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Month: March 2016

Why is it that most of the brilliant philosophers are Germans if the history tells us that philosophy came from Greece?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-10 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, History

Why are the best tomato-based pasta sauces Italian, if history tells us that tomatoes came from the Americas? 2500 years is a long time; and in at least some ways, what the Germans were doing with philosophy in the 18th and 19th century was far from what the Greeks did in the 5th century BC […]

What is the most difficult non-English tongue twister you know?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-10 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

A couple from Modern Greek: Μια πάπια μα ποια πάπια. mja papja ma pja papja. “A duck, but which duck?” Surprisingly difficult. Άσπρη πέτρα ξέξασπρη κι απ’ τον ήλιο ξεξασπρότερη. aspri petra kseksaspri c ap ton iʎo kseksasproteri. “White stone, utterly white, even more utterly white than the sun.” Ο παπάς ο παχύς έφαγε παχιά […]

What is language?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-10 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Linguistics

Originally Answered: Hah. Having lectured Intro To Linguistics, I should be able to come up with a definition without going to Wikipedia. Ok: a language is a system of signs that are associated with meaning, and which can be combined to express more complex meanings. That doesn’t limit language to spoken languages, hearing languages, or […]

Is the Modern Greek letter beta (Ββ) pronounced “b” or “v”?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-08 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

To make explicit what others are hinting at: it is pronounced /v/, but is often transliterated as /b/ for consistency with ancient Greek. You won’t see it with modern names, but you may see it library catalogues, for example, which often use the same transliteration for ancient and modern Greek. And if a name is […]

What are languages you can understand even though you never learned them?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-03 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Other Languages

I have high school French, self taught Latin, and Esperanto. I’ve never studied Italian, but between working in an Italian languages department, exposure to classical music, and some guesswork, I’ve actually had basic Italian conversations while in Italy. Answered 2016-03-03 [Originally posted on http://quora.com/What-are-languages-you-can-understand-even-though-you-never-learned-them/answer/Nick-Nicholas-5]

What is the etymology of the word “egotism”?

By: | Post date: 2016-03-02 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

ego + ism is just about the complete story, but not quite. ego + ism = egoism. In fact, when French coined the word in 1755 (Online Etymology Dictionary ), they coined it as égoisme; and when Greek took the word in from French, they kept it as εγωισμός. But someone somewhere early on found […]

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