the schmooze


*The Yiddish word for cloth/fabric is "shtof"

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

A recent study by Nicholas Palomares, Asst. Prof. of Communications at UC Davis, was titled, "Women Are Sort of More Tentative Than Men, Aren't They?"  The article appeared in the August 2009 issue of the journal "Communication Research" and was discussed at

According to Palomares, women hedge, issue disclaimers and ask questions, when they communicate, language features that can suggest uncertainty, lack of confidence ("tsutroy") and low status ("matsev").  Note:  The Yiddish has been added by the writer.

Students were given the name and gender of "di perzon" (the person) they were e-mailing.

Men were tentative when writing about make-up or other stereotypically feminine ("vayblekh") topics, especially when they thought they were writing to a woman. "Der moshl" (The example) given:  One man, believing he wa corresponding with a woman, wrote:  "...maybe girls prefer the quality of products at Sephora over other major department stores?  I don't know."

Women were tentative when writing about changing flat tires and other stereotypical "menlekh" (masculine) topics.  One woman, believing she was giving instructions to a man, wrote:  "I think they start out by raising the whole car, or maybe just the one tire with a tire jack?"

Perhaps she should have said, "First, park the car on level, firm ground, preferably with the punctured tire facing away from the road, and well clear of any traffic.  Set your emergency triangle about 100 ft. behind the car.  For a manual, put the parking break on.  If you've got an automatic, put it in 'park' and switch off the engine....AND THEN CRY!

"Di shprakh" (the language) was judged tentative if it included "hedges" like sort of, maybe ("efsher"), pretty much or kinda.

Other "disclaimers" include, I'm not sure, I may be wrong ("umgerekht"), don't trust me, or but you should double-check.

Interestingly, no gender difference in tentativeness was found when his subjects wrote e-mails about gender-neutral topics, such as recommending a good "restoran" (restaurant).  Sure, they probably quote Henry Waxman (from California's Thirtieth District),  who said about the 2nd Ave. Deli:  "If you want something interesting,  you could order this meal called Instant Heart Attack.  It's a sandwich consisting of two large potato pancakes and your choice of meat.  (He opted instead for a pastrami omelette without the french fries!)  Source:  The New Yorker, 8/31/2009.

Perhaps men and women should adhere to the advice given by John Wayne:  "Talk low, talk slow, and don't say too much."


Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe has a suggestion for a subsequent research project for Mr. Palomares:   Why is it that when a woman tells a doctor she's all tired out, he immediately looks at her tongue?

Polomares says"Men and women are from different blocks in the same neighborhood ("shkheyneshaft") and they tend to move often ("oft")."

The writer feels that "A halber entfer zogt oichet epes" (half an answer also says something).

Polomares asked nearly 300 UC Davis undergraduates--about half of them female and half male--to write e-mails, explaining how to change a flat tire ("reyf") or  buy make-up, among other gender-stereotyped and gender-neutral topics.

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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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