Gagauz, the Turkic-Speaking Minority of Moldova

Dec 14, 2014 by

The recent parliamentary election that took place in Moldova on 30 November 2014 has drawn my attention to an often-overlooked ethno-linguistic group: the Gagauz. As can be seen from the ElectoralGeography.com map reproduced on the...

read more

Why the ‘Coffee’ Words Are Not Cognates

Dec 12, 2014 by

A former student of mine drew my attention to a recent article in Slate written by Alyssa Pelish and titled “The Stimulating History of Coffee: Why You Hear This Word Around the World” (the image on the left is reproduced from the...

read more

Language, Thought, Culture: A Reassessment

Dec 11, 2014 by

For the past ten weeks or so, my students in “Language & Mind” course and I have investigated the links between language, thought, and culture. In the first half of the course, we have re-examined the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis by...

read more

The Malagasy Language, Genes, and Gender Puzzle

Dec 9, 2014 by

[Many thanks to Rory van Tuyl for interesting and inspiring discussions.] Recent research by Peter Forster and Colin Renfrew of the University of Cambridge, discussed in my earlier post, shows that in gender-biased mixed communities,...

read more

The “Russian World”—What And Where Is It?

Dec 7, 2014 by

In the past five weeks or so, my students in “Russia Beyond the Russians” course at the Santa Clara University’s Osher Institute and I have grappled with the notion of ethnicity (or “nationality”) as it is understood—and...

read more

The Hermitage Museum: From London to St. Petersburg to Amsterdam

Dec 7, 2014 by

[Note: The Hermitage Museum, which will soon celebrate its 250th anniversary, has recently found itself in the center of a controversy surrounding the so-called Elgin Marbles, the much-disputed British Museum collection of Parthenon...

read more

Re-Branding Soviet-Jewish Nostalgia—Jewish Culture That Never Was

Dec 4, 2014 by

A few weeks ago, I attended a most interesting talk by Prof. Anna Shternshis of University of Toronto, who presented her research on the ways that elements of Jewish culture are re-branded and marketed in today’s Russia. This post...

read more