Bite-Sized Bits of Jewish Culture

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Family | Mishpocha

Oy. Talk about "occasional."  In case anyone is still there:

Leo Rosten says that the Yiddish word "משפּחה" is correctly pronounced "mish-paw-k-heh," and rhymes with “fish locheh” (what the hell is "locheh?"), but I've heard other pronunciations. It gets transliterated into English as:

  • mishpucha
  • mishpocha
  • mishpocha
  • mishpocheh
  • ...or a handful of other variations. Since Yiddish is written in Hebrew characters, any writing of Yiddish words with a Latin alphabet are transliterations.


The Yiddish word is from Hebrew, literally meaning "family," and it can be used that way- but it can also mean more. It can mean extended family, clan, or lineage.

It seems that in the 1960s, Chase Manhattan bank had a well-known advertising slogan, "You have a friend at Chase Manhattan."  Rosten claims that at a bank next to a Chase Manhattan branch, a sign appeared:

"— but here you have mishpokhe!"

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