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Month: December 2016
Is use of diminutives that lost their diminutive meaning a common phenomenon in the development of languages?
I believe it is (add Russian, bigtime), but I’ve just gone through half a dozen historical linguistics textbooks, and it’s not discussed separately in any of them. I was even struggling to find a good term describing this phenomenon: lexicalised diminutives I guess is the best. The problem is that semantic change is massively variegated, […]
Ancient Greek: where is a “w” sound used in Greek?
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MOvVWiDsPWQ OK, Nick wading in. Like James Garry and Robert Todd said: the digamma, ϝ, is an archaic letter of Greek, pronounced as /w/. It is present as a sound in Linear B, and it survived into Aeolic, but it did not survive into the other *written* dialects of Greek. We know it was there […]
What unpopular opinions do you have about linguistics?
Not that controversial, but I think there’s a lot to be said for diachronic explanations of language, and the synchronic/diachronic distinction is somewhat artificial. Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is functional grammar? will explain that a little bit: functional accounts are kind of diachronic to begin with (what function does this linguistic component serve in […]
What are some examples of sentences that can be either Ancient Greek or Modern Greek?
Hm. No participles, no infinitives, no relativisers, no conditionals. Some conjunctions are the same, but you can already see we’re surrendering a lot of syntactic complexity to do this. No future or perfect, no unaccented augments, no datives, no prepositions with genitives (and the rest look different anyway), bits of the 1st and 3rd declensions […]
Is the Ancient Greek contribution to Western civilization overstated?
Whensoever you get a silly-looking premiss, think harder. 🙂 It’s a very good question, Habib le toubib. I mean, in one way, of course not, Western civilisation started with the Greeks, and throughout the renaissance, it kept checking back with the Greeks, to see whether they were Doing It Right. But on the other hand, […]
Did George Michael speak Greek?
My father used to to work with a nurse who was from the same village as George Michael’s father. I asked him years ago, and he sneered that George Michael doesn’t know what Greek means. There’s also this: “Thank you… for thir-… twenty five… years.” Very halting, and no accent fluency. Comments in the YouTube […]
What is functional grammar?
Vote #1 Trevor Sullivan: Trevor Sullivan’s answer to What is functional grammar? It’s the correct answer, but not defensive enough for my liking. 🙂 So treat this answer as a restatement of his. There are several ways of explaining why language is the way it is. Originally, the split was between diachronic and synchronic explanations. […]
Would Greek Cypriots accept the return of the north of Cyprus if the Turkish Cypriots were expelled?
I’ll second Spyros Theodoritsis. Yes, Greek Cypriots killed Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus in intercommunity violence. Yes, there was de facto partition of the island since 1963. Yes, if you talk to at least some Greek Cypriots for long enough (as I did with my uncle there), you’ll work out that despite their professed desire for […]
Why did the Ancient Greeks refer to Ancient Blacks (the Ethiopians) as ‘blameless’ and ‘favored by the gods’? Also, what does it mean?
(Oh, God, not Afrocentric history, anything but that.) Afrocentric pages online say Diodorus Siculus said: “The Aethiopians (Ethiopians) are high favored with the gods, they were the first of all men created by the gods and were the founders of the Egyptian Civilization.” Diodorus Siculus actually says this: LacusCurtius • Diodorus Siculus Now the Ethiopians, […]
Why can’t we perceive onomatopoeia in other languages as easily as in our native language?
René Alix has basically covered it in his answer (Vote #1 René Alix’s answer to Why can’t we perceive onomatopoeia in other languages as easily as in our native language?) But there’s something that’s only implicit in René’s answer, that I’ll make explicit: No actual dogs really sound like that. And so you get the […]