The Joys of Yiddish - Words-Shmords



Not words, but prefatory sounds, of mockery or dismissal, that "pooh-pooh" the word they prefix.

I.. To negate or deride the meaning of a word, the word is repeated - but with shm - prefixed to the repetition. "The doctor says she has a serious virus? Virus-shmirus, as long as she's O.K." (This is, of course, a variation of the classic "Cancer- shmancer, as long as you're healthy.") "The mayor? Mayor- shmayor, it's his wife who runs the show." "Exams-shmexams, relax!" "Girls-shmirls, anything to keep him from working! " "Who said that? Charley? Charley-shmarley, what does he know?"

2. Sh- is the introductory signal to a rich symphony of disesteem. A great many words of mockery and aspersion, words that jeer, sneer and scorn (Jeer, Sneer, & Scorn could be the name of a real-estate firm) begin with sh-: shlemiel, shlimazl, shloomp, sbmegegge, shmo, shmuck, shnook, shnorrer.

If you eschew the sh- and shm- sounds, you rob Yinglish of two of its phonetic glories.

Mrs. Siegel confided to her neighbor that her son had gone through so miserable a phase that he was now seeing a psychoanalyst. "And the doctor says my Marvin is suffering from an Oedipus complex!"

"Oedipus-Shmoedipus," scoffed her neighbor, "so long as he loves hjs mother .'




Pronounced SHAH-biss, to rhyme with “novice.” Hebrew: shabbat: “rest,” or “ cessation of labor.”




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