I purchased this volume with expectations which have, unfortunately, been only partially met. This is good basic etymology, and is a wonderful volume for those with either a newly found interest in word origins or little if any prior New York exposure.For these readers it will appear to be both eminently readable, and adequately informative. Unfortunately, a seventeen page introduction, with numerous literary references, is NOT accompanied by either a bibliography or footnotes. This is a serious omission. Several words/terms with what seemed to me to be questionable explanations of origin were encountered..nonetheless, overall this is an interesting, if not basic overview of New York linguistic mannerisms, which at least by this reader would be recommended to others.
As a displaced New Yorker, living in France for almost two decades, this book made me realize how much I have lost my linguistic roots. I remember drinking egg creams and playing boxball when I was a kid, and all those words that entered English from Yiddish - kvetch, dreck, and many others. This book is laid out like a dictionary, but the descriptions are often meatier than the usual slang dictionary. That makes it a dictionary you can really read, not just look words up in. While a lot could be said about the lack of linguistic rigor in this book - no specific etymological information, no references and notes - it is not meant to be a linguistic work. It is more a book for those curious about the New York dialect, or others, like me, who see it as a stroll down memory lane to the language they grew up with. I would say that there are lots of words that are not specifically New York words, especially those used by the mob. The author quotes far too many Prizzi novels. There are terms (such as punk rock) which certainly did not originate in New York, and are not specific to New York either. And, while the author lists a lot of specific New York food - mostly of Jewish origin, like matzohs, lox, halvah - there is a lot left out: where are knishes? Lots of expressions that are missing; a lot of attention is given to baseball words; but, in the end, this is not meant to be an exhaustive work. It did give me a lot of enjoyment, and can be very useful for those needing information on New York slang. But don't buy it if you are looking for a more general dictionary of slang; it is not complete enough.
If you are thinking of buying this book...fuhgeddaboutit! As a lifelong New Yorker I thought this would be an interesting read about the city I live in, and love so dearly. What a disappointment! I have several complaints:
1. It doesn't follow a true dictionary format with proper cross-referencing. Some entries simply direct you to look up a synonym without giving the definition. Then you have to keep jumping all over the book to find the definition of the first word you wanted. Why not define it at the first synonym that appears alphabetically and say "see also..." and list all the other words right there?
2. Some of the expressions are wrong such as "shoulder candy." The only version I've ever heard is "arm candy."
3. A lot of the expressions are ones I've heard elsewhere and are not truly unique to New York such as "bimbo" and "movies."
4. While there is a considerable Jewish population in New York, Yiddish is not a language specific to New York, yet this book is full of Yiddish words defined. Why not just buy a Yiddish dictionary?
5. It's also full of historical tidbits that are interesting, but are not actual words to be defined. It makes for choppy reading.
Do yourself a favor, save your scratch and come visit New York for the real deal instead.
all you have to do is go ta da copyright office and see that this book was actually copyrighted by Don Iarussi many years before. Iarussi put out his bookl himself under that label of nytex press. Amazon, you can look it up. the book here is a pathetic attempt by some pinhead elitist to have a clue . this book belongs with the coney island whitefish