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Hakn a tshaynik

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Hakn a tshaynik (literally "to knock a teakettle"), meaning to rattle on loudly and insistently, but without any meaning, is one of the most widely used Yiddish idiomatic phrases.[1] It is most often used in the negative imperative sense: Hak mir nisht ken tshaynik! (literally "Don't knock (me) a teakettle!"), in the sense of "Stop bothering me!".[1]

Aside from the metaphor of the subject of the epithet making meaningless noise as if he/she were banging on a teakettle, the phrase gains from the imagery of the lid of a teakettle full of boiling water "moving up and down, banging against the kettle like a jaw in full flap, clanging and banging and signifying nothing"; ironically, the less the contents, the louder and more annoying the noise.[1]

The phrase became familiar to many Americans without contact with Yiddish speakers by appearing in two popular Three Stooges short films. In one, Moe announces he is going to the hockshop, and Larry replies "While you're there, hock me a tshaynik"; in the other, Larry, disguised as a Chinese laundryman, pretending to speak Chinese, utters a stream of Yiddish doubletalk, ending with "Hak mir nisht ken tshaynik, and I don't mean efsher (maybe)!"[1] The phrase has become relatively common in English in half-translated forms such as "Don’t hock my chainik", to the point where shortened versions of the phrase, such as "You don't have to hock me about it!" proliferate on television and the movies, particularly where the speaker is intended to represent a resident of New York City, even if not Jewish.[1]

Modern Hebrew also contains an idiomatic expression of precisely identical meaning.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Born to Kvetch, Michael Wex, St. Martin's Press, New York, 2005, ISBN 0-312-30741-1
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This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Hakn a tshaynik. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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