Stick to Business, Pozhalsta

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Jul 29 20:07:04 UTC 2002

In a message dated 07/29/2002 10:58:37 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
RonButters at AOL.COM writes:

> BUTTER can be a verb

Yes, as in "to butter a brick", meaning (for a bricklayer) to coat a brick
with mortar before placing it in the wall or other brick item being
constructed.  Since mortar is quite alkaline (due to the slaked lime in it),
then "to butter him up" obviously means "to be extremely caustic towards him".

And if you make a mistake with the mortar, then you get to use one of my
favorite English expressions (which I will use now because I NEVER get the
proper context for it): you call in an artisan known as a "tuckpointer" who
performs the actions of tucking and pointing.

All I can say about "pupek" is that my wife's family uses it to mean giblets.
 It is possible that this usage is due to the location in which Empire
Poultry packs the giblets in a frozen Kosher turkey.

     - Jim Landau (non-Yiddish speaker)

P.S.  In my most recent "Odessa" thread post, I failed to state that the
copyright date of Volume I of the Jewish Encyclopedia is 1901.  Also for
"Rosenthal's biography" read "Rosenthal's bibliography."

I have no idea when the NYPL acquired the name of "New York Public Library"
but circa 1900 is plausible, since a lot of public libraries were founded
with Carnegie money about that time.

In a message dated 07/29/2002 12:55:31 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
mam at THEWORLD.COM writes:

> Is there a non-productive suffix "-ma", or even a number of words that
>  happen to end in "-ma" with no common synchronic or diachronic origin?
>  ISTM, albeit without examining the matter in a scholarly way, that folk
>  etymology is willing to seize on even a chance resemblance in form, so
>  this lack, circumscribed as it is in this description, means little.

You're putting Descartes before de horse.  By definition, a folk etymology is
one that seizes on a chance resemblance in form, e.g. "Jerusalem artichoke"
from "girasole".

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