Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Mon Feb 28 20:02:16 UTC 2000

My Yiddish is all acquired late, but Kitsch and Schlock are, for me,
exactly as Andrea describes them.

>As someone who was raised in a household which threw in the occasional Yiddish
>term or phrase, I can say that "tchotchke" is not pejorative.  It suggests a
>size and a price (small and low), but has no negative implications when
>used in
>the traditional Yiddish sense.  For a pejorative Yiddish term for cheap
>trinkets/souvenirs/gee-gaws, I would use "schlock".  "Kitsch" to me, while
>a bit
>negative, tends to be negative in the sense of useless, cheap, and above all,
>tacky.  "Schlock" is stronger, referring to the quality, like calling
>"crap" but with an air of sleaze.
>I don't know how folks with indirect exposure to Yiddish terms would define
>them, though.
>Diana Sheron Fingar wrote:
>> 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.

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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