Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 430s

431: Elements of German by Elmer Antonsen


431: Antonsen, Elmer H. Elements of German: Phonology and Morphology. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 2007. 136 pp. ISBN 978-0-8173-1583-2.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 430: German and related languages
  • 431: Writing systems, phonology, and phonetics of standard German

Elmer Antonsen’s Elements of German is a crash course on the phonology of spoken German. Phonology consists of breaking down a language into tiny sounds and categorizing each type of pronunciation. Each different way a “g” can be vocalized has a separate symbolic representation. Each different “n” has another set and so on. Antonsen’s categorization (and attempted standardization) of spoken German will make you very aware of how your mouth and your tongue is positioned. There are bilabial fricatives (to make the “Pf” sound), voiceless alveolar affricates (the “ts” in tsetse), palatal nasal sounds (the second “n” in niño), as well as numerous other types of vocalizations (don’t worry, he lists them all).

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439: Born to Kvetch by Michael Wex

439.109: Wex, Michael. Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. 285 pp. ISBN 0-312-30741-1.

Dewey Construction:

  • 400: Language
  • 430: Germanic languages
  • 439: Other Germanic languages
  • 439.1: Yiddish
  • +09: Historical treatment

In Aaron Lansky’s Outwitting History, we saw how a small team of dedicated people are helping save Yiddish literature. Thousand of aging Jewish folks were lamenting the loss of their books and happy to give them a new home (but not without inviting Lansky and his crew in for a five-course snack). But where do these feelings of woe come from? Michael Wex, in his Born To Kvetch, gets to root of the issue, arguing that because the Jewish culture exists in a permanent state of exile, the moments of joy are fleeting and all that is left is to kvetch.

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