Kvetching is to the Jewish soul what breathing is to the Jewish body. For Jews, kvetching is a way of understanding the world. It is rooted, like so much of Jewish culture, in the Bible where the Israelites grumble endlessly. They complain about their problems, and complain as much about the solutions. They kvetch in Egypt and they kvetch in the desert; no matter what God does, it's wrong. In Yiddish Jews found the perfect language for their complaints. In kvetching they made complaining into an art form.
Yiddish was the main spoken language for Jews for over a thousand years and its phrases, idioms and expressions paint a comprehensive picture of the psychology that helped the Jews of Europe to survive unrelenting persecution. In Born to Kvetch Michael Wex looks into the origins of this surplus of disenchantment, and examines how it helped to create the abundance of striking idioms and curses in Yiddish. Michael Wex takes a serious but funny look at the language that has shaped and was shaped by those who spoke it. Featuring chapters on the Yiddish relationship to food, nature, God, death and even sex, he allows his scholarship and wit to roam freely from Sholem Aleichem to Chaucer and Elvis Presley. A treasure trove of linguistics, sociology, history and folklore -- an inspiring portrait of a people, and a language, in exile.
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