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Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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35 views

How and when did the Tarim River / Basin get its name?

I recently posted a question on Linguistics:SE asking for a proper etymology of the name "Tarim" as in "Tarim Basin", as well as the name's possible connection with Tocharian (Please see the ...
3
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1answer
191 views

Is there any historical evidence of a significant population of middle eastern people in iron age Northern Germany/Southern Scandinavia?

In at least two of John McWhorter's works, he argues that the Germanic language group was heavily affected by a significant group of people speaking a Semitic language. The works are the book "Our ...
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0answers
41 views

How long does trace back the way of writing through pronounciation as seen in the Journals of Peter Pond?

Peter Pond, a great cartographer at his time in the 18th century, was a man who had little knowledge about the grammar that we are currently using. The way he wrote down his thoughts is somewhat ...
28
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1answer
7k views

Why did the Republic of China retract its simplified Chinese characters?

The image below shows part of the list of simplified Chinese characters introduced by the Republic of China Department of Education in 1935. They were retracted in 1936, so China continued to use ...
0
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1answer
116 views

What's the Ancient Egyptian phrase/word for “Royal Road of Life”? And how would it have been spelt?

I have been looking to translate this for a while, but unfortunately I cannot find any Ancient Egyptian "dictionaries" nor do I possess any knowledge of the Ancient Egyptian grammar at all. So, maybe ...
0
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1answer
62 views

Has Matéo Maximoff's book Die Ursitory been translated to English?

I've been unsuccessfully searching for a book called Ursitory by Matéo Maximoff. From what I have gathered so far, it seems to only be available in German (Die Ursitory) and in French (Les Ursitory). ...
50
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4answers
16k views

Why does Ngram show an extreme spike in use of “LOL” in mid 1600s?

In the google "Ngram" search, which allows you to search the usage of words in recent history, I typed in the widely-used internet word "LOL". To my surprise, this came up: As you can see, there was ...
5
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1answer
138 views

Is (or was) there a version of the Maltese Cross with the right arrowhead missing? Does it have a name?

I'm trying to answer a question (link in Spanish) in the Spanish language site about a funny definition a user found in the Royal Spanish Academy's dictionary. It follows: martillo m. Cruz ...
0
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1answer
173 views

Caesar's comments on Celts(?)

Recall reading somewhere a description by Julius Caesar of the Celts(?) as being fast talking, often through gestures and half words. And often saying the opposite of what was intended. Like to find ...
14
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1answer
443 views

Why isn't there a single trace of Germanic influence in Iberian Languages?

In this question, I would like to make a comparison between two settlements that occurred in the Early Middle Ages in Europe, that seem to be very similar, however they had very distinct outcomes ...
4
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0answers
127 views

Was the Apostle the first Peter?

Is there an attested use of the Greek word "petros" (meaning 'stone') as a given name, before it was given to Peter the Apostle? Note: The name Jesus gave to Peter was most likely 'Kepha,' since ...
4
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1answer
251 views

Could Egyptian hieroglyphs accurately record conversational day-to-day discussion?

Whenever I see Hieroglyphs reproduced and read the translation provided it always strikes me that the text appears very stilted and un-natural. Could hieroglyphs be used to transcribe a normal ...
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4answers
4k views

Did foreign language phrase books exist in the ancient world?

I am finding out about the ancient equivalent to modern foreign language phrase books, used in conversations. Such as a medieval Italian-Latin conversational book, or an ancient English-French ...
81
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3answers
19k views

How would a 16-year-old girl from Cleopatra's era curse?

For one of my novels, I need to learn how Egyptian 16 year old teenagers spoke to each other on a daily basis. I did some research online but I have trouble to understand what languages peoples were ...
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1answer
247 views

Why did the GHQ not promote English during the occupation? [closed]

I wonder why GHQ did not force Japanese people to use the English language during the occupation, or at least add English to one of its official languages, much like Hong Kong under occupation by UK. ...
4
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2answers
157 views

Where can I find an explanation of the variations in style of Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I've seen that Egyptian hieroglyphs are not always written or drawn identically. Long time ago I made a trip in Egypt and saw, in the Valley of the Kings, a tomb with hieroglyphs on the walls that ...
9
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2answers
1k views

What's the explanation for the similarities seen between the Rapa Nui script and the Indus Valley Script?

The Rapa Nui and the Indus Valley Civilization are found 20,000km apart, the former on an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean (Easter Island), and latter in modern day Pakistan. As far as we know, ...
10
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1answer
1k views

What epithet would John Quincy Adams use?

In his journal for 1824, John Quincy Adams records an incident where he was informed that a William King was telling people that he [Adams] should be nominated for vice-president under Crawford, one ...
0
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1answer
77 views

The origin of symbols used for transferring information over large distances [closed]

The information about the origin of writing systems is a bit difficult to piece together, to find when the first accounts of "writing used to transfer information over large distances". For example, ...
12
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2answers
3k views

What is this ancient Egyptian material called “maklalu”?

I read this passage in a book, "A coloured linen maklalu-material, for one royal dress for the king. A total of 12 linen garments...” It was a gift from Queen Nefertari of Egypt to the Queen of ...
2
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1answer
219 views

Where does Marsilio Ficino write that all nations worship a God whose name is spelled with four letters?

I have seen quoted in the name of Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), also spelled Marcellus Ficin, that all nations of the world worship a God whose name is spelled with four letters. Does anybody know ...
8
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1answer
279 views

Why are Quebeckers different from Acadians?

These two French-speaking peoples of Canada are quite distinct, both in linguistic as well as historical terms. How did this difference arise? Did they arrive at different times to Canada? Do they ...
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0answers
79 views

How literate were Kamchadal people?

Kamchatka was settled by Russians starting around 1700. I get the impression that by 1800 most people in Kamchatka had mixed heritages. According to UNESCO, Itelmen languages were already extinct. ...
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2answers
317 views

Who is the first person in the 17th century to describe themselves as a “white” person and who invented the term “white race”?

According to the Wikipedia article entitled White people The concept of a unified white race did not achieve universal acceptance in Europe when it first came into use in the 17th century, or ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Why didn't the linguistic split overlap with the religion split in Prussian Silesia?

The Prussian province of Silesia was split in two "halves", the northwest, centered around Breslau (Wrocław), was mostly Protestant, German-speaking, and was akin to other regions of the kingdom of ...
107
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5answers
17k views

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

I was surprised to learn the following about the Japanese and Korean languages: Japanese used a lot of Chinese characters in their language and had no phonetic system, until around the year 800 when ...
9
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2answers
901 views

During the French Revolution, how did the French address non-citizens?

I've read in multiple books and articles that during the French Revolution the address of monsieur / madame (my lord / my lady) was suspended in favor of the more égalité-friendly citoyen / citoyenne (...
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0answers
163 views

Why is the Philippines spelled with 'ph' but Filipino spelled with 'f'? [closed]

This question could be a toss-up between linguistics and history, but considering the answer is almost certainly due to the historical background surrounding the terms, here is the better choice. Why ...
12
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2answers
845 views

To what extent does the dictionary of Samuel Johnson represent English as it was spoken in his day?

My understanding is that Johnson embarked upon his dictionary precisely because he found others useless or archaic, and that his work was very well received within his own time. But I wanted to ask if ...
1
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1answer
143 views

What are the largest numerical units that the median-wealthy person in Western civilization was aware of through the centuries? [closed]

For example, I just searched Shakespeare and saw hundreds of references to "thousand", a dozen or two references to "million", and no occurrences of the word "billion". Update: The Wikipedia article ...
8
votes
2answers
459 views

How many languages did Leibniz speak?

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German polymath. I've found information that says he was a polyglot who wrote primarily in Latin, French and German, but I cannot find any specific info about the other ...
6
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1answer
385 views

Earliest story?

Personal amateur research shows The Epic of Giglamesh to be the earliest work of literature. I am curious if ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs depicted histories, warnings or tales? Are any simple stories ...
9
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2answers
401 views

Why did the father of algebra speak Arabic instead of Persian?

I'm reading about algebra and the man most associated with its creation or popularisation, Muhammad al-Khwarizmi. We know that algebra comes from the Arabic "al-jabr", but what I don't understand is ...
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1answer
316 views

Origin of “It won't be done by next Tuesday”

This may seem ridiculous but I'll give it a shot anyway. Always very interested in history, especially figuring out where sayings came from. Been watching Downton Abbey for probably the hundredth time ...
4
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1answer
171 views

Old audio recordings showing language change

Languages change with time and pronunciation is one of the things that changes. What is interesting about pronunciation is that direct evidence of this change exists only since we invented audio ...
4
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0answers
91 views

What is this griffin-like creature labelling a lunar mansion in the Zubdat al-Tawarikh?

While looking for astronomy-related things I found out about this Turkish history manuscript from 1583 called the Zubdat al-Tawarikh or "History of the World". One of the first things in it is an ...
12
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1answer
356 views

Did Roman Britannia leave any impacts on English?

I was discussing French influence on English language with some other users and while on the topic of if the Latin influence on English language came exclusively from the Normans, it occurred to me ...
3
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2answers
240 views

Why was Ormond Castle in Scotland so called?

There was a castle in Scotland known as Ormond Castle which had existed since at least the beginning of the 13th century. It sat upon Ormond hill in the Black Isle. Why was it called Ormond Castle? ...
4
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1answer
498 views

What does the abbreviation “adhib.” mean in historiography or archival science?

What does the abbreviation adhib. mean in the context of historiography and archival science? Remarks. This question is not about the meaning in medicine. This is easy to look up. Of course, ...
110
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2answers
12k views

How do historians and linguists know how to pronounce the names from non-phonetic scripts?

If we take hieroglyphic writings like the Egyptian one, an Egyptologist knows that this hieroglyph must be interpreted as Nefertiti. Or we can see in the following Sumerian cuneiform script that ...
4
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1answer
244 views

During the Chola dynasty how extensive was the use of Sanskrit in government and by the people?

David Shulman in his book "Tamil" notes: One thing, however, is certain: the Cholas were happy to use Tamil as an official state language, along with Sanskrit; and they, or the poets they ...
4
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1answer
226 views

How was the Ancient Egyptian name 'God is Gracious' written?

According to this article Behind the Name: Ancient Egyptian Names Revealed there exists an Ancient Egyptian name meaning "God is Gracious". What is that name and how is it written in Hieroglyphics? (...
4
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2answers
320 views

What impact did the migration of Germanic tribes have on languages in the rest of Europe?

I am currently looking for information about the migration of the Germanic tribes, and especially it's effects on European languages, or other languages. Google Search provided me information about ...
153
votes
5answers
26k views

When did people decide that all caps means the writer is shouting?

Nowadays, writing in all caps tends to indicate that the writer is shouting. FOR EXAMPLE IF I TYPE LIKE THIS PEOPLE EQUATE THIS TO SHOUTING. My understanding from cursory googling is that letters ...
8
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3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the Scythians?

I am searching for Iranian languages and I encountered this chart shows Scythian as a Northeastern language. On the other hand, my history course indicated that Scythians are a Proto-Turkic tribe. ...
8
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3answers
985 views

Meaning and usage of “Child of State”?

I have recently been reading about the 1688 English Revolution, which put William and Mary on the throne, more specifically about William and Mary's roles in deposing her father. At least one book ...
4
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2answers
288 views

What is the term for “power vacuum” before the concept of vacuum?

Essentially I am wondering, what was the term for a power vacuum (when a position of power is suddenly unoccupied such as a monarch with no heir) before the concept of a vacuum existed? I understand ...
6
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2answers
395 views

Which languages did H.P. Lovecraft understand?

H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) wrote his stories (including the "Cthulhu Mythos") in English, but his Wikipedia page notes that several French authors provided commentary on his stories. It doesn't ...
2
votes
3answers
401 views

Animosity between Mandarin-speaking and Cantonese-speaking Chinese?

The PRC-ROC schism aside, has there historically been (or is there today) any animosity or feelings of cultural or racial superiority between Mandarin-speaking Chinese and Cantonese-speaking Chinese? ...
4
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4answers
159 views

How multilingual would Canaanite citizens have been?

This question concerns the Land of Israel circa 1,500-1,000 BCE. Different sources mention different languages for this region: This land was part of the New Kingdom of Egypt, so presumably Middle ...