We know of no book like this. The Joys of Yiddish is a most original adventure into English. It explores the surprising ways in which English has been enriched and enlivened by that Robin Hood of Ilanguages, Yiddish. Leo Rosten has wedded scholarship to humor and gives the reader an enchant-ing, entirely new kind of dictionary. It ranges across the whole bright realm of Jewish culture, thought, history, religion,customs. wit. It translates the astonishing vocabulary of insight of a language that is older than English, and illuminates those insights with hundreds of marvel-ous stories and epigrams from folklore and the Talmud, from the days of the Bible to those of the beatnik. It brings alive a delicious gallery of human types:the kibitzer, nebech, shleiniel, shlimazl, shiep, shrno, shnook, yenta, momzer,plosher, doppess, shmendrick, gonif, f on-fer, fifer, knocker, kvetch, paskudn yak,troinbenik. Each entry is defined, itsetymology (often striking) traced, its pronunciation made easy, its nuances cap-tured with exuberant precision.Do you know the origin of chutzpa,mish-mosh, fin, bubeleh, megillah, sham-mes, cockamamy, kineahora? Do you know when to cry Mazel tov and when to avoid it like the plague? Or A ha!,Feh!, Ai-ai-ai!?Did you know that Oy! is not a word, but a vocabulary with 29 distinct variations? Do you know where Yiddish began and how it grew? Have you ever entered the remarkable world of the shtetl? Did you know that Jehovah is a mistranslation of a Hebrew word no one knows how to pronounce?Here is a book to be read and laughed over, no less than consulted a contribution to linguistics, a must for lovers of English, a treasury of delights for anyone intrigued by the sparkling interplay of language and life.The Joys of Yiddish is a joy of a book.
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