David Bergdahl bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sat Feb 26 15:39:48 UTC 2000

On Sat, 26 Feb 2000, Dennis R. Preston wrote:

> Careful! Lots of us South Midlands persons have traditionally decorated our
> homes with tchotchkes (although we didn't know what to call them). My
> mawmaw would have called them "pretties' (pronounced "purdies," of course,
> and distinct from "play pretties"=children's toys).
> dInIs (who is very fond of his house-full of tchotchkes)
> dInIs
> >I'm afraid I don't have an English context/date pre-1964 for
> >"tchotchkes", but I'm wondering why anyone would want to have an
> >exhibit of them. Tchotchkes are junky ugly little knicknacks, like
> >you'd get on vacation, or junk out of people's attics. It's a
> >perjorative term.
> >
> >Also, I'm 21 and mostly from SE Ohio (my folks are from Chicago and
> >Long Island) -- never heard "picayune" except in Bloom County and never
> >knew what it meant.
> >
> >Diana Fingar
> >
> >PS: If you've ever been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that place
> >is FULL of tchotchkes. Not worth the price of admission. But the actual
> >architechture of the building's nice.
The place to look for variant spellings of tchotchke (my wife uses the
Littvak variant) is Leo Rosen's The Joys of Yiddish.  The German word for
such items is kitsch (derived from the cabinet they're housed in, I
believe). The word has been generalized to mean anything 'campy' such as
lawn balls (colored mercury inside glass globes), Elvis on velvet &c.
David Bergdahl          Ellis Hall 366         Ohio University / Athens
Associate Prof/English  tel:  (740) 593-2783   fax:  (740) 593-2818
                        bergdahl at

More information about the Ads-l mailing list