Everyone Is Jumping Off the Brooklyn Bridge

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Words to Your Mother: Tchotchke

Tchotchke is a Yiddish word for a trinket, knickknack, or other fairly cheap or useless items.  Thus, "Weird Al" Yankovic sang "I'll buy your tchotchkes" in the song "eBay".

While that's interesting in itself, I find Yiddish as a language more interesting.  The way many speak of it today, you'd think it was modern Hebrew.  In reality, the nation of Israel uses Hebrew primarily and Yiddish is not really a major language. Yiddish is a Germanic language that developed in the Jewish culture living in Germany in the 10th century.  It developed and spread over many years to the point that there were 10 million Yiddish speakers before World War II.  The Holocaust led to a decline of Yiddish not just because of the slaughter, but also because of the dissipation that resulted.  As this dissipation happened, though, Yiddish began to slip into other languages and cultures, and we have tchotchke (among many other words) in the English language today because of it.

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