Meshuggenary: Celebrating the World of Yiddish

Meshuggenary: Celebrating the World of Yiddish

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by Payson R. Stevens, Sol Steinmetz, Sol Steinmetz, 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 impactSee more details below

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.

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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)

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