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Month: April 2016
In Greek, how do you say “tasty”?
νόστιμος, /nostimos/. The etymology (yes, that’s what I do) is odd. The primary meaning of nostos, the word that nostimos is derived from, is “return”: it’s the word for Odysseus’ return to Ithaca. Wheat gives a rich return on investment, so nostos also means the yield of ground grain. Hence the adjective means “abundant”, referring […]
I want to be a linguist focusing on conserving languages. Should I do it?
What my betters have said, with both the pros and cons from Don Grushkin’s answer. Be aware of the following constraints: Don’t get too caught up in what language you work on. A friend of mine came to Australia to write a grammar of an Aboriginal language, any Aboriginal language. There’s 20 healthy languages left, […]
Did the era of the ancient Greeks happened before the flood or during the biblical period and how long did their time last?
Without getting into the issue of how much of Genesis is historical and how much is wishful thinking: The Babylonian captivity, which can be independently verified from archaeology, was 580 to 530 BC. That’s when the Hebrew Scriptures as we know them were consolidated. Omri is the first independently verified King of Israel, and he […]
What is the correct pronunciation of “Chobani”?
The founder of Chobani is Turkish, and çoban is Turkish for “shepherd”. The final <i> is either decorative, or a link to Greek—which has borrowed the Turkish word as nominative tsopanis, oblique tsopani. Given çoban and tsopani, the intended pronunciation is presumably [tʃoˈbani], “choh-BAH-nee”. Answered 2016-04-29 [Originally posted on http://quora.com/What-is-the-correct-pronunciation-of-Chobani/answer/Nick-Nicholas-5]
Why does English not coin a word for New Zealanders’ nationality like making “New Zealand” as “Zeal,” (then) &/or adding to “Zeal” “i-s-h” or “i-a-n?”
Apart from the more reasonable answers from other respondents: English speakers can tell that the land in Zealand means land. (And they’re right.) They see that it’s Zealand not Zealland, so they’re not prompted to go from Zeal-(l)and to the backformation Zeal. Even if they were, zeal already means something in English. So instead, Zealand […]
How irregular is Ancient Greek?
You say irregular, I say older regularities that have fallen out of fashion. For example, the second aorist corresponds directly to English strong verbs—they’re both Ablaut. Ablaut used to be the regular way of making past tenses; then suffixing took over. But yes, there’s a lot of those older unfashionable regularities as cruft in the […]
How could Noam Chomsky say that Esperanto is not a language?
‘Cause he’s a reductionist shmuck. Longer answer: What Jens Stengaard Larsen’s answer said. To the Noam (tar his bones!), linguistics is an arm of neuropsychology, and anything that doesn’t reflect the (big sarcastic scare quotes) natural development of language is not of scientific interest. Lots of evil narrowminded blinkered linguists share the naturalist bias against […]
Can someone identify a particular Ancient Greek word in this text by Strabo?
http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0239%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D4%3Asection%3D1 Nothing to add to my esteemed colleagues, Lyonel. “Like a marine lung” is what it literally says; and the different relevant senses of “lung” (πλεύμων) that apply here, from Liddell-Scott, are: lungs sea-lungs = jelly fish The “jelly fish” meaning of πλεύμων is attributed to Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and—surprise—Pytheas, as cited in Polybius. i.e. […]
What is the best part about learning modern Greek?
How much more regular and simple the grammar is, compared to Ancient Greek. Downside: extensive borrowings from Ancient Greek have messed it all up again. The bits of Latin, Venetian, Turkish, Slavic, and even Catalan in the vocabulary, that show you how Greek history did not end with Alexander. Downside: a lot of these have […]
Can we let a language die if we record, document and translate it?
If you have to ask the question, it’s already doomed. Linguists can only record the language; only the language community can give up on it. If the language community wants to hold on to it, linguists can give them tools. But it’s not easy. EDIT: OP also asks: Also, why should we teach our childs […]