(Fwd) Re: (Fwd) more on -nik

Fri Feb 11 22:16:41 UTC 2000

I have been forwarding the posting on Russian influence on American
English to the Russian studies librarian here.  She offers this

"The way my grandmother used "nudnik" it meant an idiot, although I
suppose it could have meant an annoying idiot, and therefore a nudge.
-nik in  Russian is a diminuative and therefore has either an
affectionate or a denigrating connotation.  For example, "sputnik"
means "fellow traveler" and was used for those who went along with
the Russian Revolution, even if they weren't ecstatically
enthusiastic. Chainik means teapot (chai=tea)."

She was commenting on Larry Horn's message, below:

"No, nudnik is not related to nudity.  I wanted to make sure what the
actual derivation was, although I suspected previous posters
(relating it to "noodge") were basically right.  Here's Ellen Prince,
my expert on all things Yiddish, on -nik:
in slavic it's simply a nominalizing suffix -- makes a noun out of
anything, including a noun -- or so it seems without looking closely, of
course. but we do know sputnik and /tshaynik/ 'teapot', from /tshay/ 'tea'.
ok, in yiddish
it's always an *agent* -- so nudnik (from nudzhen 'annoy'), and a
ton of others less famous in english. now yinglish is clearly
influenced by yiddish (surprise, surprise) in beatnik, refusenik...

(the one exception in yiddish is in fact /tshaynik/ -- and the
standard explanation is that it was taken in toto, not made up in
yiddish of its parts.)"


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