WOTY suggestion

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 24 00:42:22 UTC 2013

I've long been a user of "schmutz" ("smutz" below, which can't be German
but I've heard Americans pronounce it that way in the Midwest; also
sometimes transliterated from Yiddish as "shmuts" which occasionally is
pronounced open, making me laugh), but only recently started noticing
its frequency picking up in the Northeast (don't expect it to be
available everywhere as its Yinglish appeal is very limited). I've had
arguments with some speakers who claim its meaning is limited to "dirt"
(particularly in German), but it's really used in Yiddish in a much
wider range of meanings: fringes (both literally and metaphorically),
dust, dust bunnies, crumbs, dregs, small junk, house dirt. For German,
Google Translate adds filth, grime, mud, smut, muck, dung (the GT
Yiddish subset was actually smaller, but it did find it--had to spell it
in Yiddish). Not suggesting it for WOTY yet--just not wide enough
distribution. But bears watching.


PS: OED has it from 1968, as does Wiktionary, both with the sch-
spelling. I'm sure it would have been in use turn-of-the-century in both
NYC and Cincinnati.

On 10/23/2013 11:16 AM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
> ...Sort of a second-hand smutz...

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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