On Language


Heading Into the 'I' of the Knaidel

By Philologos

Did Arvind Mahankali spell ‘knaidel’ correctly or not? The problem lies not with Yiddish, the New York Times or a 13-year-old boy. Philologos says it is the English language.Read More


A Very Yiddish Take on the Star Spangled Banner

By Philologos

Most people look at the American flag and see stars and stripes. But some Yiddish speakers, particularly the late poet Abraham Liessin, saw noodles and pasta.Read More


How Do You Say 'Fuhgeddaboudit' in Yiddish?

By Philologos

‘Fuhgeddaboudit’ certainly originated in New York, and most probably in Brooklyn’s criminal underbelly. Philologos delves deep into the underworld annals to get to its roots.Read More


Why Jews Didn't Always Seem To Have a Word for Sarcasm

By Philologos

Is it possible that neither Yiddish nor Hebrew had words for ‘cynical’ or ‘sarcastic’? Maybe, but we needn’t make assumptions about cultures by the words they seem to lack.Read More


Redemption of the First Shorn

By Philologos

Some Jews cut a boy’s hair for the first time when he turns 3. There is more to the ceremony of the opsherenish than meets the scissors.Read More


A Nebbish Is Born

By Philologos

We all know what a nebbish is. But it takes Philologos to track down its roots in nebekh, a Yiddish word with many, many meanings.Read More


Abbreviate This!

By Philologos

One of our readers would like to know the origins of the word nebekh. He’ll have to complete a crash course in the lively art of Yiddish abbreviation first.Read More


When To Call a Schmuck a Schmuck

By Philologos

There are many words for idiot. But few have the same ring as ‘schmuck.’ We offer a look at the word through the lens of Yiddish — and pop culture.Read More


The Sheynest Punim of Them All

By Philologos

The word ‘punim’ has worked its way into the Yinglish lexicon. But you’ll still need plenty of chutzpah to try and use it as a Scrabble word.Read More


How To Confuse a Gentile

By Philologos

Shhh Daber nisht! The phrase, which is a mix of Hebrew and Yiddish, was one of a few used by Jews in Europe to keep gentiles from listening to their conversations.Read More


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