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Jews and Italians May Basically Be the Same

… but Yiddish is still Yiddish, Rep. Pelosi!

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At the end of her first segment on The Daily Show last night, Jon Stewart tells Rep. Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, “Purely as an outside observer, it seems fakarkte to me, and that’s … Jewish, but … alright.” To which Pelosi responds, “I thought that was Italian! Is that Jewish?”

Dude. “Fakarkte,” corruption of verkakte. You represent a tony part of San Francisco; your father was mayor of Baltimore. Come on.

Do we think this is as bad as Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s mangling of “chutzpah”?

(8:30 mark)

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Please elaborate on “a tony part of San Francisco.” #FAIL

Paul Brandon says:

A “tony part of SF” means that a guy named Tony lives next door.
Of course, Italians and Jews both talk with their hand…. tie either of our hands behind our backs and we’d be speechless.

I’ve never heard the phrase “a tony part.” Is it usually used or taken in a derogatory manner?

Pelosi’s mistake doesn’t even to be in the same universe as the Choot-spa gaffe. She knew the word. It has become widespread enough in English for her not to know its origin. No big deal. A political gaffe is worst when it plays to preconceived notions of a politician. Bachmann’s only reinforced the preconceived notion that she wouldn’t know Choot-spa if it smacked right into her.

The sentence should read: Pelosi’s mistake doesn’t even seem to be in the same universe as the Choot-spa gaffe.

Of course it’s just as bad as Bachmann—how else can you draw a false equivalency to seem “objective?”

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Lainie Friedman says:

First of all, fakakta is spelled without any r’s, not how you spelled it. And Jon Stewart pronounced it correctly, not as you spelled it. Second, Nancy Pelosi was making a joke! How can you mention her with Michelle Bachmann. Nancy Pelosi clearly understands the meaning of fakakta, where Bachmann doesn’t know the word chutzpah from bupkes. Third, thank you for running the whole interview. It was very interesting and Stewart and Pelosi both came off very well. Lang leben zolt ir, Tablet. A groise dank!
Lainie Friedman

Paul Brandon says:

Actually, the conventional spelling is ‘toney’, from high toned.

And since Yiddish is transliterated, there is no correct spelling.

LazerBeam says:

Pelosi was being clever, i.e., in on the reference, not ignorant. Bachmann is ignorant, not clever.

Chootspa Stewart says:

Stewart was the one who said “fakakte”, not Pelosi, who was only trying to be funny.

The controversy here revolves around the coarse Yiddish word, which loosely translated into English is “beshat.” Never mind the inaccurate transliterations (with enough “New Yawka” misplaced “r’s” to remind me of old East Asian stereotypes) or its use as a mild obscenity in his “shpiel,” Stewart doesn’t even know enough Yiddish to use the word in a grammatically correct manner. It may be a “foreign” adjective when used in front of an English noun, but the phrase “it seems” requires the past participle “farkakt.”

Michelle Bachmann has the excuse of not being Jewish. If he mangles his attempt at injecting some “color” by using Yiddish, what is Jon Stewart’s?

Paul Brandon says:

And of course this is someone’s transcription of spoken words by Pelosi; any spelling is an approximation.

And, of course, the question is: which Yiddish?
Polish?
Russian?
German?
Hungarian?
Rumanian?
etcetcetc….

Tracey says:

I’m not even sure what you’re trying to criticize here: Jon Stewart’s pronunciation of verkakte (which sounded exactly the way I always hear it) or Nancy Pelosi’s comment that she thought verkakte was Italian (which sounded like a joke — you’re watching the Daily Show, surely you know what a joke is?).

Even if Pelosi was serious about thinking the word was Italian, this merely indicates that she heard it so much in her own household that she thought it was part of her own culture. Surely you can see the difference someone who knows a word too well and someone who doesn’t even know it well enough to pronounce it correctly?

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Jews and Italians May Basically Be the Same

… but Yiddish is still Yiddish, Rep. Pelosi!

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