Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Its, It's, Itz?

Every language has its own little tics, its idiosyncrasies, and I hate it. Or at least, I hate that there's no way to know why the Spanish decided to roll their r sounds, why the Irish practically sing when they talk, who decided that clicking noises got to be words, or what it is with German and Yiddish and the itz sound. 
Spritz comes from Yiddish, which got it from German, probably from the proto-Germanic sprut, meaning sprout
My dad used to swim at the JCC, which is how it is that nobody in my family sweats - why would you sweat when you can shvitz? In fact, I don't understand why the Yiddish word shvitz hasn't jumped all the way into the English language. I think we'd all exercise more. Shvitz isn't related to spritz, even though sweat does sort of sprout. Shvitz is from the German schwitzen, going back to the Proto-Indo-European swoyd, meaning sweat
Lenny Kravitz doesn't look too much like his dad Sy Kravitz (though luckily for all of us, Lenny Kravitz looks even less like his cousin Al Roker - yes, really). 

The name Kravitz, tells me, is from the Slavic kravets, meaning tailor, which is freaking awesome considering that his character in The Hunger Games is a tailor. Dude. If only he'd used his tailoring skills on his leather pants in a concert earlier this month...  
Are you so glad that this was the image I chose to go with?
When César Ritz built the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, he probably never imagined that the name would literally become synonymous with luxury. The name Ritz, according to, is a short form of the name Rizo, itself a nickname for RichardRichard, the Internet informs me, is derived from the Germanic ric, meaning ruler, and hard, meaning hard
Ritz Crackers were not invented by the Ritz hotel chain, nor did they steal their name from the Ritz Hotel chain at all (and if you believe that, I've got a Baby Ruth to sell you). In my house we had Hits crackers, which my Gram insisted were Just As Good™. I am sure the similarity of the names was purely coincidental. Same goes for the packaging. And the cracker itself.
BTW, God help you if my Gram sent you
for Hits crackers and you came home with
Ritz Crackers. Do you think we're made out
of fancy cracker money?

"Puttin' on the ritz" was already a popular expression when Irving Berlin wrote the song that would later become German pop star Taco's greatest hit. 
Can't imagine why every girl in the '80s didn't have this
poster on her wall...

Berlin's song was first written in 1927, but the Taco version released in 1983 made Berlin, then 95, the oldest man ever to make the Billboard top 100. Then I fell down a click-hole in which I discovered that Taco's 1983 video for the song included a deeply alarming amount of black face, which was later censored out with judicious use of cheesy 80s blur effects and still photographs of Gary Cooper's face. 
This WTF moment brought to you by Germans. Congrats, Germany, you made it weird.

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