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  1. #1
    charliedeut's Avatar
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    Default Shmolitics; Shmethics, etc.

    Hi,

    Thanks to someone around the Forum, I discovered the Non Sequitur comic strip. Different characters use expressions like "Politics-shmolitics" or "Ethics-shmethics" with a derisive/humorous demeanor (usually accompnying it with a wave of the hand, as if to get rid of the first term of the couple). And after that, they usually say or do something which is the complete opposite of the term.

    My question is: would such terms ("shmolitics", "shmethics") be understood if mentioned in everyday life, or are they just typical of, and confined to, this comic strip in particular?

    Thank you.

    cahrliedeut
    Last edited by charliedeut; 05-Oct-2012 at 15:22.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    I think it would generally be understood in the US, and in some parts of the UK. Did it start as a Yiddish expression?

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by charliedeut View Post
    My question is: would such terms ("shmolitics", "shmethics") be understood if mentioned in everyday life, or are they just typical of, and confined to, this comic strip in particular?
    I would have said yes until I read Grumpy's post suggesting it might not be that widespread in the UK.

  4. #4
    charliedeut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
    Did it start as a Yiddish expression?
    Not that I know of. However, I have not read all of the comic strips, so it's hard to tell. And then, even I got to read them all, who knows where the idea started.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    I'm pretty sure it did. There are lots of Yiddish words starting with [ʃ] + <consonant-cluster> (schmuck, schlmiel, schtuck, schlep...), and the pairing of one word with a made-up word starting with 'Sch' is widely used - not just in these comicstrips. I first met it in a joke about St Paul being addressed as 'Saul of Tarsus' (his pre-Christian name), to which he replied 'Tarsus Schmarsus, my name's Paul already'.*

    But I don't think it's safe just to say 'Yes, these new words starting 'Sch-' are understood'. They need to be paired (with a rhyming real word). Of course, maybe cult followers of that particular comic strip may pick up the reference given just the 'schm...' word, but in Am Eng (and now in Br Eng too) the device is quite common (using pairs, as described).


    PS * That timeless use of 'already' is also typical of Yiddish-influenced Am English. I've heard it said that the 'TEA' in Tea Party is an acronym for 'Taxed Enough Already'. (And there was I thinking it was a reference to The Boston Tea Party. )
    PPS I've added a c, in deference to the Yiddish, but it's often (or, maybe, mostly) spelt 'shm...'
    Last edited by BobK; 05-Oct-2012 at 14:32. Reason: Added PS

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    Afterthought: as an example of this usage, scroll down to the bottom of this conversation. Note that it doesn't have to be about an abstract noun like politics or ethics - it's just any topic that is not thought worth talking about.

    b

  7. #7
    charliedeut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    I've discussed this point at greater length (with a few references) here.

    b
    Last edited by BobK; 25-Oct-2012 at 11:59.
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  8. #8
    BobK's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    Aargh: Forgive me charliedeut: I edited (and thus removed) your last post to post mine. I hope Red5 can resurrect it - )

    b

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    I'm not sure you did- the post is still there, with the link. I am not sure what content is missing, though.

  10. #10
    charliedeut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Smholitics; Smethics, etc.

    In fact, with the edition, the only change apparent (at least in my computer) is my avatar appearing, instead of Bob's, at the heading of the post.
    Last edited by charliedeut; 26-Oct-2012 at 14:57.
    Please be aware that I'm neither a native English speaker nor a teacher.

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