"the whole schlemiel"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 20 17:38:17 UTC 2009

Unless it's a NYC thing or some Seinfeldianism, it makes little sense to
me too. "The whole shmear" just doesn't sound right... Of course, there
are a lot of yidcorns out there that have little to do with their
Yiddish origins. This could be one of them--kind of like the evolution
of "mano a mano", which far too many American monolinguals think means
"man to man". (And no, I did not mean to imply that "mano a mano" has
anything to do with Yiddish ;-)


Laurence Horn wrote:
> At 11:23 AM -0500 8/20/09, Jim Parish wrote:
>> Seen in an online discussion of health-care reform:
>> "I don't get it. Even if some Democrats want the whole schlemiel...
>> [laundry list of possible features], it still doesn't change the fact that
>> none of these things are in this particular bill."
>> Google gives about 1470 hits for "whole schlemiel"; some are spurious
>> ("the whole 'schlemiel, schlemazel' thing"), but most seem to use it in
>> place of "the whole schmear" or something similar.
> Or, to switch ethnicities, "the whole shebang".  At least I assume
> that's Hibernian, although the AHD says origin unknown.  "The whole
> enchilada" is possible semantically, but unlikely to be a blend
> source phonologically.  "The whole shmear"?  Really?  That seems
> impossible to me, but then I know what a shmear is, at least in New
> York.  "The whole megilla", yes, but again the phonology is off.
> LH

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