I try not to look at the ads in the T, especially the ones over the tracks. If you look there too long, your animal brain starts to notice things moving down there and you become aware of a whole rodent jamboree. But that’s not my point, this is:
I saw it a few times before I realized what was weird to me. Not that there was major display advertising – about a savings account no less – using a Yiddish word, somehow that didn’t rate as odd.
But before I go any further, I don’t want to leave anybody behind, so I’ll remind everybody with a little help from wiktionary that “bupkus” (or bobkes or bupkis or באָבקעס) is a Yiddish word literally meaning “beans’ but used to mean something small or insignificant, not unlike “squat” or “diddly squat” with all the scatological connotation therein as it also has roots in a word for “goat droppings” which I’m sure you all know look like beans. (I won’t make *that* mistake a second time!) Now you know. Moving on.
It’s dangerous business to say that a word is spelled incorrectly when transliterated into the roman alphabet, but sign me up for saying that “bupkus” is just not right. I prefer “bupkis” but am not averse to “bobkes” either. A little searching and I think you’ll find those to be more common, and a little searching is all I would have expected from Capital One’s creative team.
But let’s dive a little deeper down this goathole. Is Capital One, a national if not global company acknowledging the entry of this Yiddish word into the English language or using it in a conscious targeting of some market that’s more likely to recognize the word and its meaning?
Heather Froehlich poses a similar question on the Examiner but seems unconcerned with the spelling.
If this is Capital One’s new advertisement campaign as it appears to be … this could be a new Yiddish word entering the collective lexicon, joining the ranks of “shlep”, “shtick” and “schmuck”.
Or, perhaps I am underestimating the non-Jewish population; this could be an already a widely-recognized word by the goyim.
I don’t know the answer, but I think I have a clue. Capital One’s website has bupkis for bupkus. I don’t see the word anywhere on it, even in the section about this savings account product, and come up empty with searches. So I infer that this campaign is localized. Bupkus for Boston but probably not for Boise, Battle Creek or Butte. I wonder where else this campaign has been deployed.
The question is still open whether Capital One is seeking specifically semitic savers or just urban hipsters who watched a lot of Seinfeld.