Mother Tongue One Never Forgets

Jan 7, 2016 by

[Many thanks to Leni Silberman for drawing my attention to the ScienceAlert article that describes the study discussed below!]   A growing body of linguistic literature, to which I have made a modest contribution (cf....

read more

Why Did Yiddish Survive in Eastern Europe (for as Long as It Did)?

Nov 23, 2015 by

[Thanks to Martin Lewis, Michael Nosonovsky, Katya Shilova, and Elena Zusmanovich for insightful conversations that led to certain points in this post.]   In his essay “Yiddish? Why Don’t We Speak Judeo-French?”, George...

read more

The Disappearance of Yiddish in Russia and Elsewhere in the FSU

Nov 22, 2015 by

A century ago Yiddish was the predominant language of Jews in the Russian Empire; three of my four grandparents, born in 1900s-1920s spoke Yiddish as their mother tongue. Yet according to the 2010 population census, only about 30,000...

read more

Non-standard English on the Islands of the South Atlantic

Nov 18, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: This post was originally published in August 2012.] The Falkland/Malvinas Islands consists of some 780 islands in South Atlantic, with the total area of about 4,700 square miles, which is slightly larger than...

read more

Brittany, Another Independence-Seeking European Region

Nov 18, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: This post was originally published in January 2014.] Brittany in northwestern France is one of several regions in Europe that is seeking increased autonomy, if not complete independence, and instructive parallels...

read more

Teaching Breton Language at Harvard

Nov 18, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: this post was originally published in September 2013.] In an op-ed piece entitled “What You (Really) Need to Know,” published in the New York Times in January 2012, Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard...

read more