From Publishers Weekly
This is not your bubbe's—or Leo Rosten's—Yiddish. Translator, novelist and performer Wex follows his witty and erudite Born to Kvetch
with a colorful, uncensored guide to the idiomatic, use of Yiddish in such areas as madness, fury, and driving, mob Yiddish, insults and thirteen designations for the human rear (in declining order of politeness). Wex is knowledgeable about the biblical and Talmudic roots of some colloquial phrases; for example, he points out that tukhes
(ass as he translates it) may be derived from Tuhkhes, one of the places where the Israelites sojourned on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. While most of Wex's discussions of words and phrases are brief, he provides lengthier sections on five key, highly nuanced Yiddish words: nu
(already, right away), epes
(something, somewhat), takeh
(precisely) and nebakh
(alas). Wex's advice on the complex usage of these words can help even the greenest Yiddish speaker. The book could have given more attention to regional dialects and there are a few organizational quirks. Still, Wex offers both fun and instruction for the non-maven. (Oct.)
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“More than just a dictionary, Wex’s book waxes on the possible Biblical origins of certain phrases and offers useful phrases as well. Wex’s parents must be kvelling.” (New York Post)
“This treasure trove of linguistics, sociology, history and folklore offers a fascinating look at how, through the centuries, a unique and enduring language has reflected an equally unique and enduring culture.” (Publishers Weekly)
“All the wonderful elements of Yiddish language and culture are represented here. Highly recommended” (Library Journal)
“So you enjoyed Michael Wex’s Born to Kvetch, a North American introduction to Yiddish…? Even if you have no social connection with the haredi Ashkenazic community, you will probably also enjoy Just Say Nu - Yiddish for Every Occasion…. [I]t’s a delight.” (Jerusalem Post)