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Would you consider the use of the word "schmuck" in an informal, technical communiqué offensive? I'm aware of its derivation (its origins are in the Yiddish word for "penis"); my contention is that it's an English word not listed as "vulgar" or "usually offensive" in either of my dictionaries. It was not used in the second person or as any part of any kind of ad hominem attack, either.


The censors around here are apparently wanting us all to not only consider the meanings of words but their etymologies as well, which I think is bullshit, but I'm interested in other opinions.

Comments

( 6 comments — Comment )
recursive
May. 10th, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Unless you're Jewish, you're not allowed to use Yiddish words? :)

Damn, the French should be pissed at us for all we've borrowed.
szasz
May. 11th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
We're just getting back at them for "le weekend".
gmmelliemel
May. 11th, 2007 12:51 am (UTC)
People are kvetching about "schmuck"? They're meshuggah.
pilotgoddess
May. 11th, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
Wow if schmuck was the only word I used at work, well then I would be ranking up there with all my mormon co-workers. I do not rank that holy however.
signsoflife
May. 11th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't regard it as vulgar or offensive, but I'd consider it too strongly personal an insult to put in a professional memo. "We don't want this open to any schmuck who comes along" would be fine (though quite informal); "The guy from Cisco is being a schmuck" would be rude. Based on your description I assume you're talking about the former kind of case, and I think people are being silly. Though if they're so etymologically obsessed (I didn't know schmuck came from penis!) you might substitute schlemiel to good effect.
szasz
May. 11th, 2007 01:17 pm (UTC)
I would agree with the line you draw, and in fact "We don't want this open to any schmuck who comes along" is almost exactly the context in question (the exact quote is "we don't want to be known in the national press as the place some unknown schmuck used our unsecured wireless to threaten the president").
( 6 comments — Comment )

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