On Language

An Unusual Holy Book: The Islamic Ahmadiyya sect translated parts of the Koran into Yiddish.

The Yiddish Quran

Philologos examines how odd it would be for an ultra-Orthodox Jew to read the Muslim holy book in a tongue so inextricably linked to Judaism.

Neither a Niftar Nor a Nishperer Be

You never know what’s going to happen when Philologos delves too deep into his mail sack. This week, he discusses the problem of nishperers, who rummage around too much.

Yoshke of Nazareth

Jews have many name for Jesus, not all of them nice. Some Yiddish speakers used a dismissive epithet translating roughly as Little Joe. Others call him son of Panther.

How To Get a Haircut in Lvov

There are plenty of ways to tell a Jewish boy to get a haircut. In Yiddish, a mom uses three languages to send a mop-haired son to the barber, Philologos writes.

No Nudgy Nudniks: Some people can be nudgy while others are just nudniks. Philologos feels inspired to explain the difference.

Nudge, Nudge. Wink, Wink.

A noodge is constantly nudging you to do something. The nudnik may simply want a listener. Thanks for clearing that up, Philologos!

I've Been Thinking 'Bout the Railroad

The catchy Yiddish song ‘Di Ban’ depicts the reaction of Jews to the arrival of the railroads. Philologos says not everyone was happy with the technological advance.

Strange Case of Daleds

The Hebrew letter daled comes from the word for door. But its name has changed in a linguistically unusual way. Our intrepid Philologos slams shut the debate.

Sorcerer for the Goose and Gander

The Yiddish word for witch is a nasty word to use about your mother. It also provides sca-a-a-a-ry case study in the changing face of linguistics for Philologos.

L'Chaim a Bad Grammatical Error?

Jews have been toasting with the expression ‘L’chaim’ for centuries. Philologos investigates a reader’s complaint that we may have been wrong for just as long.

Unpacking 'Umgepotch' A Word for Sloppy

Our language columnist answers a reader who wants to know the nuance of ‘potchkie’ — a slap, a dawdle or a waste of time.