A Schultz By Any Other Spelling
Know your German surnames
Writing about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whom President Obama named the head of the Democratic National Committee, is a copy editor’s nightmare: There are so many different ways to spell that surname! And, as with most German Jewish names, there is the confusion as to whether the name’s owners are Deutschen or landsleit. Forthwith, a taxonomy:
Schultz: This is the spelling that gets by far the most Google hits (over 40 million), so it should be your default; its most famous adherent is probably Howard Schultz, the Starbucks honcho. It is derived from the German Schultheiss, a title that was essentially the equivalent of “mayor” in medieval Germany. So there were probably not too many Jewish ones of these, and indeed there are many non-Jewish Schultzes. Then again, Howard is Jewish, and so is Debbie, and it certainly is not strange to have a Jewish Schultz.
Schulz: This gets the second-most Google hits. It also connoted an official of some kind—it’s the German equivalent of the English surname Constable—and many Schulzes, including the most famous (Charles, of Peanuts), are not Jewish. But some are: The Polish novelist Bruno Schulz was killed in the Holocaust.
Shultz: This gets scarcely over four million Google hits (i.e., not many). At this point, unless you are going for Reagan-era Secretary of State George P. (who was not Jewish), you are probably misspelling one of the two above.
Shulz: Not even 500,000 Google hits. This is probably most useful if you are trying to do Yiddishkeit hip-hop, as in the lyric, “Got more shoes than Brooklyn’s got shulz,” which I just made up.
Bottom line: If you are writing this surname, you almost certainly want that c following the S. Of course, Debbie Wasserman Schultz was born Debbie Wasserman—Wasserman being another one of those could-go-either-way German surnames (although it tends to go the Jewish way more often than Schul(t)z). And let’s not get started on Wasserman vs. Wassermann … .
Earlier: Wasserman Schultz to Run D.N.C.
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.