Thursday, March 20, 2008

"I should live so long" -- three more handy Yiddish words

A New York Times quote of the day from last year:
"There used to be a saying in New York, 'I should live so long.' "
-- William J. Ronan, the first chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, discussing the on-and-off plans for a Second Avenue subway, first announced in 1929.

The Joys of Yiddish (from

Yiddish, a language full of wit and charm, embodies a deep appreciation of human behavior in all its colorful manifestations. Here are three more Yiddish words that have enriched the English language.
Here's a link to a glossary of Yiddish.
Become a maven of Yiddish in your schmoozing, and oy! how the yentas' tongues will wag!

yenta (YEN-tuh) noun A busybody or a gossip. [From Yiddish yente, originally a female name.]
"Q. How do you describe what you do? A. I'm a yenta. I can't wait to learn new things. And then to tell people about them."
-- Claudia Dreifus; Latter-Day Mr. Wizard Expounds on the Joy of Science; The New York Times; Apr 4, 2000.

schmooze (shmooz) verb intr. To chat, especially in order to gain an advantage or to make a social or business connection with an influential person.
noun A gossipy or ingratiating chat. [From Yiddish shmues (chat, gossip), from Hebrew shemuah (reports, rumor).
"Of course, there are exclusives in all newspapers that are genuinely a result of hard work by reporters, either through digging or just schmoozing with politicians."
-- Anne Davies; Truth Loses When Only Half the Story Will Do; The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia); Jul 3, 2006.

maven (MAY-vuhn) noun An expert, connoisseur, or enthusiast. [From Yiddish meyvn, from Hebrew mebhin (one who understands).]
"The panelists are a who's who of television and film mavens."
-- James Adams; TV Networks Can Relax; The Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada); Jun 12, 2006.

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