Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods by Michael Wex

December 2007

This is a fun and enlightening book about Yiddish, and specifically about the negativity inherent in much of the language. When I started the book, I thought it would just be a silly romp through the colorful Yiddish language. In fact, though it is tongue in cheek, it’s also much more serious and in-depth than I expected. It’s fascinating to find out the origins of many Yiddish words and turns of phrase that are familiar even to non-Yiddish speakers, and it’s wonderful to get an actual Yiddish speaker’s view of his own language. It’s also quite an eye-opener—who knew schmuck was really such a dirty word?

Further reading…