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August 02, 2012


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The word fesch has been used in southern German/Austrian dialects at least since the middle of the 19th century. It means "pretty," "stylish," and is, according to most sources, derived from the word "fashionable."

In The Blue Angel (1930), Dietrich sings a song that begins, "Ich bin die fesche Lola." And the word appears almost 90 years earlier in Nestroy's Einen Jux will er sich machen (the basis of Thornton Wilder's Matchmaker.

Not just that; they're all forms in which a [t] or [s] sound in the root has become a -sh sound when followed by a suffix like -ious, -ion or -ial. In each case the original -i- colonized the preceding consonant.

An analogous thing happens with the [z] that mutates to a zh-sound in in cazh, plezh, uzhe, etc. (Some careful Brits still pronounce these words like caz-ual, but for the rest of us are more cazhual.)

This seems to tickle people, cutting words off right at this particular mutation. I did a bit on it here.


Lane: Many thanks for the comment and the link to your post! I'd read it back in February but neglected to bookmark it.

I've updated my own post to include a link to yours.

I find that Cole Porter, in a song called "Hey, Good-lookin'", in a 1943 show called "Something for The Boys", wrote the lines

Give in and we'll begin cookin'
That delish
Little dish
Called love

I also notice that Hank Williams's well-known "Hey good-lookin', whatcha got cookin'" song seems to owe a lot to this one.

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