Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What is your favorite word?

The Davis Enterprise's man-on-the-street question this week was, "What is your favorite word?" Although I think it's a good question, the answers published were rather uninspired.

‘Bungalow,’ because it’s fun to say. ...  ‘Dunno,’ because I say that a lot. ... ‘Hello.’ When you meet somebody, you don’t want to say the other words. ... I heard my friend say ‘aardvark’ today. I’m not quite sure what it is. I think it’s an animal. ... “Paradise.” ... “I like ‘ey-ther’ instead of ‘ee-ther.’ It just really stands out to me.”

I am not sure I have a favorite word. I love a lot of words, but none rises to the level of favorite. One I especially appreciate comes from Yiddish: naches (pronounced with a throat-clearing kh sound in the middle, NOCK-kuss).

Naches is the pride a parent feels for his child. That's an important component of Jewish culture. Jewish parents tend to be very devoted to their children, doting and supportive. They feel naches, for accomplishments large and small. A Yiddishe mama will hold her head up high in pride when her smart son brings home an A on his report card; and she will feel naches if her lazy daughter makes her bed.

"Harold, you should have been there!" Trudy exclaimed to her husband. "Ira had a bowel movement this morning, and he wiped himself. No help from me!"

"Such naches for that?" Harold asked.

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