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 and expressions paint a comprehensive picture of the mind-set that enabled the Jews of Europe to survive persecution: they never stopped kvetching about God, gentiles, children, and everything else.
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. Born to Kvetch includes a wealth of material that's never appeared in English before.
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.
Compelling, but not sure it's worth the gelt.
I listened only to the intro, and found the narration to be in the style "Rabbi-meets-Forrest-Gump." So, while I am not sure I could stand 10 hours of narration, I think it is probably a book I would at least check out of the local library.
Interesting, but needs a professional reader
The author has produced an interesting book, but his speaking style is so distracting that I gave up about 45 minutes in. Try a sample before you buy. Or just read the old-fashioned way.
An exploration of traditional Jewish culture and worldview through the prusm of language and idiom. As a non Jew I found it a revelation, amazing and amusing. I really enjoy Wex's humor and erudition. And his voice and delivery are a treat. This is one where the audiobook is better than the book.