July 15, 2008, - 5:05 pm

HOprah Watch Language Studies: Oprah Invented Yiddish!

By Debbie Schlussel
It was bad enough when Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet. But, now, Oprah claims she created Yiddish–the German-Hebrew hybrid spoken by most Jews in Europe in the early 20th Century and the centuries prior.
Today–in a show that’s a re-run–Oprah Winfrey claims she invented the word “Shlumpedinka,” a word she uses to describe a sloppily dressed person. In a pretty conceited segment (and isn’t the whole show and Oprah enterprise a giant monument to the conceit that is Oprah?), Oprah showed various clips of herself using the word “Shlumpedinka” over the years, and then she repeatedly said these, “I made up the word,” “I don’t remember when I made up the word,” I don’t know how I came up with the word, I just invented it.”
Yup, a regular genius, this one. And a plagiarist.

oprahallnatural.jpg

Oprah: All Natural Faux Yiddish Wordsmith

In fact, Oprah never invented any such word. She ain’t that smart. The word “schlumpy” or “shlumpy” has been in usage in the common American vernacular since well before Oprah was a known personality. It’s what is known as “Yinglish” or a “Yiddishism,” both of which mean Yiddish slang that is a mixture of Yiddish and English. The word–which means sloppy, slovenly, or coarse in appearance or behavior/personality–comes from the Yiddish world Zhlub, often pronounced Schlub (to the lazy tongue), which has the same definition as Schlumpy.
That Oprah adds the “dinka” part to the end of it, is also not her invention, as many Jews–like my grandparents from Poland–who also spoke Polish, used “ka” or “inka” as suffixes to a an adjective to make it into a noun descriptor. For example, my late maternal grandfather always called leftist U.S. Senator Carl Levin–for whom he would never vote (nor would I)–a “linka,” which means leftist.
Though she would now like us to think she’s so funny and creative and take credit for the Yiddish language, in fact Oprah did NOT invent the world Shlumpedinka, just as she did not do a host of other things for which she would like to take credit in America. Oprah surrounds herself with a number of left-wing Jewish associates–Jews who hate Judaism and Israel even more than Oprah does. That’s probably where she heard and from which she appropriated the term.
Unlike Oprah’s claim, Shlumpedinka is like another word that became common to the Jews in America, and became a fancy word in the English vernacular: copacetic (also, copasetic). The word came from the fact that many Jewish immigrants in New York in the early 1900s used a Hebrew term, which was changed into American slang. The Hebrew phrase, “Kol B’Seder,” meaning “everything’s in order” or “everything’s okay,” was not properly heard or pronounced by many non-Jews in the New York area. They turned it into “copacetic,” as in everything is “copacetic,” meaning everything is okay.
That’s often how the English language evolves in America. But it ain’t got nothin’ to do with the self-anointed new female Webster and Yiddish plagiarist.
So, to sum up:
* Al Gore–the Internet;
* Oprah–Yiddish . . . and
* “Shlumpedinka,” the term that Oprah falsely claims as her invention, but which best describes the horrid values she’s projected onto America and the rest of the world: slovenly, unkempt, boorish, and disgusting.
Again, girl ain’t no wordsmith.

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11 Responses

What’s next? Will Hussein increase his use of Yiddish terms to show how close and copacetic he is with the Jewish people? If I didn’t know better, I’d think maybe Oprah is a trial run.

c f on July 15, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Sorry, Debbie, but I believe you are incorrect regarding the origin of copacetic – I remember seeing the word in a story, novel, or essay by Mark Twain that I read some years ago, but I can’t cite the exact source. However, I’m positive that he did use the word, and this would be no later than 1910, the year of his death.
[CS: NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO DID AN EXTENSIVE SEGMENT ON THE WORD “COPACETIC” AND ITS ORIGINS. WHILE I’M NOT ONE TO BELIEVE MOST OF WHAT’S ON NATIONAL PALESTINIAN RADIO, I BELIEVED THE LONG NEWS REPORT ON IT. WILL CHECK INTO IT. DS
**** UPDATE: LOOKS LIKE WE ARE BOTH RIGHT, AND I AM PARTIALLY WRONG. THE NPR REPORT WAS PARTIALLY WRONG, TOO. APPARENTLY, COPACETIC OR COPASETIC IS BELIEVED TO COME FROM THOSE JEWISH/HEBREW ORIGINS, BUT THAT IT COME FROM THE JEWISH IMMIGRATION WAVE TO NEW YORK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 1900S. I AM CORRECTING THIS ENTRY TO REFLECT THAT.
THANKS, CS. YOUR MEMORY AND KNOWLEDGE IS IMPRESSIVE AND I STAND PARTIALLY CORRECTED. DS]

commonsense on July 15, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Debbie,
I’m glad you expose oprah for what she is. Fake and Inaccurate. I used to be drawn into her because of her story but over the years, something didn’t sit right with me on some of the stances she’s take and guests she’d have on her program trying to whitewash the facts. I hope her backing obama will leave so much egg on her face. I find her igorance a danger to the masses who follow her. And if anyone doubts this, this woman is the one who upholds dr. phil (aka the next jerry springer)..GROAN!

diaphanous on July 15, 2008 at 9:58 pm

SCARED to discuss the New Yorker cover, so you gotta pick on Oprah???
For the record—no one has to register to post on my site…and i REALLY wanna hear what you Reich-wingers gotta say about it…LOL

EminemsRevenge on July 15, 2008 at 10:21 pm

If Oprah was a man, I suppose we could refer to her as a “schmuck” or a “putz”. Or maybe a shlimeil. (sp?) I can’t remember what that latter term means, though, but I bet it isn’t a compliment. Yiddish and the slang that spun off of it is a pretty cool and versatile language I think and one that could probably be learned quickly and easily.

Ron Taylor on July 16, 2008 at 12:15 am

It trully isn’t know where it originated as the word can be derived from several different languages…However,
The earliest known usage given in the Oxford English Dictionary is from the Irving Bacheller 1919 biography of Abraham Lincoln…
Creole, African Americans in south, Hebrew, Chinook Jargon(look itup), also oddly enough Italian via the American Mobsters of the 20’s..However Debbie is right, no historical footnote mentions the name Oprah.

Tblanc69 on July 16, 2008 at 12:40 am

i’m reading the Zohar now and noticed that ALPHABET’s origin could be Hebrew rather than Greek!!!
STILL think all this nitpicking is y’all being afraid to touch the New Yorker cover, although i gotta give props to the political prostitute doing so— http://www.nypost.com/seven/07162008/postopinion/opedcolumnists/why_kumbaya_cant_fight_terror_120101.htm

EminemsRevenge on July 16, 2008 at 6:28 am

“It was bad enough when Al Gore claimed he invented the Internet.”
He never did.

No Pasaran! on July 16, 2008 at 7:59 am

I have to agree with the last poster. Al Gore never claimed to have “invented” the internet. He did once say that he took the initiative in transforming the military ARPAnet into what we now know as the internet. And, by the way, this is true.

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