Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Yiddish guide to ‘Jewtopia’

A new book has arrived just in time to supplement the comedy in Jewtopia, now playing in TBPAC’s Jaeb Theater through Nov. 11.

Billed as a goy meets girl love story, Jewtopia traces the misadventures of two guys looking for love in all the wrong places.

The Tribune’s review today says you’ll laugh in spite of yourself (and it’s OK).

The book is “Just Say Nu,” by Michael Wex. The subtitle is “Yiddish for Every Occasion (When English Just Won’t Do).”

The New York Times review says “The book is packaged as a primer, with a mild pretense of being an instruction manual. … Most readers will skip over the grammar and syntax and head right to Mr. Wex’s comic explanation of Yiddish phrases, and how to get maximum impact out of a language strong on aggression, contempt and abuse.”

That much I could gather from the Jewtopia script, which offers sort of a Yiddish 101 for those not of the Tribe.

Plus, the helpful Jaeb folks put together a helpful vocabulary sheet passed out with the program.

Of course, you can get your M.A. in Yiddish with Wex’s book.

For example, when you hear someone spouting nonsense, like, say that there’s nothing to do downtown, you could say “Vays ikh voos,” which apparently means “I know what” in a literal translation, but so much more with the proper intonation.

The Times’ critic says, delivered properly, that it’s “not so much spoken as spat, or sneezed out. … It consists of equal parts disbelief, contempt and impatience – practically a Yiddish trifecta.”

– MichaelK

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't care what the review says. Most of us with any sort of sensitivity do not use the word "goy," even as a joke. It's intent is mean and offensive. It really shouldn't be on your website, any more than you would use a pejorative about Blacks, Jews, or Muslims. People who don't know Yiddish should not presume to use it, impolitely.