Born To Kvetch

Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods by Michael Wex

  • Published: Sep 18, 2020

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... read more

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Details of Born To Kvetch

Exact title of the book
Born To Kvetch
Book author
Michael Wex
ISBN
9781429909907
Publisher
St. Martin's Publishing Group
Published
Apr 01, 2007
Language
English
Format
PDF, FB2, EPUB, MOBI
Pages
320
File size (in PDF)
2880 kB

Some brief overview of book

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.

About author

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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