I subscribe to “A.Word.A.Day,” by Anu Garg. Every day a new word, its definition, and a quotation using it pops into my inbox (now, there’s a word whose meaning has expanded). There’s an etymology, a way to hear the word pronounced, and even a “visual thesaurus.”
At any rate, there’s a different theme each week, and last week’s theme was words from Yiddish: “schmeer” (which my non-Yiddish-speaking spell-check immediately changed to “schemer” – but I caught it), “noodge,” “shamus,” “golem,” and “schmegeggy.” Almost as a bonus, the theme for this week is words with unusual initial consonants, and one is “kvetch.”
The Yiddish theme was introduced with this anecdote: “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.’ One wonders how he would have completed, ‘and Yiddish to…'”
The post continued, “Yiddish, a language full of wit and charm, embodies a deep appreciation of human behavior in all its colorful manifestations. This week we’ll look at a few Yiddishisms that have enriched the English language. Add these words from Yiddish to bring a little zest to your conversation.”
Instead of “zest,” Garg might have used “tam,” flavor – but I shouldn’t kvetch.
For information on how to subscribe, go to www.wordsmith.org.