Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Macmillan, Apr 1, 2007 - History - 320 pages
63 Reviews
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, idioms, and expressions paint a comprehensive picture of the mind-set that enabled the Jews of Europe to survive a millennium of unrelenting persecution: they never stopped kvetching---about God, gentiles, children, food, and everything (and anything) else. They even learned how to smile through their kvetching and express satisfaction in the form of complaint.
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 (which get a chapter all to themselves). Born to Kvetch includes a wealth of material that’s never appeared in English before. You’ll find information on the Yiddish relationship to food, nature, divinity, and humanity. There’s even a chapter about sex.
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 that both shaped and was shaped by those who spoke it. From tukhes to goy, meshugener to kvetch, Yiddish words have permeated and transformed English as well.
Through the idioms, phrases, metaphors, and 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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Highly entertaining as well as educational. - Goodreads
Good topic, good research, not for everyone. - Goodreads
But what makes this book for me Wex's writing. - Goodreads

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

User Review  - Mattie - Goodreads

Oy, did I love this book! Serious exploration of how Jewish culture, particularly Ashkenzic Jewish culture, is reflected in the Yiddish language. The scholarly stuff is good. But what makes this book ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

Highly entertaining as well as educational. Key phrases, etymology, situational use, personal stories, and humor throughout. Definite winner for anyone with an interest in Yiddish language or culture. Read full review

Contents

1 Kvetch Que CEst? THE ORIGINS OF YIDDISH
1
YIDDISH IN ACTION
29
YIDDISH DIALECTS
47
THE RELIGIOUS ROOTS OF YIDDISH
59
YIDDISH AND THE FORCES OF DARKNESS
91
THE YIDDISH CURSE
117
MAZL MISERY AND MONEY
141
YIDDISH AND NATURE
159
FOODKOSHER AND TREYF
175
YIDDISH LIFE FROM BIRTH TO BAR MITZVAH
197
COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
221
SEX IN YIDDISH
249
DEATH IN YIDDISH
265
Glossary
287
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Michael Wex is a novelist, university teacher, translator (including the only authorized Yiddish translation of The Threepenny Opera), and performer (of stand-up and one-person shows). He has been hailed as "a Yiddish national treasure" and is one of the leading lights in the current revival of Yiddish, lecturing widely on Yiddish and Jewish culture. He lives and kvetches in Toronto.

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