Month: February 2016

What non-Roman scripts keep foreign words in Roman?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Modern Greek, Writing Systems

In the last few decades, written Greek uses Roman script for foreign names by default, unless the name is extremely newsworthy. So you’ll see Το συγκινητικό ντοκιμαντέρ για τη ζωή της Amy Winehouse (The moving documentary on Amy Winehouse’s life) Rehab της Amy Winehouse, σε διασκευή των Vocal Adrenaline. (Rehab by Amy Winehouse, arranged by […]

History: During Alexander’s invasions, would his soldiers have found Old Persian or Indic to be somewhat familiar sounding given their closeness to Greek?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-20 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Linguistics

Good insight, Sabeshan. Probably.  And they probably wouldn’t have cared. 300 BC was a good time to be doing historical linguistics. The Indo-European languages were a lot closer to each other back then than they are now. In fact, the only reason Indo-European was discovered and reconstructed when it was, was that we had 2000 […]

Since we say Slovenia, Serbia, and Croatia, then why do we say Czech Republic instead of Czechia?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-17 | Comments: 2 Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

I am going to regret wading into this. I am quite OK to say Czechia; then again, I have been exposed to languages that are quite OK to say Czechia (Tschechei, Tchéquie, Τσεχία, Ĉeĥio). So why the anomaly in English? It could be an endogenous reason—because Czechia doesn’t work for English speakers; or it could […]

Is degrammaticalization real?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Linguistics, Modern Greek

Well. Grammaticalisation theory posits that there is a regular process in language of content words becoming function words and then bound morphemes. Opponents of grammaticalisation theory (e.g. Lyle Campbell, Brian Joseph) posit that grammaticalisation theory is not particularly meaningful if there are counterexamples (degrammaticalisation), whereby function words or bound morphemes become content words. Their ultimate […]

Is an accent sufficient in forming a dialect?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-14 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Linguistics

If the accent deviates only in intonation, probably not: intonations are difficult to capture schematically; and by the time you have a different intonation, typically there’ll be a whole lot of other differences anyway. If (as your question posits) you have only phonetic differences, but not phonological (so the same spelling system does just fine […]

Why do we learn Ancient Greek and Latin using the modern alphabet and not the ancient ones used at the time?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-13 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Ancient Greek, Writing Systems

It’s an interesting question, with a boring answer. Because there’s no point. Let’s break that down though. 1. Right up until the 19th century, the main language being written in Greek script was Ancient Greek; and right up until the 17th, the main language being written in Roman script was Latin. The script hands and […]

How was Athens chosen as capital for the Greece?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-13 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: History, Modern Greek

Ancestor worship. The first capital of Greece was Nafplio (Nauplia), which was an important port in Ottoman times, while Athens was an insignificant village that attracted the odd Western tourist. In 1834, King Otto (himself a Western tourist) decreed that the capital of Greece shall be the most important city of Ancient Greece. For after […]

What is the Greek word for heaven?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-11 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

Ouranos for “sky, heaven”, and pre-Christian and proto-Christian notions of heaven. It’s what “Our father who art in Heaven” uses. And yes, that is the same word as Uranus; Uranus was the sky god. Once Christianity was entrenched, Heaven as in where the virtuous dead go is Paradeisos, Paradise, as it is in Catholic languages […]

Has anyone got any ideas for a simple grammar design?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-08 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Artificial Languages

Look at Interglossa. Minimal number of verbs (a dozen?), which basically only encode thematic structures (feel, act, react, become…); and lots of verb modifiers, which capture the actual verb semantics. A thing of beauty, which has not really been followed up. Answered 2016-02-08 [Originally posted on]

Is the modern pronunciation of Greek accurate for koine?

By: | Post date: 2016-02-07 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Mediaeval Greek

It’s close. This is from memory, so I could be wrong in a couple of details. 1st century AD Koine was the same as Modern Greek in the following: Stress accent, not pitch accent Diphthongs pronounced as single vowels Most vowels with modern values Most consonants with modern values No aspiration It differs as follows: […]