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...

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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...

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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...

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Urum, a Turkic Language of Pontic Greeks, Its Contact with Russian—And...

Jul 17, 2015 by

Some enthnolinguistic maps of the Caucasus region, such as the one reproduced from GeoCurrents, show “Greek” as one of the groups in south-central Georgia and bordering areas of northern Armenia. In actuality, these are Pontic...

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The Fast-Disappearing Ninilchik Russian of Alaska—And Some of Its Ling...

Apr 6, 2015 by

Several followers of this blog and I have been discussing an article about the work of Andrei Kibrik (Moscow State University) and Mira Bergelson (The Higher School of Economics, Moscow) on “an antiquated dialect of Russian … still...

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Language Endangerment: Ideology or Fact?

Feb 13, 2015 by

I have been asked by a former student to comment on the article by Katie Wudel “Languages Are Going Extinct Even Faster Than Species”, published in the Good magazine online. Contrary to the name of the magazine, the article is...

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