Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 4 09:31:49 UTC 2001

At 5:00 PM -0500 3/4/01, James A. Landau wrote:
>In a message dated 03/03/2001 10:52:35 AM Eastern Standard Time,
>ezra_50 at HOTMAIL.COM writes:
>>  ""We didn't see boo," Dr. Sherrod said.
>>   Has this been documented before?
>>   I couldn't find the bare "boo" on an Internet search, but I did find
>>   "diddly-boo" which would support an equivalence with "squat".
>>   But I thought it was odd for the NYT just to hang that out there like it
>>   would be familiar to all.
>The following is doubtful, but still worth asking:
>Is there any chance that "boo" is an Anglicization of Yiddish "bubkes"?
>>>From Leo Rosten _The Joys of Yiddish_
>     "bubkes" [also spelt in English] "bobkes"---Something trivial, worthless,
>insultingly disproportionate to expectations. "I worked on it three
>hours---and what did he give me?  BUBKES!"'
I would say no.  I can't imagine getting from "bubkes" (usually in my
experience pronounced as though it were spelled "bupkiss", but in any
case with a schwa or wedge vowel) to "boo".  And that also wouldn't
explain why by far the most occurrences of the English
minimizer/squatitive form are with "say" as the verb, while "didn't
say bubkes" is not a particularly common collocation in Yinglish.


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