Questions tagged [english-language]

For questions about the historical use of English. Linguistic questions are off-topic but can be asked on our sister sites for English Language & Usage and English Language Learners.

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50
votes
3answers
8k views

Why is AD in Latin and BC is in English?

Why does one abbreviation for designating time come from Latin (AD: anno Domini), but the other corresponding to the time before that from English (BC: before Christ)? BC = before Christ AD = anno ...
5
votes
2answers
356 views

Did allied soldiers in the WWII Pacific Theater use the term 'flak' for anti-aircraft guns?

I just stumbled upon a clip from the movie 'Unbroken', where the crew of a bomber stationed in the Pacific refer to anti-aircraft fire as 'flak'. Flak, of course, is short for 'Flugabwehrkanone', the ...
2
votes
1answer
319 views

In this letter from the English Civil War, what does THO stand for?

(Not sure if this should be on the English.SE. I ask here since it is quoted from a historical document.) Sir, I do by these summon you to deliver up the City of Oxford into my hands, for the use of ...
85
votes
4answers
8k views

What were paper airplanes called before there were real airplanes? (i.e. untethered winged flyers, not kites or balloons)

According to the Google Ngram Viewer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Ngram_Viewer) the English word "airplane" was practically unused before the year 1900. Given that paper is ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

At what stage are the first two digits of a year's name dropped? [closed]

Today, we mostly refer to years in their full name: 2020 as "twenty twenty", or "two thousand twenty". In the late 1900s, we were mostly using the short form: 1995 as "ninety ...
11
votes
3answers
424 views

What was the first documented mention of American English different from British English?

What was the first documented account (newspaper article or book) that points out American English emerging with its pronunciation, vocabulary and distinctly different from British English?
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Why were Union troops referred to as "lop-eared Dutch"?

I am reading "A History of Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas by William Monks" (published 1907). I am also recording it and posting my recordings to YouTube. In it, the Confederates ...
68
votes
3answers
9k views

How and when did the word "nuclear" replace the word "atomic"?

In the early "Atomic Age", nuclear technology was generally termed "atomic" in English. There was "A-bomb", "atomic reactor" and "Atomic Energy Commission&...
5
votes
1answer
910 views

What was the first college in an English-speaking country to use Latin in their motto?

I have looked at many universities and seen how in English speaking countries, their mottoes tend to be written in Latin. What was the first college/university in an English-speaking nation-state (...
6
votes
2answers
803 views

Why does the name "England" hold no reference to the Saxons?

Something that has always surprised me was that originally Saxon kings were referred to as kings of the Angles or kings of the English when they conquered or reconquered the Germanic parts of the ...
4
votes
0answers
241 views

What is the origin of the name of the street Kings Butts in London, and its lack of apostrophes?

I’m mainly interested in why there are no apostrophes in this name. If Butts refers to archery, then why not “King’s Butts” or “Kings’ Butts”? Are apostrophes commonly omitted in historical London ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why has English become the global language?

I love the English and English. I am truly fascinated by the expansion of the English language across the globe. According to linguists all languages are great and unique. If it is a fact, why ...