Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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How to coordinate the relationship between Corded Ware(Fatyanovo-Abashevo), Sanskrit and Graeco-Aryan?

The latest research shows that the R1a-Z93 of Sintashta and Andronovo originated from the Corded Ware culture (Middle Dnieper-Fatyanovo-Abashevo). If so, Sanskrit would be unified with Germanic and ...
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How and when did the Latin alphabet become predominant over Jawi in Malaysia?

The Jawi alphabet is still used in Malaysia, and there are certain policies that promote its continued use, but Latin script is far more dominant. At what point did the Malay population as a whole ...
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2 votes
0 answers
190 views

What languages could David Livingstone speak?

What languages could David Livingstone speak? I am certain that he spoke English and Setswana, but presumably neither of these would have been any use for the last seven years of his life. I have ...
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4 votes
0 answers
143 views

Was there an alchemical symbol given for pitchblende?

In 1789 Martin Klaproth isolated uranium from pitchblende for the first recorded time, however uranite was used in dying glass in the first century. Through the age of alchemy, I have not been able to ...
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4 votes
2 answers
190 views

Was it common in Europe in the modern era that proper names were translated?

My question is partially motivated by this question. I know that up until early 20th century in Hungarian many (or even most) foreign names were translated. For example this poster from 1864 mentions &...
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7 votes
0 answers
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Why is there such a dramatic shift in Tamil script during the 3rd to 5th centuries AD?

I have already asked this question in Linguistics.SE but I didn't get any answers and the comments there spoke of historical reasons rather than Linguistics shifts so I'm asking here. Recently, I was ...
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7 votes
1 answer
515 views

When was the last moment that Dutch, German and Swiss German were the same language?

As a Dutch person with a German partner living in Zürich I've been wondering this for years. I've gathered a few details here and there, one of my sources is a book called the "Atlas für Deutsche ...
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33 votes
2 answers
2k views

Until when was Marseille Greek-speaking?

Marseille was originally a Greek city. It fell to the Romans in 49 BC, but without suffering very much. Given the widespread use of the Greek language in the Roman Empire, it is not clear to me that ...
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27 votes
1 answer
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How likely is it that any non-Celtic language was spoken in the British Isles when the Romans invaded?

We know from Roman writers the names (or Latinized versions of them) of many ancient British tribes that they encountered, the Iceni, Parisi, Trinovantes etc. but the Romans were rarely interested in ...
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38 votes
1 answer
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What language did Gaius Julius Caesar speak with Cleopatra?

What language did Gaius Julius Caesar (GJC) speak with Cleopatra? My thoughts: GJC spoke Latin. Cleopatra spoke many languages, including Arabic, Aramaic, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek. Or did they need a ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What kind of slang terms were used in Massachusetts in 1947?

I'm writing a story is set in Massachusetts in 1947, one of the main characters is living there and has been for a decade but was educated in the UK. I'm trying to work out what his language is like ...
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50 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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In light of genetic genealogy, are there any new theories for the introduction of Goidelic to Britain and Ireland

There is DNA evidence of two major waves of Indo-European migration to Britain and Ireland. The first wave of migration occurred in the early Bronze Age. The second wave of migration occurred in the ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Why do many Indian Languages have different alphabets?

I see that German, English and French mostly share the same basic set of alphabet and these are languages are spoken by whole countries but if you go to India, there is a state with a new alphabet set ...
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25 votes
2 answers
4k views

What language did Brahe talk with Kepler?

What language did Tycho de Brahe use to talk with Johannes Kepler? Latin? They met in February 1600 and Brahe died in October 1601. Brahe was Danish, Kepler was German, i.e. a different nationality.
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15 votes
7 answers
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How can I properly learn the history of a country whose language I don't speak or read?

I was trying to learn some history of the Middle East; however, I thought to myself that most relevant sources about it are in Arabic, a language I don't know how to read or write, and you must rely ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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When did Turkic languages emerge in Central Asia? [closed]

Consider the countries Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. They speak Turkic languages (alongside some Russian). It was primarily Iranic people (Scythians and Persians) who lived in ...
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Any historical documented cases of language acquisition? [closed]

I am looking for historical documented cases where some person or group of people learned a (second, non-native)language (= gained ability to communicate) with no prior knowledge of the target ...
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3 votes
2 answers
201 views

What does 'des' mean in ancient Egyptian?

Looking at the pefsu problems of ancient Egyptian mathematical papyri, I am wondering what does the word des mean? It is usually used together with the word jug to form des-jug, but sometimes the ...
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1 vote
0 answers
120 views

Which language did emperors, empresses and other "official people" speak in the Yuan Empire? [closed]

Please, I need real information, not from films, k-dramas and etc. I mean the language of the "official people" like the emperor, empress and etc.
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1 vote
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What do these lines from The Decline of the West, mean? [closed]

the means to identify dead forms is mathematical law, the means whereby to understand living forms is analogy. What does this mean? When I looked it up I got a history textbook and it was talking ...
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4 votes
0 answers
118 views

What languages did Anthony van Dyck speak?

Anthony van Dyck, the celebrated painter, was born and raised in Antwerp in the beginning of the 17th Century. One would assume, then, that his mother tongue was some version of Dutch. At the age of ...
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7 votes
3 answers
998 views

Who are the 'Tiursk tribe' of Central Asia?

I am reading this passage in a book called Overland to China (1900) which on page 66 makes mention of a Tiursk tribe in Central Asia. Online searches didn't provide much details except referencing/...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What wars or other serious crises have been caused by translation?

I'm researching the costs of translation, economic and of other nature. What large crises, such as the New Zealand Wars (due to the inaccurate translation of the Treaty of Waitangi) have been caused ...
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10 votes
1 answer
369 views

Is there any verifiable ancient source for the etymology of βάρβαρος?

In The Shaping of Western Civilization: From Antiquity to the Present, ed. Michael Burger (U of Toronto Press, 2014), we are given the following colorful detail (§2.3, p47): What, according to the ...
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1 vote
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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 ...
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14 votes
2 answers
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Is there convincing evidence that the language of Bulgars (proto-Bulgarians) was not Turkic, but Indo-European?

Wikipedia says that "Bulgar (also Bulghar, Bolgar, Bolghar) is an extinct Oghur Turkic language which was spoken by the Bulgars. " I was not aware of a different hypothesis on this until I ...
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11 votes
3 answers
783 views

MLK used "negro" several times in his "I have a dream"-address. Could white "liberals" at the time also use "negro" as a neutral word for blacks?

According to this transcription of Martin Luther King's I have a dream-address, he used negro 15 times in his speech, as a neutral word for black people. Did/could "leading", documented non-...
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3 votes
1 answer
550 views

What is the oldest quote or poem in known history?

What is the oldest quote, poem, words of wisdom ever written in known history? I'm guessing it's Kemetian or Babylonian. I've read some on the internet that I know from memory but cannot verify them, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
791 views

Were there attempts to rename the French language Prussian order Pour le Mérite, why was it never Germanised?

Were there any attempts to rename the French language but Prussian order Pour le Mèrite, why was it never Germanised? If there were attempts, how did the opponents argue? The Prussian's highest order ...
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2 votes
2 answers
221 views

What is the etymology of the word "Mehrgarh", one of the earliest Neolithic site in South Asia?

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site near the Bolan Pass in Pakistan. I am wondering if the Neolithic site has simply been dubbed "Mehrgarh" or was it the actual name of the Neolithic culture ...
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2 votes
1 answer
523 views

What language(s) were spoken in 11th century Romania?

Curious to know what languages would've been spoken and used in correspondences during this time, specifically in Transylvania.
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2 votes
1 answer
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Was "Street" more common than the abbreviated "St." in pre-1910 American newspapers?

As a hobby I like to research buildings and other structures around where I live, and part of that entails searching old newspaper archives. Generally this is in California. Since I am not looking at ...
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Was there a European country that held a referendum about adopting English in universities?

I vaguely remember that there was a European country (not the UK or Ireland) that held a referendum about adopting English as the primary language of instruction in universities. The referendum failed....
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2 votes
1 answer
376 views

What is the origin of South Indian languages?

I have heard that Malayalam is a more recent language ( 800 years old?) ... DEVELOPED by the assimilation of Tamil with Sanskrit. I know Tamil is an ancient language, and the Telegu -Kannada origin is ...
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2 votes
2 answers
188 views

Were there any important spies in modern history who had to conceal their true nationality (or culture)?

This often comes up in movies, but I can hardly find any real cases, except for the "Illegals Projects" - but that doesn't seem like high-stake espionage, let alone successful. I'm thinking ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What did the term "Parage" mean in middle ages Langued'oc?

In the book "Massacre at Montsegur" Zoé Oldenbourg mentioned the term "Parage" that was used in that time in the area: It was the honour of the Occitan nobilty, so humiliated by these Northern ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What was up with "Alicorn" in the 1920's and 30's

My question is about the applications of the term "alicorn." What I know is that it's a medieval term used for supposed compounds of unicorn horn. Later Peers Anthony used the term for a horned ...
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18 votes
4 answers
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Did average church-goers understand mass in Latin?

Since around the 4th century AD, Latin is the official language of the Catholic Church. As such, most of this period, the official language of the Mass was Latin (there has been exceptions). A key ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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Why is the English name of the country "Russia" not spelled "Rossia" (with the letter o)? [closed]

Once there was Rus (about 9-15 centuries). Then there are different historical moments, different countries. And finally Ukraine, Belorussia, Rossia (17 century) (and maybe more that related to ...
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0 votes
1 answer
153 views

Was it common to address politicians by their first names / nicknames in the past? [closed]

To me, it seems like politicians are increasingly more frequently being called by their first name (Bernie, Hillary, Donald) or they're being reffered to in the name's more familiar form (Jo Swinson, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
408 views

What language is this artists signature written in and what does it say?

This signature is on a print from the 1960s. There are symbols in the art such as a fish (see ring and vest clasp)and a hamsa (possibly) in the outer border.
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0 votes
0 answers
395 views

How would you address a merchant in the High Middle Ages?

If you were to address a powerful and affluent noble with a wide monopoly over trade in the 11th-13th centuries, what would you call them? (Assuming you are of lesser rank to them) Would it be Sir, ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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How and when did the surname "Apibus" become "de Apapis"?

The Maltese surname Apap derives from "De Apapis", and the family crest features bees. Family lore tells that the surname originates from a person who kept bees. In Latin, Apis is bee, and the most ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What are the Ancient Egyptian words for these concepts?

I just want to know what words ancient Egyptians might have used for "country", "nation", "state", "kingdom", and "empire" (especially empire), preferably in their oldest forms. Can anybody help me ...
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2 votes
1 answer
315 views

Are there examples of wrong / inaccurate translations that had a major impact?

Are there examples of wrong or inaccurate translations that had a major impact on the historic course of events (e.g. prevent a conflict from escalate)? And are there examples where the interpreter ...
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4 votes
1 answer
445 views

Where to find a comprehensive list of proto-cuneiform Sumerian glyphs?

I'm looking for representations and meanings of the logographs of the Uruk period (3500–3000 BC), such as those on the Kish tablet. I've only been able to find a few examples, but over 1000 are known. ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Why didn't the Cathars speak a language influenced by the East? [closed]

According to Ancient History Encyclopedia: "Cathar beliefs ultimately derived from the Persian religion of Manichaeism but directly from another earlier religious sect from Bulgaria known as the ...
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10 votes
3 answers
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 ...
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29 votes
1 answer
3k views

Could George I (of Great Britain) speak English?

Web based sources differ wildly in stating how well King George I could speak English. Brittanica says: Since he could not speak English, he communicated with his ministers in French. Wikipedia, ...
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