Fred A Levy Haskell (fredcritter) wrote,
Fred A Levy Haskell

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Yiddish: A Nation of Words, by Miriam Weinstein

While wandering through Barnes & Noble in my usual semi-dazed bookstore-perusing state a while ago, I saw this book. While I've seen similar-looking books that were merely schlok thrown together for a quick buck, I figured I'd take a chance on this one.

I lucked out! It's amazingly interesting. Further, like many of the books I'm apparently lucky enough to discover lately, much of it has application and gives perspective beyond the confines of its immediate topic.

Of course, as a 52-year-old America Jew trying to make sense of himself and attempting to escape or perhaps transcend the casual assimilation he was raised with, this book turned out to have special meaning for me. As I might have realized had I thought more about the title, it's not simply the story of a language, it's an insight into the social context which gave rise to the language and the people who spoke it. (It did, however, make me sad that not only do I not speak Yiddish, I'm having an awful time trying to learn Hebrew.)

I think this is a book that would be enjoyed by almost anybody who considers themselves literate. It gave me a number of interesting insights into languages, how they tend to develop, and how they reflect and determine worldview -- just for starters....

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