As the main spoken language of the Jews for more than a thousand years, Yiddish has had plenty to lament, plenty to conceal. Its phrases and expressions paint a comprehensive picture of the mind-set that enabled the Jews of Europe to survive persecution: they never stopped kvetching about God, gentiles, children, and everything else.
In Born to Kvetch, Michael Wex looks at the ingredients that went into this buffet of disenchantment and examines how they were mixed together to produce an almost limitless supply of striking idioms and withering curses. Born to Kvetch includes a wealth of material that's never appeared in English before.
This is no bobe mayse (cock-and-bull story) from a khokhem be-layle (idiot, literally a "sage at night" when no one's looking), but a serious yet fun and funny look at a language. From tukhes to goy, meshugener to kvetch, Yiddish words have permeated and transformed English as well. Through the fascinating history of this kvetch-full tongue, Michael Wex gives us a moving and inspiring portrait of a people, and a language, in exile.
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Novelist, lecturer, and translator Michael Wex is one of the leading lights in the revival of Yiddish, and author of the New York Times bestseller Born to Kvetch and its follow-up, Just Say Nu.From AudioFile:
Oy! Is this ever a treasure trove of Yiddish phrases, philosophy, and pronunciation, going far beyond the simple Yiddish words that have found their way into the American vernacular. Author Wex delivers chapter and verse in a sly, mocking yet wise, bold style, sure to amuse and educate even the Yiddish novice. Hear slang that snaps, crackles, and "schnapps" as Wex brings listeners the tangiest put-downs, curses, and terms of outrage in the language. A fascinating history of Jewish village life and modern mindset, customs, and mores, BORN TO KVETCH will leave you with a stitch in your kishkes and a "so nu?" on your lips. D.J.B. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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