The French say tu to close friends and vous with others, which won’t work in Hebrew or English. In his final column for the Forward, Philologos explains these linguistic intimacies.
What if Israel wasn’t a Jewish state but a Hebrew state? Having one common language might help forge one Israeli identity — but not without some problems.
Being called ‘chicken’ is one thing but ‘chickenshit’ is quite another. Philologos explains why Benjamin Netanyahu got so upset when the diplomatic stuff hit the fan.
A common Yiddish phrase literally means ‘I have it in the left earlock.’ Philologos investigates the idiom, which does not require knowledge of Jewish hairstyles.
At the heart of the Shemini Atzeret rain prayer, there is a reference to ‘the angel of rain.’ Philologos investigates how it wound up in the Sukkot celebration.
Just as it is a commandment not to eat on Yom Kippur, it is also a commandment to eat before it. Philologos says there is no other meal of the Jewish year which is required of the faithful.
When we speak of erev rosh hashanah, are we using proper Hebrew or an Americanism? Philologos explains the answer is not as clear as night and day.
As the Scottish independence vote looms, Philologos investigates the origins of Scots Yiddish. Is it a dialect, a language all its own — or something else entirely?
ISIS changes its name every few years. Philologos explains that this signals the terrorist group’s desire to dissolve the Muslim world’s establishment boundaries.
A European writer recently equated Zionists with Beelzebub, Satan’s right-hand man. Philologos explains the origins of this mysterious biblical character.