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This category contains all of the reviews of Michael Wex’s work

“Just Say Nu” Review in J

Did you come from one of those families where you walked off to kindergarten not knowing if you were speaking English or Yiddish? If the teacher held up a fork for identification, did you raise your hand and proudly — but wrongly — announce, “gupple”? How could gupple be wrong? It sounds just like “apple,” […]

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“Just Say Nu” New York Times Review

What’s Yiddish for double-dipping? With verve, élan and something only a non-Yiddish speaker would call chutzpah, Michael Wex returns to the linguistic mother lode that yielded “Born to Kvetch,” his brilliant cultural history of Yiddish. This time around, in “Just Say Nu,” he gets down to the everyday business of putting Yiddish to use. When […]

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“Born to Kvetch” New York Times Review

Most children watching “The Three Stooges” didn’t realize it, but an understanding of Yiddish was required to get a lot of the jokes. In one episode, when Larry hears that Moe is heading to a hockshop, he says, “While you’re there, hock me a tshaynik.” What must have sounded like pure nonsense to most viewers […]

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“Born to Kvetch” – Jbooks Review

It’s been called folksy and quaint. It’s been labeled a dialect and dismissed as “jargon.” Even its defenders tend to admit that it died 50 years ago. Yiddish, nebekh, has suffered so much defamation of character that it could probably win a libel suit. If Yiddish ever does sue, its first expert witness will be […]

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“Born to Kvetch” Washington Post Review

In Born to Kvetch Wex straddles both the high and low end of that spectrum in a work that manages to be simultaneously entertaining and erudite. Wex explains Yiddish culture by unraveling, in great detail, the words and phrases used by Yiddish speakers in the various areas of their lives. In doing so, he draws […]

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“Born to Kvetch” review in J Weekly

Let others be born to be wild, born to run or born under a bad sign. According to Michael Wex, Jews were Born to Kvetch. Wex’s tome is more than just the standard-issue listing of the 97 ways to say “idiot” in Yiddish. It’s a reverse-engineering of the spirit of Eastern European Judaism via the […]

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“Born to Kvetch” review in the Forward

If you asked me whether I enjoyed Michael Wex’s hilarious and learned book, Born To Kvetch, I would find myself in an impossible quandary. To admit the rare pleasure I derived from reading it would be to violate what Wex argues is the very essence of Yiddish sensibility: a stubborn, cynical and often maddening refusal […]

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