5

I'm wondering if something like this exists in German. The English construction I'm talking about is the one where you can indicate dismissiveness or disdain for a thing by saying a word, then repeating that word with "schm" as the first sound.

A: Well, the doctor told me not to drink too much.

B: Doctor, schmoctor. Wine is good for you!

Is there anything with a similar meaning? Or, is there any similar word-repeating-and-altering construction that has another meaning?

  • 1
    Is that indeed written with "schm", or is "shm" more usual? - Anyway it seems to have come from a Jiddish tradition, I suppose? – Christian Geiselmann Oct 14 '17 at 22:56
  • 1
    Yes, it seems to have come from Yiddish. I think it can be either shm- or schm-. Some good info at Wikipedia - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shm-reduplication – agalick Oct 14 '17 at 23:06
  • 1
    This works best for the Doc because the rhyming Schmock is Yiddish for idiot. Yiddish and German are related closely and German borrowed a lot of terms from it. The Schmock is one of those but non-Jewish people in Germany normally wouldn't use it because they know it's Yiddish. Same for this English Shm-doubling: first I would always think you are making fun of your (most likely excellent) jewish doctor. In addition, schm is a common sound in German as it is in Yiddish. – Janka Oct 14 '17 at 23:22
  • 1
    @Janka: "but non-Jewish people in Germany normally wouldn't use it because they know it's Yiddish." - huh? Since when are Yiddish loanwords avoided for being of Yiddish origin? – O. R. Mapper Oct 15 '17 at 5:09
  • 1
    Have you ever heard someone new-Jewish in Germany calling someone else a Schmock? I haven't. This is specific to the Schmock, I think. – Janka Oct 15 '17 at 8:58
5

This principle will in general not work in German. The best equivalent I see is:

Doktor hin, Doktor her, Wein bekommt dir!

  • 2
    A variant: Doktor hin oder her, ... – Felix Dombek Oct 15 '17 at 16:26
1

In German, you can add a word that rhymes and makes no sense instead:

Doktor, Traktor – Wein bekommt dir!

  • 3
    For the theory (rhyming nonsensical variation of the word): yes, right. But your example is unfortunate. Doktor and Traktor don't even rhyme (by the usual standards of what is considered a rhyme in German.) – Christian Geiselmann Oct 15 '17 at 9:21
1

In German I have never heard anything like that, even not remotely. And I should have, if it was in use.

But interestingly in Bulgarian it is very popular. The sound added there (or put in place instead of the original one) is simply "m".

A: "Vnimanie! Tam ima policai" - B: "Policai-molicai, ne me puka!"

or in the original letters

A: Внимание! Там има полисаи!" Б: "Полицаи-молисаи, не ме пука!"

Which is something like

A: "Attention, over there are policemen!" - B: "Policemen, shmolicemen, I couldn't care less."

As commenter Agalick (see below) correctly points out (referring to the same habit in Turkish) the meaning of this variation with m is first of all "and all sorts of that", e.g.

[On a construction site]

A: "We need more roofing tiles" - B: "I am going to go to the builders' merchant's anyway. Roofing tiles, shmoofing tiles, I will buy everything we need."

A: "Трябват ни още цигли." - Б: "Ще отида към склада и без това. Ще купя цигли-мигли и всичко."

A: "Trjabvat ni ošte cigli." - B: "Šte otida kăm sklada i bez tova. Šte kupja cigli-migli i vsičko."

The main message is here "and stuff like that". There is also a certain disregard of the objects addressed that way, but this is not the essential part. On he other hand, when you use it on police, disregard is intrinsically included as you would not politely say "policemen and stuff like that" either.

  • 1
    Very interesting. Turkish also has a construction with m- , but the meaning is different, not really dismissive. "Polis molis ile konuşuyor" - He's talking to the police-molice - approximately means "to the police and whoever else like that." – agalick Oct 14 '17 at 23:12
  • The Russian variant I know has as prefix the less decent 3-letter word :) I wonder if that exists also in Bulgarian. – c.p. Oct 15 '17 at 6:36
  • 1
    @agalick - So it seems the Turkish and Bulgarian are related; no wonder; there is a lot of interference; these are neighbouring countries anyway, and many Bulgarian citizens have Turkish as their first language. Quite possible that the habit came from Turkey to Bulgaria. – Christian Geiselmann Oct 15 '17 at 8:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.