×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Meshuggenary: Celebrating the World of Yiddish
     

Meshuggenary: Celebrating the World of Yiddish

4.6 3
by Payson R. Stevens, Sol Steinmetz, Sol Steinmetz, Charles M. Levine, Charles M. Levine
 

Rumors that Yiddish is a dead language are greatly exaggerated. In fact, both the Yiddish language and culture are alive and well in America and elsewhere. English speakers take note: The Random House Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary both contain almost 100 Yiddish words that are now considered part of the English language. The impact

Overview


Rumors that Yiddish is a dead language are greatly exaggerated. In fact, both the Yiddish language and culture are alive and well in America and elsewhere. English speakers take note: The Random House Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary both contain almost 100 Yiddish words that are now considered part of the English language. The impact of Yiddish culture is strongly felt in the films of Woody Allen, in Broadway shows like The Producers, and in television sitcoms such as The Nanny and Seinfeld in the tradition of the comic headliners of the Catskills. The world of Yiddish reaches out and embraces us in the literature of Isaac Bashevis Singer and Art Spiegelman, the culinary offerings of innumerable delicatessens, and the renewed popularity of klezmer music.

Yiddish is rich and soulful, thick with pathos, full of humor and self-deprecating wit and sarcasm -- as a language it uniquely captures the essence of what, or who, it describes. If you've ever noshed on a bagel, or yelled at the schmuck who had the chutzpah to cut you off at the traffic light, you've been enriched and empowered by Yiddish.

Beautifully designed and illustrated, Meshuggenary is a deeply researched and eclectic introduction to Yiddish language, culture, and history. It explores the basics of Yiddish vocabulary and grammar; proverbs, expressions, blessings, curses, and insults; and even the difference between Yiddish, Yinglish (Yiddish-origin words now part of English), and Yiddlish (words that sound Yiddish but aren't). There are chapters on Yiddish humor, literature, theater, and music; a who's who of Yiddishluminaries; and a captivating glimpse of the contributions of women to its literature and culture. So you shouldn't go hungry, there's a chapter on food with a tempting selection of family recipes. And if this little taste isn't enough to satisfy you, there's information on a host of books and Yiddish Web sites and Internet links.

Erudite, accessible, highly informative, and enormously entertaining, Meshuggenary is an irresistible pleasure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Maven, schmooze, schlock, kvetch, nosh: they're just a few of the Yiddish-origin words that have made their way into American dictionaries. Tracing the history of the Jewish lingua franca not only from a linguistic perspective, but from a cultural, religious and societal viewpoint as well, this spirited and informative reference offers readers a foundation for understanding the myriad facets of Yiddish culture. (The title, the authors say, means a "crazy-quilt guide to Yiddish," not to mention a Yiddish bestiary.) There are entries on shtetl life, Yiddish proverbs and blessings, klezmer and Yiddlish (words that sound Yiddish but aren't), as well as traditional Yiddish recipes and a slew of Yiddish jokes interspersed throughout the more factual segments describing Yiddish theater, literature and music. The authors, who "love this strangely beautiful language full of humor and pathos," are enthusiastic guides, and this motley exposition is a fun and entertaining crash course in everything it means to be Yiddish. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780743227421
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
09/01/2002
Edition description:
Bilingual
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.78(w) x 8.66(h) x 0.89(d)

Meet the Author


Payson R. Stevens has worked as an artist, designer, and writer for thirty years. He and his wife live in Del Mar, California.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Meshuggenary 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nearly everybody in the business world uses Yiddish. This is because in the past most businessman were Jewish themselves or worked with Jewish people. Learn what terms businessman use so you don't look like a schmuk!!! Also learn about Jewish History and Yiddish History. They are not the same! This book is written by a real Mensch!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The authors have produced an informative and very lively academic book (which may be an oxymoron expression). Early Yiddishists would marvel if they could now see what impact Yiddish (and Yinglish, etc.) have had and continue to have on America and American culture. Only in America could a language developed over a thousand years abroad and left for dead (until relatively recent times) be adopted and adapted to fit the American psyche and temper. Meshuggenary is a landmark success. In the years to come its depth, insight and completeness will not be easily challenged.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm from India and I love this book because I love words. The Yiddish language with its potent and expressive words adds greatly to our human vocabulary and supplies those words that uniquely describe aspects of the human condition. MESHUGGENARY provides a marvelous and necessary ingredient to the masala of human expression. The book is rich in humor and offers a great introduction to Yiddish culture. As an English teacher from another country, I marvel at how language continually expands by incorporating words and expressions from other cultures. This is just what we need to create global village communication.