Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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What did a carpenter's square signify, outside of carpentry? [on hold]

norm (n.) "standard, pattern, model," 1821, from French norme, from Latin norma "carpenter's square, rule, pattern," of unknown origin. Klein suggests a borrowing (via Etruscan) of Greek ...
6
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1answer
416 views

Why is German spoken in Upper Valais?

The Swiss region of Upper Valais is a German speaking region which is physically isolated from all other German speaking regions. The dialect spoken there is so different from other Swiss-German ...
6
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3answers
152 views

What was the most northern region/city in the Roman Empire that spoke Greek as the native language?

My understanding is that prior to the migrations/invasions of the Goths, Huns and Sklavenoi into the Balkan peninsula, Greek and Latin where the most common native languages, alongside other steadily ...
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1answer
61 views

Did ancient peoples apply starch to clothing?

Source: See p 6 of 10 of the PDFs, first leftward para. Beware that p 6 of the PDF is labelled as p 18 on the document itself. The English name of starch, as well as its equivalent in German, ...
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1answer
141 views

How do historians decide who to refer to as 'the allies?'

In many major wars one side has been branded collectively as the allies. In WWI and WWII we refer to the American/British coalition as the allies. I have heard Rome both fighting against the 'allies' ...
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2answers
231 views

How did Napoleon I succeed in France despite his shortcomings in French?

TL;DR. My question: The following sources onfirm that despite Napoleon's industry and perseverance, he never refined his French to the level of a native fluent speaker. So how did he succeed in ...
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1answer
136 views

What are the modern names of the nations mentioned in Ystoria Mongalorum?

Giovanni Carpini in his Ystoria Mongalorum lists as factions under the dominion of the Mongol Empire: Nations that have been subjugated: Meniti Colona-Thorati Sassi Thoas Sarthi ...
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9answers
5k views

Why did English become Lingua Franca of the modern world? [closed]

According to a guy on Quora: English became the lingua-franca of the world because of the United states and not England. But, throughout the 17th and 18th century, many Europeans (English, ...
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1answer
167 views

Historically, how did people living in distant regions communicate?

For example, how did Marco Polo manage to communicate with the Chinese and the Mongolians during his travels? Did he learn Chinese? Did he manage to find a Chinese translator somehow? Was there a ...
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1answer
85 views

Morse code is a ternary human-optimised code, is there a binary, non-machine optimised code? [closed]

http://cs.stackexchange.com/questions/34067/is-morse-code-without-spaces-uniquely-decipherable Discusses how Morse code isn't very clear without the third (usually) unseen element, the space. Is ...
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1answer
215 views

What's the etymology of the name of the Schengen village?

The Luxembourg village of Schengen is noted for being the site where European leaders signed the historic Schengen Agreement. The village is named for its 1390 castle. Where does the name "Schengen" ...
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3answers
165 views

State of temporary recklessness of ancient Greeks

It was once explained to me that in ancient Greece when a person was reflecting on their own action that they later recognised as reckless or shameful, they would say that the gods have "blinded" them ...
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1answer
191 views

In a Nazi concentration, labor, or death camp, what was a “'sale' Appel”?

I have listened to 100+ hours of testimonies by Holocaust survivors. Those who were in concentration, labor, or death camps invariably described the brutal roll calls known in German as Appels. ...
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0answers
199 views

How did Helen Keller understand English? [closed]

Helen Keller has fascinated me for quite some time. What she achieved in her life time, being both blind and deaf. One question though, how did she begin to comprehend the English language being ...
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0answers
66 views

Capitalization of countries names in 1965 [closed]

On a random search using google ngram viewer (looking at relative word usage by year) I noticed that there was a spike in the use of "japan", "korea", "vietnam" and "china" without capital letters in ...
4
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1answer
124 views

What determined the order of letters in the alphabet

I'm sure that we can trace the order of letters in the modern Latin alphabet to precursors (the Greek alphabet, various Semitic writing systems). But at some point an order had to be chosen for ...
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3answers
854 views

When did the Greeks stop calling themselves “Roman”?

I've been reading a lot about the Byzantine Empire recently, and one of the things I see pointed out over and over again is that "Byzantine" is a term coined by historians, not by the people ...
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1answer
180 views

Technology and status symbols that predate language [closed]

I remember distinctly reading about peoples and cultures - in, I believe, the Caucasus - that used to knap large flakes of flint into spearheads and would use them (instead of actual tools) as status ...
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5answers
147 views

Why some countries have more than one name? [closed]

I know Persian Language, In persian (Farsi) that is an old language we call Netherlands “Holland” , call Germany "Alman", Call Poland "Lahestan", call India "Hend" and etc. What is the reason and Why ...
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2answers
283 views

In 1861, few Italians spoke Italian?

The Economist claims Italy was created by a small elite at a time when more than 90% of the peninsula’s inhabitants did not speak Italian. (Source: Special Report on Italy, June 11th, 2011, p. 3) ...
6
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3answers
509 views

Why didn't Turkish become an official language in former Ottoman colonies in the Middle-East and North Africa?

The main language in the Middle East is Arabic, however English and French considered as a secondary language. Especially in Algeria, Morocco and Lebanon (there are other countries..) people still use ...
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1answer
274 views

Why haven't Etruscan texts survived?

In Wikipedia it's claimed that Etruscan Civilization had a rich literature, but only one Etruscan text has survived. And AFAIK at the same moment we have many Ancient Greeks texts roughly from the ...
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2answers
274 views

What was the ancient Egyptian word for “soldier”?

I can't find it anywhere on the Internet, and I was hoping someone here might know.
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2answers
394 views

Which undeciphered writing system has the largest corpus of text?

Dozens of ancient writing systems are still undeciphered. My question is: Which of them has the largest number of known inscriptions (and might thus be most accessible to future decipherment, though ...
6
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1answer
428 views

What language did Petlura speak casually?

In Bulgakov's novel "The White Guard" one of the characters, Turbin alleges that Simon Petlura does not speak Ukrainian language himself despite the measures he took to promote it. Are there any ...
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0answers
431 views

Why are Indian states divided based on the native language spoken? [closed]

All the Indian states are divided on the basis of language the native people speak such that each state has a native language which is not well spoken in other states. Is this kind of division ...
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1answer
258 views

Which language is oldest in India? [closed]

Which language is oldest in India?
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1answer
422 views

What language does this look like?

I was hoping someone here could help tell me what language this is? The hint for this is Mary Queen of Scots, but I have no background in historical languages, and was hoping maybe someone here does. ...
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1answer
235 views

African Clicking Language

During a class a friend of mine brought up an African Clicking language. I don't have a lot of information about this. Which language groups in Africa include clicking, and what is known about the ...
0
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1answer
228 views

Is the modern German language the same as it was in Roman times? [closed]

Was the German language influenced by any other languages? How did the German language get to what we hear today? I know that the letters were influenced by Latin, but did the language change or just ...
11
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7answers
625 views

Why was not Greek alphabet adopted by other languages given the Greek influence?

Most of western languages adopt the Latin alphabet with minor variations. Arabic letters are adopted by quite a few other languages. The same is true for Eastern Europe with Cyrillic letters. Why was ...
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3answers
230 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization? [closed]

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
15
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3answers
890 views

How much is known about the Punic language (of classical Carthage)?

How much is known of the Carthaginian language, which as I understand it is called Punic and descended from Phoenician? Google searches show some sketches of alphabet characters and such, but do we ...
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3answers
630 views

Why did modern “Romania” remain the most “Roman” part of the Balkans?

The so-called "Romanians" are the Vlachs who inhabited the territory just north of the Danube in Roman times, and today. Wallachia (home of the Vlachs), represented the outer limit or Roman expansion. ...
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3answers
395 views

Was German ever an official language in the USSR?

What can be said about historical perspective of this document, seemingly composed in German?
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1answer
422 views

Colonisation of India: Which regions of the United Kingdom did colonial personnel come from?

I'm a linguist doing research on the emergence of new dialects of English spoken in former colonies, especially India. These new dialects have two major influences: (1) Interference from the mother ...
4
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0answers
288 views

When and how did English become the Lingua Franca? [closed]

Specifically, how did it supplant French as the international language? Even in the height of Pax Britannica, many English upperclassmen still saw French as the more romantic language. How was this ...
5
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1answer
280 views

In what language was the first zionist congress in basel in 1897 held?

In what language was the first zionist congress in Basel held? Was it Yiddish, Hebrew, German, English? Where there translators?
14
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1answer
345 views

Did Noah Webster ever state why he Americanized spelling?

I am aware that Noah Webster (1758--1843 AD) is responsible for the majority of the differences between British and American spelling (IE: "color" v "colour"). Over time, it seems, in his Speller ...
3
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0answers
129 views

Sumerian cuneiform dictionary? [closed]

Is there a single, unified place where one can look up cuneiform signs for Sumerian words? Unicode now supports cuneiform, but every source I've found has only transliterations, not actual cuneiform. ...
3
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0answers
90 views

Which is closer to Old Dutch? [closed]

The Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium and the Netherlands are diverse, but if a general statement can be made, which, as spoken today, is closer to the root of the language?
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4answers
412 views

The practice of translating foreign monarch's or noble's name

In history texts, past foreign monarchs are normally referred to by the English version of their name, e.g. Francis I (not François), Charles V (not Carlos, Karel, or Karl), Phillip II (not Felipe). ...
2
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2answers
3k views

Which is the oldest language in the World? [closed]

I want to know which are the oldest languages in the world? And within those, which is still in use?
12
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1answer
203 views

Language of early French (West-Frankish) kings

When did Old French displace Frankish as the language spoken in the West-Frankish court, and who was the first natively "French" king?
8
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1answer
546 views

How is it possible that the basque language survived until today?

The mysterious Basque is the mother tongue of only few people, spoken in Vizcaya, a northern province in Spain. It is not similar to any major European language in use today and it's origins are ...
10
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1answer
123 views

Language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages

I would like to know which was the spoken and literary language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages. Is it possible to differentiate between social groups in the cloister (monks, laymen, ...
5
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0answers
94 views

Were does Tifinagh come from?

Because all of my knowledge of Tifinagh came from the Wikipedia article, I was quite puzzled to read this. For those of you that just don't bother checking, the author describes the different ...
13
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2answers
693 views

What are the reasons of the ethnical fragmentation of the Caucasus?

While investigating on Albania, I kept finding peoples I never heard of before. Notwithstanding my vast ignorance, this was systematic to the point that I started investigating. Take a look at this ...
5
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3answers
216 views

What language was the Charter of Liberties written in?

While researching my answer for the What was the official language used across European monarchies in the XII century? question I came upon the Charter of Liberties, or Coronation Charter, issued by ...
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2answers
383 views

What was the official language used across European monarchies in the XII century?

I have been reading about European history in the XII century and I am finding out that several of the modern day languages hadn't yet evolved to what they are now: Langue d'oïl was still being used ...