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what's meant by "stein" in Einstein?

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The Jews in central and eastern Europe spoke Yiddish, a form of German (the main difference probably being that it is written in hebrew letters). They also did not use family names until forced to do so by local governments, which led to the creation of many 'colorful' names, that also today, when retransliterated into the latin alphabet, are 'understandable' by a speaker of German (the Jewish origin is also immediately recognizable.)

Besides -stein, many other endings such as -stern (star) or -berg (mountain) are quite common in these names.

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