Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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27
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6answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
4k 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?
23
votes
3answers
721 views

Why was language not used to establish dominance throughout England 1066 AD–1360s CE?

Why didn’t the Normans enforce the use of their native tongue throughout the whole of England after William the Conqueror (of Normandy) became king of England? During William’s reign as king he ...
17
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
376 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. ...
16
votes
1answer
311 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
464 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
325 views

Was German ever an official language in the USSR?

What can be said about historical perspective of this document, seemingly composed in German?
13
votes
2answers
466 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
239 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
573 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
625 views

When did the Hebrews stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Aramaic?

The Torah was written Hebrew, and most of the old testament was written in Hebrew, although parts of Daniel were written in Aramaic. By the time of the 1st century, Aramaic was the common language for ...
11
votes
5answers
890 views

In what language did Caractacus deliver his speech to the emperor Claudius?

In The Annals, the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus wrote about the British chieftain Caractacus and how he was captured by the Romans. According to him, Caractacus was taken to Rome along with his ...
11
votes
2answers
303 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
159 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?
10
votes
4answers
1k 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?
10
votes
2answers
462 views

What was the cultural background of Burgundians?

In the Middle Ages there was a big country in Europe between France and German kingdoms, Burgundy. What language did they speak there? Were they more German or French in origin?
10
votes
3answers
260 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
102 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, ...
8
votes
6answers
344 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
326 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
370 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
206 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
344 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). ...
6
votes
2answers
317 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
396 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
261 views

Continent-wide common languages in human history

My question on rpg.stackexchange.com seems to have reached a point where a "history-person" would be quite suitable to answer it. So let me rephrase it, so as to be at least marginally suitable for ...
6
votes
1answer
331 views

What examples are of French and Arab cultural integration?

In the last centuries there were very close tights between the French Empire and its colonies in the Maghreb before and the immigrants and citizens of France after the decolonisation. What are the ...
5
votes
3answers
291 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
185 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
389 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. ...
5
votes
3answers
105 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
220 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?
5
votes
2answers
153 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.
5
votes
0answers
72 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
295 views

Did the roman conquerors have directives/guidelines to either integrate or assimilate foreign tribes/folks?

It is likely that Romans made no distinction between today's terms integration and assimilation. They did everything that was necessary for the expansion of the Roman empire and worked from ...
4
votes
1answer
146 views

Are there any existing foreign language teaching texts from the Ancient Near East?

The various cultures of the Ancient Near East spoke a wide array of languages and we know that there was plenty of communication between cultures. We even have a language like Akkadian that served as ...
4
votes
1answer
92 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" ...
4
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
451 views

What is the basis for the claims that the word “Israel” means “Exiled for their sins”?

Joseph Davidovits claims that the word "iisii-r-iar", "ysrỉar" or however you want to transcribe it, which appears on the Merneptah Stele, is an Egyptian phrase meaning "those who are exiled for their ...
3
votes
1answer
132 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. ...
3
votes
2answers
209 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) ...
3
votes
2answers
153 views

How is Bad-Tibira written in Sumerian?

Bad-Tibira is one of the oldest recorded cities in the world. The Sumerians believed it was the second city to exercise kingship (after the more famous Eridu). I can't find the Sumerian spelling of ...
3
votes
1answer
487 views

What is a mezrag-holder?

I stumbled upon this word in one of my anthropology readings. Here's the excerpt. The robbers were from a tribe which had not yet submitted to French authority and were in open rebellion against ...
3
votes
0answers
283 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
114 views

Sumerian cuneiform dictionary?

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
votes
0answers
72 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?
3
votes
0answers
160 views

Hebrew as the Language of America [closed]

Is it true that the Pilgrims upon coming to America,wanted to make Hebrew the spoken language as they intended to make it "the language"? (for example the Princeton emblem has Hebrew text)?
2
votes
3answers
2k 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?