Take my ‘chachtskis’ – please

Listen up:

There are no skis in chachkas.


Wait. Let’s try that again: There are no skis in chotchkes.

One more time:  There are no skis in tchotchkes, delightful or otherwise.

There are no skis in chachkas or tchotchkes or (oh, you know) because chachkas or tchotchkes or whatever is pronounced with a schwa. That’s the sound you get when you make an “e” do a headstand. It looks like this: ə. It sounds like this: uh. (Everybody say it: uhhhhhhh.)

So those thingamabobs in the classified ad are pronounced choch-kuhs, which you’d know if you spoke Yiddish, which is what the word is.

Of course, here in the Midwest, most of us aren’t Yiddish but we still like to throw out the occasional Yiddish word because saying chachkas or tchotchkes or schmeer (fooled you, didn’t I?) sounds more cosmopolitan than cheap doodads, which is what chachkas or tchotchkes or (OK, I’ll do it one more time) chotchkes are.

There’s nothing wrong with that, except when that co-opted pronunciation makes us spell like schlubs. Or is it shlubs? Or maybe it’s  …

Where’s Henny Youngman when you need him?

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