Everybody’s fool


Ordinary Moments by Ali Bektas

Howdy, folks!

I know that it may look intentional once again, but it’s not my fault, A.Word.A.Day. was in the mood for insults in the past few days. Well, probably it’s my guilty conscience (Italians say coda di paglia) that leads me to think that all my recent posts look correlated and focused on someone or something, but I must confess that for a few days I’ve been madly gloating over this series of put-downs. A clarification is needed: last week’s word aside, this weekly selection by A.W.A.D. is a collection of terms borrowed from Yiddish and – as Anu Garg says – no one in the world moans better than a Yiddish speaker. I suppose that these habitual ‘kvetchers’ (to use a Yiddish word) also include some picturesque invectives in their jeremiads.  This one, for example. That’s probably the reason of this concentration of offensive words in a single week. Considering the period I’m going through, I’ve welcome this selection with open arms. My subconscious is probably emerging, but these words had a healing effect on me. As told, it was not my intention, but this is a golden opportunity to call I-know-who with the words I-would-like-tell. Hail hail!

schmo or schmoe or shmo

noun: A stupid, boring, or obnoxious person.
A truncated form of schmuck (an idiot), from Yiddish schmok (penis). Earliest documented use: 1948.
The word is also used in the phrase Joe Schmo, as a more colorful synonym for John Doe.
“Just because I work at a bar does not mean I want to date every schmo that walks in here.”
Joey Guerra; Bartender Confessions: Jodi Minear; Houston Chronicle (Texas); Dec 9, 2010.
ITALIAN TRANSLATION: stupido, cretino, idiota
In all honesty, I was tempted to translate it with the first word that crossed my mind, but I guess I’m indulging a bit too much in coarse language (this is the insult week so this time it might be allowed)  so I used the translation provided by one from the multitude of online dictionaries. Anyway, if you take a better look at the word that originated the term Schmo, you will probably agree with my conclusion that the coarse word would be the most appropriate translation. For the records, the word I was thinking of is the literal translation of the Yiddish term and I can assure you that it’s broadly used here with the same meaning.

A curious thing on the word: I didn’t know it, but in American English the expression Joe Schmo, (source Oxford Dictionary) has a similar meaning as John Doe, i.e. an hypothetical ordinary person (though the latter is mostly used in the legal context). Now I’m thinking: are ordinary people really considered schmos in the U.S.? In my home country we define ordinary people using the most widespread name and surname in that area – for example, Mario Rossi in Milan or Giuseppe Esposito in Naples. I think it’s fair, because it doesn’t give any negative connotation to the ‘man on the street’, it’s just an indication of someone from the multitude. I would feel offended if someone called me schmo, honestly, and I might be surely defined as such, since I’m an ordinary woman. We are all ordinary people, after all ….

Well folks, I’m going to leave you with a couple of listening suggestions that are subtly hinted at in the post. A preliminary remark: it’s some rock stuff, so keep out if you don’t like loud music.  Can you spot them? The first one is quite visible, it’s … the title! It’s Everybody’s Fool by Evanescence. The second is a song by one of my favourite rock bands, Pearl Jam, and it’s called Hail, hail (j’adore!)

That’s all folks!

See you soon …

Your passionate (Italian) Translator


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