The United States of Mind

Sep 18, 2016 by

[This post was originally published in November 2012] When I moved from upstate New York to California some five years ago, the culture shock was almost as significant as when I had moved from Russia to Israel, then to Canada, then...

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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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Is Yiddish to Be Traced to Turkey?

Apr 29, 2016 by

[Thanks to Leni Silberman for originally drawing my attention to one of the media reports, and to Antonia Cavendish, Maria Soukhanova, Anna Dybo, Peter Shalen, Razib Khan, and Martin Lewis for helpful discussions.]   In the past few...

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Castle, Geordie, and the lows of American prime time TV

Mar 2, 2016 by

One of my current students drew my attention to the latest episode of Castle (aired on ABC on February 29, 2016). So I figured, hey, it fits with the content of my class, I should watch it. I used to really like this show some years...

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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. Pereltsvaig...

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Ekaterina Lyutikova on Syntax Models (Or “Syntax for Laypeople&#...

Dec 24, 2015 by

[Note to Readers: the following is my translation from Russian of Ekaterina Lyutikova’s video lecture posted on, posted here with her permission. Some Russian examples have been replaced by corresponding English...

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