Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just Say Nu by Michael Wex

Simply, Michael Wex rocks. I gushed over Born to Kvetch (which was actually the first booked I blogged about when I started this mess in August of 2006) and I'll gush over this one. Now you'll say to yourself, "Reed Next? Doesn't sound Jewish." Well, it was Nechtbergowitz when we lived in Old Neighborhood but became Next when we moved the suburbs. I digress. Just Say Nu is a wonderful examination of a very rich language and not in a textbook kind of way but, in this case, a practical way. Wex is teaching you phrases that can be of use like small talk, words and terms for greetings, family, food and drink and the like even if you don't plan on speaking Yiddish. He also highlights 5 words that'll get you through any Yiddish conversation and shows the amazing range and versatility of words like "Nu".

But like the kid who starts looking up terms for sex in the dictionary and encyclopedia at that certain age (c,mon, you did it, too), Wex shares this information, as well. Nu? Need to know eleven Yiddish words for 'breasts'? See chapter 8. A variety of ways to tell people to shut up? Chapter 4 is loaded. How about a Yiddish version of "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer? See page 61 and get ready to sing along.

Even if you speak NO Yiddish, I'm going to bet you can figure this one out:

Haysn hays ikh Maurice, nor rifn rift men mikh "the space cowboy".

Useful, funny, sweet, and informative beyond expectation, this book is an absolute mekheiyeh. You should enjoy.

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