Monday, March 03, 2008


I wonder about the word “onomatopoeia.” I wonder if a better word could have been used. It can’t be used to describe itself because there is no sound to mimic.

Yiddish is definitely an onomatopoeiac language not so much because the words mimics any particular sound, but the words sound exactly like the activity or state of mind which it describes. When you hear the word “schlep” you immediately know what it means.
See if you can tell the meaning of the words below by their sound:
Chutzpah, Dreck, Glitch, Kibits, Klutz, Meshuga, Nebbish, Putz, Schlemiel, Schmo, Schnoz, Shtick, Yutz…

These words and most Yiddish words are perfectly descriptive of the situation without translation.

OK, admit it. Most of you had no idea what an onomatopoeia was when you first started reading this. Had the word been Yiddish you would have understood it perfectly.


Blogger Donna said...

I still have no idea what it means, although I seem to remember some elementary school teacher using the word and perhaps even telling what it means. Now I'm off to see what it means for sure.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Now that was funny. You're such a mensch.

6:27 AM  
Blogger Auntie said...

I DID know what it meant. And, Guy a Mencsh? Yeah, I guess.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Boo, hiss - I did know what an onomatopoeia is!

And another great Yiddish word - schmuck. (Not you...)

7:08 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Donna, it is when the word mimics the sound of what it describes. Like "Click" is the word and the sound.

Lori, Oy!

Auntie,Afh yenems tukhes is gut sepatchen!

Beth, I would expect you to know it. I bet you are good with puzzles.

9:41 AM  
Blogger weese said...

I knew - I even knew it before Tod Rundgren.

9:54 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Weese, and it doesn't even have anything to do with recycling. I'm proud of you, Darlin.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

Fabulous Yiddish word: Tchotske. Know what it means?

11:57 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

A collection of junk or trivial items is what I've always thought it to mean.

5:27 AM  
Blogger weese said...

ha... I am sooo not all about recycling - I did have that sordid past after all ;)

9:37 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

If you write it, I'll read it. Maybe even comment on it.

10:03 AM  

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