"By reconstructing the Yiddish mother tongue, linguists hope to plot the migration of the Jews and their language with a precision never possible before.
"It has even been suggested, on the basis of linguistic evidence, that the Jews of Eastern Europe were not predominantly part of the diaspora from the Middle East, but were members of another ethnic group that adopted Judaism.
"...One linguist has recently argued that Yiddish began as a Slavic language that was 'relexified,' with most of its vocabulary replaced with German words.
"...Even more troublesome are demographic studies indicating that during the Middle Ages there were no more than 25,000 to 35,000 Jews in Western Europe. These figures are hard to reconcile with other studies showing that by the 17th century there were hundreds of thousands of Jews in Eastern Europe.