Turkey, Shmurkey! — A Response to Das et al. (2016)

Jun 10, 2016 by

As promised in an earlier post, I am presenting here an informal response to the article, published recently in Genome Biology and Evolution by Paul Wexler, Eran Elhaik and colleagues (henceforth, Das et al. 2016). To summarize my...

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Religiosity in Russia

May 6, 2016 by

[Thanks to Boris Denisov and Martin Lewis for helpful discussions of these issues.] A recent question from a student about just how religious Russians really are has sent me to look for statistics on this issue. As sociologists of...

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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 Jochnowitz...

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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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On God, Politeness, and the T-V Distinction

Sep 22, 2015 by

This is another post inspired by a question from (and discussion with) David Benkof, who asks about the following “intriguing conundrum for the High Holidays”, when (religious) Jews are thinking “about what our relationship with God...

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Slavs and Their Languages—Reconciling Genetics and Linguistic Findings...

Sep 8, 2015 by

[Thanks to Martin Lewis for helpful discussions, for crafting the passages from our book cited below, and for excellent editorial comments on earlier drafts of this post.]   A recent article by a team of scholars led by Oleg...

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