherited talents to the nth degree; it was routine to have twin cars (one functional, one a junker for parts), & one went so far as to build a Harley from a $200 box of loose parts. Bottom line: they knew value/price.

Long ago when we had 3 kids under the age of 8, an unfortunate collision left me temporarily disabled & the family without a 2nd set of wheels. So we were in a serious hurry (I thought). But as we rolled up to the dealership (on the hill next to the highway, in a line of dealerships), more than 6 young men in suits ran down the walkway to meet us. My husband slowly grinned. Over the ensuing evenings, I became accustomed to shepherding the kids [from my crutches] away from the hill & the highway to a nearby hotdog joint &... waiting it out. He simply told him what he wanted & what he would pay (30% below list price). It took about a week.
 
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Geoff sent me one that I like - have you heard of veeblefetzer? It's apparently a placeholder name for any obscure or complicated object or mechanism, such as automobile parts, computer code and model railroad equipment. Love it!
 
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As usual, Wikipedia has an article (which uses exactly the same wording for the definition).


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Yep, sorry about that. I should have credited Wikipedia.
 
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