Sunday, February 19, 2006

schmooze and shul

I guess a better title would be "don't schmooze in shul".

As I've mentioned before, I don't know a lot about Yiddish. But many Yiddish words have entered Jewish English, or English in general. It's interesting to analyze their etymologies, since Yiddish derives from two separate languages families - Hebrew, which I speak in Israel, and German, which is related to my native tongue, English.

Let's look at two common Yiddish words.

Schmooze (or shmooze) - this one comes from Hebrew. The Hebrew word for rumors, שמועות shmu'ot, led to the Ashkenazi pronunciation schmues, which led to our schmooze - to chat.

Shul (or schul or schule) - as in synagogue, comes from the German word schuol, which is also the source of our English word school. According to this site, the association of synagogue and school goes back to Roman times - children were often taught in the same building as the synagogue.

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