Thursday, 26 November 2009
Nik the nixer

It's amazing what those nudniks can do with a suffix. From Online Etymology:


"artificial satellite," 1957 (launched Oct. 4, 1957), from Rus. sputnik "satellite," lit. "traveling companion," from O.C.S. supotiniku, from su- "with, together" + poti "way, journey" (from PIE base *pent- "to go, pass") + agent suffix -nik. The electrifying impact of the launch on the West can be gauged by the number of new formations in -nik around this time (the suffix had been present in a Yiddish context for at least a decade before); e.g. the dog launched aboard Sputnik 2 (Nov. 2, 1957), which was dubbed muttnik by the "Detroit Free Press," etc., and the U.S. satellite which failed to reach orbit in 1957 (because the Vanguard rocket blew up on the launch pad) derided as a kaputnik (in the "Daily Express"), a flopnik ("Daily Herald"), a puffnik ("Daily Mail"), and a stayputnik ("News Chronicle").

Posted on 11/26/2009 5:02 PM by Mary Jackson
27 Nov 2009
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Or: Smarter Than The Average Beria
Or: Nicholsonik?
Or: Nik At Night
And of course, Kruschev, after getting rid of Beria in the nik of time, made his famous "secret speech" in which he denounced Stalin as a nogoodnik.  The "Nik, nik, nik....Swamp!" (heard around 1:39 of the second link below) uttered by Jack Nicholson at night near a campfire in Easy Rider likely has nothing to do with with the Pripet Marshes, which possibly made up, if memory serves ( I suspect that the char threw out my tattered copy of The Europeans by Geipel) the linguistic heartland of Russia.
Also see:

27 Nov 2009
Hugh Fitzgerald

No "nudnik"?

No "nogoodnik"?

27 Nov 2009
Paul Blaskowicz

PHudnik = highly educated nudnik.  Interesting article.

27 Nov 2009
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"Saint" Elmo's Pale Fire
Or: Did Hugh Know From Nogoodnik? Did You? The Jew Knew. Who Knew?
Or: Case But No Ukase?
Hugh, you look a little pale, nu?
- Elmo Tanner
I wonder what Hugh's mother would think of the adventures in "Easy Rider" and the lame attempt to wring humour out of "Swamp" and "marshes."
- Augie Marsh [sic]
Thanks Paul, for the very interesting article.  It's a tad over me 'ead, but Mr. Casselman seems to have made a compelling, though not conclusive, case to the OED's apparatchiks that "nogoodnik" is derived from "???????? (nye-GOD-nik)" and is therefore of purely Russian, not Yiddish-German-English, origin. That is to say, (I think) there is nothing "good" about "nogoodnik"; not quite a calque, (a word unfamiliar to me until seeing it in
assuming one cannot reduce godnay/suitable to "good" ala some Indo-European root grunt.
Again, thanks Paul; you look a little beyond the pale of settlement, nu? -As does Casselman.