Sun 18 Jan, 2004 10:32 am
A few years ago I came across an article about the countless Yiddishisms that are among the most vivid words now considered part of the English language. I perused the list and tried to use some of them in a silly short story. The list of words follows my story. How many can you use in a piece of your own. Have fun!
TALK YIDDISH TO ME
The Kvetch held her audience of Yentas spellbound as she related her tale of the antics of Murray, the Nebbish Shnorer, at the bakery Maven's Mazal Tov Bagel and Knish shop.
"That Murray," she said, "where he gets all his Chutzpah considering he's such a Gonif, I don't know, already."
"What did he do? What did he do?" anguished the Yentas.
"That no-good Shmeggegi Murray, he tried to sneak Bagels from the rack, but such a Klutz, he was, the Shlemiel knocked the glass of hot tea right out of the Mensch Ruben's hands and it spilled all over the poor Shelmazal's trousers."
"Aach!" the Yenta continued, "Murray thought he could Shmooze his way out of that fine mess. He smiled his Schmaltzy smirk at Ruben and wiggled his Tushie just like the Shmendrick he is and said Oy Vey! No problem, Nu, weren't you going to take your suit to the cleaners this week, already?
LIST OF YIDDISH WORDS:
Bagel and knish are among Yiddish-termed foods that have become popular American favorites.
Chutzpah is amazing nerve or guts, sometimes bordering on arrogance. The "ch" is correctly pronounced by making a sound similar to clearing one's throat.
Gonif, literally a thief, describes anyone engaging in dishonest practices.
Klutz is a clumsy person.
Kvetch is a perpetual complainer; also used as a verb, as in "Stop your kvetching."
Maven is a specialist or expert.
Mazal tov, which literally means good luck, is the traditional Jewish way to say "Congratulations."
Mensch, Yiddish for man, is used to describe a person exhibiting high moral values, consideration for others and kindness. It's the ultimate compliment for a son-in-law, as in "He's a real mensch."
Oy vey literally means "Oh woe." It's the all-purpose Yiddish lament.
Nebbish or nebbich is a pathetic person, loser or nerd.
Nu is used similarly to well or so in English. It is the Yiddish way to nudge---or offer pushy encouragement---to another person. For example, "Nu, when are you gtting married, already?"
Shmeggegi means a person who can't do anything right.
Shlemiel is an unlucky, bungling person who, for example, spills his soup. A shlemazal is the person on whom the soup lands.
Shmaltz, literally fat, is used to describe something overly sentimental. For example, "Aach! That movie is so schmaltzy."
Shmendrick means an insignificant person. It often is used to describe a child as a rascal or "little devil." For example, "My grandson, the shmendrick, has me wrapped around his little finger."
Shmooze is another way to say chat or mingle.
Shnorer, or freeloader, is the person who always stops by during dinner and brings an appetite.
Tuchas, tush or tushie comes from the Yiddish for derriere.
Yenta is used to describe a gossip.