Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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7
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1answer
111 views

Could any Habsburg kings of Hungary speak Hungarian?

From 1526 to 1918, Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs. Could any of the Habsburg kings speak Hungarian, and if so, to what degree? I know that Sissi, the consort of Franz Joseph I, was particularly ...
3
votes
0answers
70 views

What is the origin of language? [closed]

The use of language is one of the most conspicuous and diagnostic traits that distinguish Homo sapiens from other species. Unlike writing, spoken language leaves no trace.Can we get a direct method in ...
1
vote
3answers
128 views

Why did Latin take root so deeply in Italy, Gaul, and the Iberian Peninsula, but not Greece or beyond?

I was just reflecting on the fact that Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French all evolved from Latin, the language spread across that area by the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. (Romanian too, I ...
10
votes
1answer
143 views

“The signal on the Zibby is dead” - what is the meaning of “Zibby”?

I am line editing a book about World War II and the Battle of the Coral Sea. The action is taking place in the front and rear cockpits of a Devastator torpedo-bomber aircraft. The pilot and gunner ...
23
votes
4answers
1k 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. ...
25
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does Romanian culture have Latin influences?

Romania is located between Bulgaria, Serbia on one side and Ukraine/many Slavic countries on the other. Romanian is however a Romance (Latin) language, and not Slavic. They don't use the Cyrillic ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

How and when was Portugal created?

We all know that the Iberian peninsula is separated between two major countries Spain and Portugal. My question is when and how was the country now known as Portugal formed? I mean yes they have an ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

What does the inscription on this sword mean?

The British Library has a 13th century sword with unknown inscription. They recently started a call to arms to translate the inscription. The inscription reads: NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI Its meaning is ...
16
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
167 views

Why is the motto of the Swedish university Chalmers in French: avancez?

Is there a historical reason for the fact that Chalmers university uses a French motto and not a Swedish one?
6
votes
3answers
171 views

Did the passage from Latin to English, in England, help science flourish?

On a YouTube video about the origins of English, they said that replacing Latin with English in science was beneficial to the field; scientists were thus able to easily discuss and understand the ...
3
votes
1answer
197 views

Did the Byzantine Empire use Roman numerals?

Wikipedia says about Byzantine emperor Heraclius that he was responsible for "introducing Greek as the Eastern Empire's official language". If so, is it right to assume that Byzantines used Roman ...
8
votes
4answers
852 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
233 views

What does it mean: “French was a lingua franca in the Ottoman caliphal court?”

According to the Economist: The Ottoman caliphate: Straddling two worlds Ruling from Istanbul, the caliphs kept polyglot courts, reflecting the multiple religions and races represented there. ...
4
votes
1answer
227 views

Who was the last English king whose first language was French?

What I remember from my college course is that whenever a delegation of barons came to discuss their grievances in English, the King would hear them out politely without understanding a word, conclude ...
2
votes
0answers
67 views

How did French people greet in 1400? [closed]

How did French people greet in 1400? In particular I'm looking for french expressions that a peasant like Saint Joan of Arc could have used to greet a friend.
5
votes
3answers
286 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
124 views

What was the first book translated from Japanese to any of the European languages?

What was the first Japanese book translated and published in one of the European languages? By "first" I mean the date of translation, not the original.
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Languages spoken by Josephus?

What languages did Josephus speak? He lived in the land of Israel during the first century CE. He wrote in Greek (so he obviously knew that), but did he know Hebrew, Aramaic, or Latin?
7
votes
2answers
204 views

When did English become a major subject in Japanese schools?

I used to think older Japanese people wouldn't have studied English at school, and recently came across someone who thought likewise (link available on request). A middle-aged Japanese person told me ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

Why did the the East-Pakistanis oppose Urdu as their national language while Indians accepted Hindi as theirs?

In 1947, Both India and Pakistan were given independence from Britain. India was able to establish Hindi as its national language with minimal problems. Pakistan on the other hand, was created with ...
6
votes
1answer
109 views

When were both minuscule and majuscule letters used for the first time in the same Latin manuscript?

I understand the first minuscule script appeared in the Latin alphabet in the 3rd century - "New Roman cursive". My question is: when did a script used both minuscule and majuscule letters in the ...
9
votes
1answer
124 views

What is the history of the use of word dividers in Greek?

In my understanding, Ancient Greek was usually written with a vertical line or three vertical dots separating words. This was phased out in favor of scriptio continua (continuous script) and ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Does written language change language more than oral tradition? [closed]

I'm not sure if this is a right forum, but I didn't find better from SE. I wonder if it is researched how much development of writing systems affects to language compared to languages that are not ...
5
votes
1answer
250 views

Oh the humanity!

I notice that during the legendary on-the-spot broadcast (and resulting newsreel) of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 features the exclamation from the broadcaster "Oh, the humanity!". Is this the ...
20
votes
1answer
1k views

Why did Meiji consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Emperor sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Why was that? Why, ultimately, was it unsuccessful? The Role of English and Other ...
0
votes
1answer
99 views

Where can I find a reliable method of translating English to Ancient Egyptian? [closed]

Having no prior knowledge of the language I am working on a project that requires me to name things using languages similar to ancient Egyptian. So far I have been using this website: ...
7
votes
1answer
547 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
273 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 ...
12
votes
9answers
8k 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, ...
2
votes
3answers
276 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
873 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
79 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, ...
2
votes
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?
34
votes
10answers
3k views

Are there confirmed cases where a country changed its language without being conquered?

I thought about this question and wondered: Are there any known cases where a country switched to a different language other than because of being conquered? If some country ever did this I would be ...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
184 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' ...
2
votes
2answers
477 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 ...
26
votes
6answers
6k views

What language(s) were spoken within the Holy Roman Empire?

What language(s) were considered the primary language for the Holy Roman Empire? Were there many different languages spoken due to the many different regions?
1
vote
1answer
159 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 ...
20
votes
3answers
3k views

How would slaves have addressed their masters in Ancient Greece?

In Ancient Rome, slaves addressed their masters as Dominus or Domina (male or female, respectively). Would the slaves (or servants) of Ancient Greece have used a similar title, or would they have ...
4
votes
1answer
267 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
432 views

Language of Franks vs later French

I am reading that before the 8-9th(10th?) century, Franks were a Germanic-speaking nation. How it is possible to explain that in later centuries their language became a totally different ...
5
votes
1answer
938 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" ...
6
votes
3answers
219 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
276 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. ...
2
votes
0answers
241 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
74 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
143 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 ...