Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods

Paperback | August 15, 2006

byMichael Wex

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A delightful excursion through the Yiddish language, the culture it defines and serves, and the fine art of complaint

Throughout history, Jews around the world have had plenty of reasons to lament. And for a thousand years, they've had the perfect language for it. Rich in color, expressiveness, and complexity, Yiddish has proven incredibly useful and durable. Its wonderful phrases and idioms impeccably reflect the mind-set that has enabled the Jews of Europe to survive a millennium of unrelenting persecution . . . and enables them to kvetch about it!

Michael Wex&#8212professor, scholar, translator, novelist, and performer&#8212takes a serious yet unceasingly fun and funny look at this remarkable kvetch-full tongue that has both shaped and has been shaped by those who speak it. Featuring chapters on curse words, food, sex, and even death, he allows his lively wit and scholarship to roam freely from Sholem Aleichem to Chaucer to Elvis.

Perhaps only a khokhem be-layle (a fool, literally a "sage at night," when there's no one around to see) would care to pass up this endearing and enriching treasure trove of linguistics, sociology, history, and folklore&#8212an intriguing appreciation of a unique and enduring language and an equally fascinating culture.

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From the Publisher

A delightful excursion through the Yiddish language, the culture it defines and serves, and the fine art of complaintThroughout history, Jews around the world have had plenty of reasons to lament. And for a thousand years, they've had the perfect language for it. Rich in color, expressiveness, and complexity, Yiddish has proven incredi...

From the Jacket

The entry for "kvetchn (the verbal form) in Uriel Weinreich's "Modern English-Yiddish Yiddish-English Dictionary reads simply: "press, squeeze, pinch; strain." There is no mention of grumbling or complaint. You can "kvetch an orange to get juice, "kvetch a buzzer for service, or "kvetch mit di pleytses, shrug your shoulders, when no on...

Novelist, lecturer, and translator Michael Wex is one of the leading lights in the revival of Yiddish, and author of theNew York TimesbestsellerBorn to Kvetchand its follow-up,Just Say Nu.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.76 inPublished:August 15, 2006Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061132179

ISBN - 13:9780061132179

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Customer Reviews of Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All of Its Moods

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Oy This book is hilarious and informative. It really gets down to the mentality behind the Yiddish language and the reasons for it. Very easy to read and enjoyable and full of amusing Yiddish axioms.
Date published: 2008-06-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Decent Book This book is entertaining as it sweeps you into the lexicon of the Yiddish language. It really gets interesting in the last couple of chapters. The book despite its alluring cover is not for a general audience but for those exposed to Yiddish at some point in their lives. Not bad.
Date published: 2007-04-30

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Editorial Reviews

“Required reading.”