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The New Joys of Yiddish: Completely Updated

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Enjoy the most comprehensive and hilariously entertaining lexicon of the colorful and deeply expressive language of Yiddish. With the recent renaissance of interest in Yiddish, and in keeping with a language that embodies the variety and vibrancy of life itself, The New Joys of Yiddish brings Leo Rosten’s masterful work up to date. Revised for the first time by Lawrence Bu ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 26th 2003 by Harmony (first published 1968)
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Maggie Anton
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: funny, humor, jewish, judaism
I never read the original cover to cover, just looked up words I was interested in. I'm glad I took the time to read all of this version. I both enjoyed and learned from this book. While I am familiar with most of the words here, many I needed reminding of their meaning again. I definitely like this new version better than the 1968 original. I hadn't realized how sexist [perhaps even misogynist] the old one was, but thankfully the editor calls out Rosten on this, as well as Rosten's tendency to ...more
Simcha Wood
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish is a brilliant blend of lexicography, history, humor, and cultural observation. This is not a book intended for the language scholar (though even those with a professional or academic interest in language should find a veritable feast here) but for anyone with an interest in the richness and variety of human expression.

Despite it’s title, this is a book that in many ways is more about Yinglish than Yiddish, being a celebration of the happy marriage between Englis
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started this one just after last HHD season, and wanted to finish it before a year had lapsed. This book is both dated and updated (thanks to Leo Rosten for the original and Lawrence Bush for the updates, mostly in the version of extensive footnotes), and is a linguistic encyclopedia, in spite of its pop title. Want to know the history-culture-common useage-stories behind common and not-so-common Yiddish words and phrases? This is the place to start. So many footnotes and references to other rel ...more
Oct 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Actually, I twice read the earlier, unrevised version, but Goodreads' searcher didn't find that one. Anyway, it's a fun read and I learned a bunch of words I will probably never have occasion to use.
this is a reference/dictionary of yiddish sayings, etc. and is a fun factual book for looking up things that you hear and may or may not have know the root of. i would say fun for both jewish and non jewish alike.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just a superb compilation of the Yiddish words you want to know, illustrated with a great deal of Yiddish humor.
Lilly | mothcub
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is v. fun and has cute little stories and jokes (and some illustrations) alongside each word. It had a whole bunch of interesting info about Jewish history and Judaism to give more grounding in some words and their concepts, much more info than I expected on that front, so that was pretty cool. I also really liked that this revised edition added so many footnotes to add to and correct/update some of Rosten's info (although since this version was published in 2001 it's still a bit outda ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had a copy of this book years ago in a small mass-market paperback size. The new edition is revised and updated and comes in a nice large trade paper edition. Although I don't buy as many reference books as I used to, given the speed of looking things up on the Internet, this is a book that's just plain fun to read as well as educational. Highly recommended.
Melvin Marsh, M.S.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism
For every Jewish word, you get a definition and often a story to go along with illustrating the point and definition.
Evanston Public  Library
This year's winning word at the Scripps National Spelling Bee was "knaidel" (a delicious creation, also known as a matzo ball or dumpling, usually served in an equally delicious bowl of chicken soup). This spelling was disputed by a few Yiddish language authorities, and given Rosten's listing of two variant spellings--"knaydl" or "kneydl,"--you can see how tricky it is to spell a word in a language that does not use the same alphabet as English. As many a Yiddish speaker might exclaim, "Oy, [or, ...more
Koen Crolla
Mar 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: language
Rosten is, at this point, an uncomfortable anachronism both religiously (e.g. in his hostility to Reform Judaism) and politically (casual misogyny being his most obvious and frequently indulged vice, though belligerent parochiality is another), but Bush corrects most of his flaws in notes if not in the actual text—including, usually, Rosten's sometimes truly bizarre choices in orthography.
I don't speak a lot of Yiddish myself—I know one song, and that's about it (my German is passable, though)—a
Jay Ginsburg
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This isn't a book you 'finish.' When a question comes up, you pull out the book, try to find the word you heard, and then you keep on in Rosten's world of insight, stories, etc. I probably prefer his original, but I look at all 3 of the books we have.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Great book for increasing your knowledge of Yiddishkeit.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: languages, nonfiction
This is the one I own, although I actually prefer the un-updated version as this one is rather less funny and more serious than the original.
Jessy Robinson
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been very edifying for me!
Apr 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, history, languages
Ever wondered about the meaning of words like mensch, oy, bagel, and farklempt? Here's a hilarious dictionary of Yiddish, with definitions, humor, stories, and cultural commentary.
Tal S
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
part dictionary, part anecdotes, this book reads like a leisurely after-dinner conversation :)
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Leo Calvin Rosten was born in Lodz, Russian Empire (now Poland) and died in New York City. He was a teacher and academic, but is best known as a humorist in the fields of scriptwriting, storywriting, journalism and Yiddish lexicography.

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