Joys of Yiddish

ISBN 10: 067172813X / ISBN 13: 9780671728137
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Do you know when to cry Mazel tov -- and when to avoid it like the plague? Did you know that Oy! is not a word, but a vocabulary with 29 distinct variations, sighed, cried, howled, or moaned, employed to express anything from ecstasy to horror? Here are words heard 'round the English-speaking world: chutzpa, or gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, "...that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and his father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan." Then there's mish-mosh, or mess, hodgepodge, total confusion...and shamus, or private eye.

They're all here and more, in Leo Rosten's glorious classic The Joys of Yiddish, which weds scholarship to humor and redefines dictionary to reflect the heart and soul of a people through their language, illuminating each entry with marvelous stories and epigrams from folklore and the Talmud, from Bible to borscht belt and beyond. With Rosten's help, anyone can pronounce and master the nuances of words that convey everything from compassion to skepticism. Savor the irresistible pleasure of Yiddish in this banquet of a book!

Review: Leo Rosten left a great legacy of Jewish culture with his classic informal lexicon of Yiddish. Rosten defines (by synonym, anecdote, and joke) the words that have made it into common parlance (like chutzpah, schlep, and schmooze) as well as a choice collection of less integrated but equally rich vocabulary such as schmatte (a rag, i.e. what a schmatte you're wearing), chozzerai (literally "pig food," now denoting crap or junk food), and hundreds more. First published in 1968, Rosten's aptly named compendium still sings with humorous erudition.

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Title: Joys of Yiddish
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