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Toddlers getting into trouble?
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Grant mentioned that the word comes from German, meaning to swat or hit.  When I grew up, my parents would often give me a little “potch” on the backside…less than a spanking but let me know I was being a bit naughty.  I also would use that word for a loving little butt-slap, like birthday spankings or what sports players do.  I’d only use this for a swat on the behind though, not anywhere else.  The word I grew up with for toddlers getting into a mess, especially if liquid is involved like splashing in water or slapping around one’s fingerpaints is “bonch”.  I’d be happily making a mess with the water in the sink and mom would tell me to stop “bonching” around.

I’ve discovered that my family (dad’s side I’m 3rd generation American, they came from what are now Bosnia and Czech Republic; mom’s side I think I’m 4th generation, and they were German) has a lot of Germanic words that I have heard almost NOBODY ever say.  My eyes almost fell out of my head when a friend talked about taking a “schluck” (rhymes with look) of water!  I thought only my family said that.

Does anyone else call the end slice of a loaf of bread the “schatzel”?

The one that really gets me is on New Year’s Day, we kids recite a poem, supposedly in German, that roughly translates to asking them to open their wallet and give you something.  It’s been screwed up through accents and kid mis-pronunciation for a couple of generations, and I’m dying to know the real words. The first line sounds like “weenchy weency vosnik vos”.  I’m pretty sure the second line is some form of “machen Tasche geöffnet und gib mir etwas” (make your pocket open and give me something).  So if anyone else knows this poem/saying and can help me with the real words, I’d love to hear about it!

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Welcome to the forum kelferg. I asked your question about the poem to a friend who is an expert German-English translator. Here’s what he said:

I could not find the answer you are looking for. “Sounds like” and “pretty sure the second line is some form of” is not sufficient information, given what he quotes I cannot find anywhere. Request verses and songs of children range across all the German-speaking regions as well as across Scandinavia. They are often said in their local dialect.

They are also customary at different festivals of the year according to the region. New Year is a common time for this form of request in Northern Germany, but the songs I found do not match any of the lines hinted at below. Children ask for food, not for money. Where I come from we asked for candy on St. Martin’s Day (links in German may require online translation) similar to Halloween ‘trick or treat’ customs in the United States. Here are more songs for St. Martin’s Day.

I did find a potential answer that fits the second line as a request for money. It is not a New Years song but comes from Kassel in Germany called for on Glowesabend. It is for December 6, Nicholas Eve. Indeed, a penny is asked for in the song, but in the custom food is mainly requested, just as elsewhere. Glowes is dialect for Klaus, i.e. Nicholas.

Here is the song:

Ich bin en kleiner Frosch,
gebt mä doch’n Grosch.
Gebt mä’n Stücke Speck,
dann hüpp ich widder weg.

I am a small frog,
So do give me a penny.*
Give me a piece of bacon,
Then I leap away again.

My poetic attempt would translate the appeal of the cute diminutive as:

I am a little fish,
Put money in my dish.
Put some fat in my pan
And then I am gone again.

So I guess that’s not much help, but maybe another forum member will be able to enlighten us on this.

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Jews from Northern Poland, White Russia and parts of western Russian pronounce “ts” as in pizza as “ch” as in cherry. Hence putz – meaning dick (vulgarism for penis) is pronounced putch. In our house growing up, a little boy’s penis was refereed to, in a somewhat loving manner, as a petchik – ik meaning little.

Putzing around meaning wasting time would be potching around.

It’s a possibility anyway as I have never heard anyone referred to as potch (putz yes) and for sure not to call a child super potch.

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I distinctly remember hearing “potch” as a word for the first time as a diminuation of “potchet” (rhyme with hatchet), as a reference to a pocket, particularly a pocket on the seat of the pants.

Also happens to be onomatopoetic, as the sound created by a light slap on the bottom of a very small child in plastic- or rubber-covered diapers…