Schmatte

I love it when words from other languages make it into American usage, because I think they make our lexica* so much richer and fuller.

Schmatte is one such word. Schmatte is Yiddish for “an old ragged garment or tattered article of clothing.” It can also be used as a joke, as in the t-shirt pictured in this post. And, it can also be used to refer to a truly hideous garment.

Unfortunately, as with other international words, such as voila, I have seen schmatte misspelled quite a few times, including twice in the past 24 hours alone. Neither “shmatta” nor “schmatta” is correct; however, I can absolutely understand why they would be, especially if a person is not familiar with German and Yiddish, both of which use an E at the end of a word to create an “ah” sound.

 

* I am of mixed feelings about the plural of lexicon. Lexica is preferred – but feels slightly pretentious when I use it (plus it sounds like the name of an overpriced car) — but even though I know that lexicons is also acceptable, it feels incorrect when I use it, as if I did not know that lexica is preferred.

Coupons

I was out shopping recently and, as I left a store, someone handed me a piece of paper and said, “Here is a coupon for you.” I smiled, but inwardly I was gritting my teeth.

Want to know why?

Because the person in question pronounced coupon as “kew-pon” (or Q-pon). While this is an acceptable secondary pronunciation, the primary (and preferred) pronunciation is “koo-pon.” Not a Q sound in evidence.  I checked several dictionaries, just to make sure and they’re all in agreement on this one.  Furthermore, a couple of them got sniffy and insisted that pronouncing coupon as “kew-pon” is a sign of a lack of education. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, as I think it is also a regional thing.

How do you pronounced coupon?

It’s there, no matter what

This time of year, I hear a lot of complaining about putting the Christ back in Christmas. Much of this has to do with the religion or lack thereof in the holiday, but I’m not going to discuss that here. However, one area in which I’ve seen/heard complaint is in the usage of Xmas instead of Christmas.

Many is the time that I have seen or heard people complaining that Xmas is wrong and/or offensive. Actually, Xmas has been in use for a long time and is considered to be an acceptable version of Christmas.  According to  Wikipedia,  the X comes from the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of the word Χριστός, which is translated as Christ. And, X is often used to mean the cross on which Christ died.

So, while you might not like Xmas, it is technically not incorrect.

You, me, he, I, and more…

I seriously cannot believe I haven’t griped about this common error, but today is your lucky day.

I often hear or read statements like the following:

  • “Bob made my husband and I a…”
  • “He left the house, leaving she and I alone for the day….”

These are wrong, wrong, wrong and I want to weep with frustration when I hear or read them. The correct phrases would be:

  • “Bob made my husband and me a…”
  • “He left the house, leaving her and me alone for the day…” (Actually, in this example, the better way to say it would be “…leaving us alone for the day” but I’m trying to illustrate a point here.)

Think of it like this: You wouldn’t say “George gave I a sweater” nor would you say “Fred gave Mark and I a blender.” The correct way would be “George gave me a sweater” and “Fred gave Mark and me a blender.”

This works with all pronouns that are the objects of the verbs. The simplest way to check yourself is to break it down the way I did in the paragraph above.

The greetings of the season

Someone emailed me recently to ask which is correct — Season’s Greetings or Seasons’ Greetings. I thought I knew the answer to this, but just to be sure, I did some research before responding to the email.

The correct greeting is Season’s Greetings, because you are offering the greetings of this holiday season. Or, you could just say Merry Christmas.