Schmus, n.

David Bergdahl bergdahl at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Tue Jul 31 15:00:59 UTC 2001

1st half of the 19thC < thieves' cant (rotwelsch) is what my Reclams
Etymologisches Woerterbuch says.  There's also a verb schmusen meaning
"to chatter."  But an anecdote reveals how different meanings can be.
When my first wife--a Bavarian speaker--died I was visited by a family
friend who's Jewish and who sprinkles her English with Yiddish
expressions.  She told me she had come over just to schmoose.  I was
taken aback.  Rather than meaning "engage in friendly conversation" I
was used to schmuzing as, well, "foreplay." :-)  Just one of the ways
two closely related dialects can c ause misunderstanding.  (My first
wife used to pride herself on the fact that she could understand her
friend's Yiddish-only grandmother while her friend couldn't.)
-- db
David Bergdahl
tel:  (740) 593-2783
366 Ellis Hall     Ohio University  Athens, Ohio 45701-2979       fax:
(740) 593-2818

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