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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.
"Wise, witty, and altogether wonderful....Mr. Wex has perfect pitch. He always finds the precise word, the most vivid metaphor, for his juicy Yiddishisms, and he enjoys teasing out complexities." (The New York Times)
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Michael on 06-19-06
Yiddish Self Defense Lesson
Having married into a Jewish family understanding a little Yiddish never hurt. It is a private language unto those who still want to keep the goyim on the outside of the circle. To get the full impact of Wex's book you must listen because it is about language. My wife's grandmother was a Russian Jew and for the first time I began to appreciate the historical and religous perspective of Yiddish and the world she left behind.
To keep it fresh Wex integrated all of this into everyday life. On the downside Wex has an annoying cadence in his reading and picks it up so fast as he continues that you can only comprehend a small piece of what he gives you. If you speak German (ich spreche ein bischen) or Polish or some eastern-European dialect, you will be able to follow. Warning to all goys...don't try Yiddish at home, leave it to the professionals.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Abigail on 08-30-07
Enjoyable, but for the narrator
I quite enjoyed this book. It was full of interesting facts and tidbits along with an interesting and witty take on Jewish culture. The narrator however, has a way of elongating the last sound of the last word in a statement, or emphasizes this sound in place of punctuation (such as commas). If you cannot ignore this inflection it may get on your nerves. It is not subtle. Even so, it did not bother me greatly and I found it a fun listen, perfect for daily commutes in the car (entertaining but wont make you late because you had to sit in the parking lot to hear what happens next).
6 of 6 people found this review helpful