Born to Kvetch and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Born to Kvetch on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods [Hardcover]

Michael Wex
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Available from these sellers.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £9.52  
Hardcover £17.23  
Hardcover, 25 Aug 2005 --  
Paperback £10.02  

Book Description

25 Aug 2005
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 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.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 303 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (25 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312307411
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312307417
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 16 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,081,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description


Renders him heir to Lenny Bruce, Leo Rosten and your favourite Yiddish teacher, all rolled into one... It is the embedding of thousands of years of Jewish lore in everyday situations that are inherently timeless... Besides, being a pleasure for anyone, every Yiddish student should really mamesh have to read it. --Jewish Chronicle

Wex… happens to be one of the finest living translators of Yiddish literature… He synthesises all his skills as a linguist, cultural historian and humorist in investigating the origins, uses and idiosyncrasies of modern Yiddish… A rich book from which one derives much pleasure and more than a little knowledge. --Jewish Renaissance --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Michael Wex is a novelist, translator (he has translated the only authorised Yiddish translation of The Threepenny Opera) and stand-up comedian. He was instrumental in the revival of Yiddish, and lectures widely on Yiddish and Jewish culture. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3 star
2 star
1 star
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don't have to be Jewish to kvetch 12 May 2009
I fell in love with this book from the first to the last page. The use of Jewish humour is subtle and plays on words. This book by Michael Wex gives insight into Yiddish in all its moods. Yiddish began to develop as the Jews moved across europe and this book give the meanings of expressions, used in all walks of life. Religion, Curses, Misery,and money , Courtship and Marriage, The whole gambit ot life and even death. In this book there is humour even in the end of life.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great wisdom 13 Feb 2011
If you ever wanted to spell a shrug and make it last a hundred pages or more, this is the book for you. Outsiders say we complain and moan. We don't and this book explains it all, slowly and clearly. Buy it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kvetch this b& Kvetch that..... 13 April 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a great gift book and a great book to lewrn form yourself too, i loved it and keep i on the dining table now, its brought so many smiles and we all have learned form it too.... its a great discussion topic too.... delving into our own delths and seeing what lies Do get it.... then you can thank me..... ;-)
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'German for blasphemers' 18 Mar 2013
This is an education. Unlike Leo Rosten's classic Joys of Yiddish or Maurice Samuel's altogether more austere little tome In Praise of Yiddish, here we get to see the mame-loshn's subversive side. It's not comprehensive - you won't find kochleffl, for instance - but the very first word we meet is aftselachis (out of spite), not one deployed by the jovial Rosten. He was all about Yiddish-in-English; Wex is firmly in the old country. Yiddish, he cheekily suggests, was the original jive [talk]; more chillingly, he invites us to see it as Hebrew, 'the linguistic equivalent of the Undead', taking over German's living body. '[T]hen came the Drang nach Osten'!! This is as linguistically satisfying as it is funny.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4.0 out of 5 stars Oy was I thirsty! 31 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Following a trip to Israel I wanted to learn more and this is a fantastic introduction to Yiddish culture. Worth a read.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category