Born to Kvetch

So what’s not to love about this book? Just don’t expect Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish, which is a much lighter and less consequential work. Michael Wex’s Born to Kvetch is a serious, in-depth, expert analysis of conversational Yiddish and the culture that surrounds it. Despite the title, it’s not all about kvetching, though kvetching does play a starring role. So of course I do have one kvetch about this otherwise excellent book: I listened to a quarter of the audiobook version before turning in desperation to the much more satisfactory print version, since Wex’s own narration is intolerable. He reads with a sing-song intonation in which every declarative sentence sounds like a question — or, I should say, it sounds like a question? Of course the one advantage of the audiobook is that you know that the pronunciations of Yiddish are accurate, but it’s not worth it: the English is un-listenable-to, however you would say that in Yiddish.

Categories: Books, Linguistics