Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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37
votes
1answer
10k views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

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 ...
50
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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 ...
2
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0answers
99 views

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 ...
3
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2answers
335 views

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 ...
25
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2answers
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.
15
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7answers
4k views

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 ...
4
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1answer
218 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
162 views

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 ...
3
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2answers
194 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 ...
1
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0answers
113 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.
1
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0answers
141 views

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 ...
4
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0answers
116 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 ...
7
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3answers
997 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/...
-1
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1answer
168 views

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 ...
10
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1answer
346 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 ...
1
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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 ...
14
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2answers
2k views

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 ...
11
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3answers
610 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-...
3
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1answer
395 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, ...
5
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1answer
698 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 ...
2
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2answers
191 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 ...
2
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1answer
424 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.
2
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1answer
127 views

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 ...
10
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2answers
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....
2
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1answer
339 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 ...
2
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2answers
185 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 ...
1
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1answer
178 views

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 ...
1
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1answer
150 views

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 ...
18
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4answers
7k views

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 ...
0
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2answers
697 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
150 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, ...
3
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1answer
344 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.
0
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0answers
325 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, ...
1
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0answers
143 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
192 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
306 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
363 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. ...
0
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1answer
302 views

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 ...
10
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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 ...
29
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1answer
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, ...
7
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3answers
1k views

Why was "Caesar" borrowed for the imperial title in German rather than "Augustus"?

After Caesar (which simply happened to be his family name) Octavius took the title Augustus which means better, more, augmented. And most Roman emperors and strong men took the title Augustus ...
24
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7answers
5k views

Has there ever been a truly bilingual country prior to the contemporary period?

What I mean by this is: has there ever been a country where the bulk of the population spoke two different languages as a matter of course? This question is somewhat inspired by this video in which ...
2
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1answer
4k views

What is/was the correct pronunciation of Byzantine? [closed]

When I first came across the Byzantine Empire in books I assumed that it was pronounced as it was spelled (i.e. bih-zan-tin or baɪ zən tɪn in IPA). However I have since heard many people, including ...
46
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1answer
13k views

When did "&" stop being taught alongside the alphabet?

I've recently discovered that "&" was taught alongside the alphabet letters. While not being considered a letter per se, many students must have seen '&' as effectively the 27th letter of the ...
27
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5answers
9k views

Which languages would be most useful in Europe at the end of the 19th century?

If I were a tourist planning to visit all the major cities in Europe, which languages would be most beneficial for me to know? Nowadays, the answer would be straightforward, as many people in Europe ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Is there any idea of why Cao Cao's parents would give him a nearly identical name to the family name?

I've been doing a lot of reading up about the Three Kingdoms era of China, and Cao Cao stuck out to me as an interesting name. After some research I found that the words in Chinese are different, and ...
46
votes
5answers
11k views

Which European Languages are not Indo-European?

I saw this question asked on Twitter today. At first blush it seemed like an easy reference question, but I can't find any place that actually has this spelled out in one place. I ended up having to ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Were there cases where an ethnic newspaper had the highest circulation in a country?

Were there cases where a locally-published newspaper catering to, and read by an ethnic minority group had a circulation exceeding that of any other newspaper in a country? Examples: Fictional ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

When did F become S in typeography, and why?

I'm sure you've all noticed documents in English from the 1700's often have 'F' where, if written now, there would be an 'S'. You can see what I'm talking about a few times in this example, like at ...

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