For 24 years, Philologos has graced our pages with an erudite, engaging and often surprising column about language. He has decided to leave the Forward.
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.
Philologos admits that he is no stranger to profanity, and defends himself against critics, who argue that he misinterpreted what it meant when Benjamin Netanyahu was called ‘chickenshit.’
Philologos points out that not every rabbi is a ‘rabbinical scholar’ and not every rabbi’s pupil is a smart man. Did a Forward article muddy the Talmudic waters?
Should we bend over backward to avoid using male-centric language? No, argues Philologos, because political correctness can sometimes get in the way of communicating properly.
The New York Times isn’t the only paper that can have a little trouble with Hebrew: Philologos takes issue with an article that recently appeared in the Forward.
Why doesn’t any Jewish language have a word for ‘fun’? It’s not because the tribe doesn’t know how to amuse itself, Philologos explains.
Is it possible that Yiddish comes from Sorbian, a little-known Slavic language that is still spoken by a few thousand people in Germany? Philologos says it very well might have.
The origins of Yiddish are subject to serious scholarly dispute. It’s so serious, in fact, that Philologos dedicates a second column to deciphering its beginnings.
The origin of Yiddish was long thought to be an open-and-shut case for Jewish historians. But serious linguistic and genetic challenges have made it a much tougher call.