Beyond the Book: Background information when reading The Debba

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The Debba

By Avner Mandelman

The Debba
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  • Paperback: Jul 2010,
    368 pages.

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Yiddish
Mandelman's novel is generously peppered with Yiddish words and phrases, complete with translations. There are other Yiddish words that require no translation having found their way into common English usage; words such as bagel, maven and klutz, have become so widespread that it would be difficult to spend a day without hearing, reading or uttering one of them. Others, such as schmooze, kvetch and shtick, while not as routinely used are nonetheless virtually irreplaceable in reference to the activities or things they describe.

Many people mistakenly believe Yiddish to be a kind of ethnic jargon. However, it is best described as a fusion language that shares a common ancestry with both German and English, in addition to several other Eastern European and Semitic languages (Semitic languages being a group of related languages spoken by people across much of the Middle East and North Africa, which include Hebrew and Arabic with about 5 million and 200 million ...

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