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Month: November 2015
How is rhyme used in different languages?
Sporadically in Classical Greek and Latin, as a rhetorical technique for both prose and poetry, rather than a basis of verse: Homeoteleuton. Systematically in Arabic and Chinese, but I don’t know much about them. In Europe, rhyme emerges as a structural feature of verse (as opposed to an occasional device) in the Late Middle Ages. […]
Why don’t we all use the IPA?
Nice idea, but of course even spelling reform is near impossible, let along script reform—unless you’re Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and your country is post-Ottoman Turkey. And even when your language community adopts a script from scratch, practicality means the script will look a lot closer to the local majority or prestige language’s script. And the […]
Why are Greeks so leftist?
Good question! I trust someone more knowledgable will reply (who actually lives there now). Of course, not all Greeks are leftist, and as with much of the West, the nominal left-wing parties have drifted further and further to the centre (Panhellenic Socialist Movement, PASOK). There are two related questions here: why has the Left been […]
What is the historical significance of Thessaloniki, Greece?
Up and coming city in the Roman Empire. Was the base of the Emperor Galerius. Very important city during Byzantium, to the extent of being termed the Co-Queen of Cities (συμβασιλεύουσα—the Queen of Cities being Constantinople). Main trading town for much of the Balkans. Major centre of Sephardic settlement after their expulsion from Spain—to the […]
How many Indigenous Australian languages are there? How similar are they?
At the time of European invasion *cough* settlement, the guesstimate is 200. The guesstimate is based on poor data, since many were wiped out so quickly, and on Lexicostatistics — because we don’t have enough data to make a good linguistic assessment of what counts as a different language otherwise. We could of course ask […]
Could emojis ever replace written language? Why or why not?
If you want emojis to be not just a bunch of nouns, but the basis of a full written language, with verbs and prepositions and pronouns—then you’re going to need to supplement emojis with some sort of grammatical sign system. They will end up looking a lot more like Blissymbols. Answered 2015-11-23 [Originally posted on […]
Was the Byzantine Empire in the Greek medieval state?
Yes and no, but in a different way from Andrew Baird’s answer. The lingua franca and administrative language was Greek. The Empire called itself Roman, but its scholars knew a lot about Ancient Greek and very little about Rome. The core of the Empire was Asia Minor, much of which was Greek-speaking until the Turkish […]
How did the future tense appear in Latin?
The future -b-, and for that matter the imperfect -b-, come from the Indo-European verb for “be”, bhu: The Latin Language. So amabo originally meant “I am to love”, and amabam “I was to love”. The process of words turning into grammatical affixes is called Grammaticalization. And one of the characteristics of grammaticalisation is that […]
What makes Modern Greek an interesting language to learn, from a purely linguistic point of view?
The consequences of diglossia, which persist even if diglossia itself does not—including the trainwreck of Modern Greek phonology from all the spelling pronunciations from Ancient Greek, the lexical and morphological doublets, and the all-round linguistic insecurity. The survival of archaisms in Indo-European, including the middle voice (semantically), the vocative, and the three genders As Joachim […]
What are the origins of the inhabitants of Mani in Greece – are they Spartan?
Agree with George Bekas, and one should always be wary of claims of genetic purity. But we do know anecdotally that: Its major town Gythium was a Spartan port They were very late converts to Christianity (10th century: Nikon the Metanoeite) Mani was a no-go area for certainly the Ottomans, and likely earlier invaders—so it’s […]