A cross between Henry Beard's Latin for All Occasions and Ben Schott's Schott's Original Miscellany, JUST SAY NU is a practical guide to using Yiddish words and expressions in day-to-day situations. Along with enough grammar to enable readers to put together a comprehensible sentence and avoid embarrassing mistakes, Wex also explains the five most useful Yiddish words–shoyn, nu, epes, takeh,and nebakh–what they mean, how and when to use them, and how they can be used to conduct an entire conversation without anybody ever suspecting that the reader doesn't have the vaguest idea of what anyone is actually saying. Readers will learn how to shmooze their way through such activities as meeting and greeting; eating and drinking; praising and finding fault; maintaining personal hygiene; going to the doctor; driving; parenting; getting horoscopes; committing crimes; going to singles bars; having sex; talking politics and talking trash.
Now that Stephen Colbert, a Catholic from South Carolina and host of the "Colbert Report," is using Yiddish to wish viewers a bright and happy Chanukah, people have finally started to realize that there's nothing in the world that can't be improved by translating it into Yiddish. Wex's JUST SAY NU is the book that's going to show them how.
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 ("Well?"), shoyn ("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.