Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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What gods-related interjections were used by people in polytheistic cultures?

There are plenty of interjections that have nothing to do with deities. But I'm curious about deity interjections. Presumably, people in polytheistic cultures used gods' names in analogous ...
Steve's user avatar
  • 147
3 votes
0 answers
137 views

Are there data/sources on the usage of Swiss German before/after WWII?

Today remarkably across German-speaking countries Switzerland keeps a very high level of usage of dialects other than Standard High German (SHG). Although non SHG-dialects are also commonplace in ...
embedded_dev's user avatar
9 votes
0 answers
188 views

Was silent reading or reading aloud the norm in pre-modern (esp. Tang through Ming eras) China?

Many scholars argue that in ancient Greco-Roman culture, reading aloud was the norm, as seen in examples like Augustine's Confessions, where Augustine sees someone reading silently and sees this as ...
jamesG's user avatar
  • 91
0 votes
4 answers
430 views

Why do some ancient languages become widespread across cultures, while others don't?

At first glance, I don't see any strong interconnections between the spread of languages and the history of conquests. For example, according to the Northern theory, during the Middle Ages, Eastern ...
Ilya Lakhin's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
66 views

What's the first mention of امّان and سومالی in Persian texts?

I am Iranian. As you know the country has been influenced very much by Islam and Arabic language since the conquer of Sassanid Empire by Muslim Arabs. Even the Persian alphabet wasn't prone to the ...
Etack Sxchange's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
343 views

What was the Ancient Egyptian's word for eleventh or twelfth?

I am researching the 12 hours of the ancient Egyptian night, and the spiritual journey through the duat. I have been able to find the ordinal numbers for the first hour through tenth hour online, tpj (...
Walter's user avatar
  • 219
6 votes
0 answers
360 views

Did Seattle prostitutes call themselves "Seamstresses"?

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, "ladies of negotiable affection" are referred to as "Seamstresses", and are part of the "Seamstresses' Guild", despite not ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 609
0 votes
1 answer
230 views

Is the word God (or it's equivalent) always as old as the civilization's earliest written texts? [closed]

I did some research and it seems the word God (or its equivalent) is usually as old as the written text of that civilization. Is this table accurate? Are there any civilizations of written language ...
More Anonymous's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What languages did Karl Marx speak and how well?

Isaiah Berlin in Karl Marx: His Life and Environment comments on Marx efforts to learn Russian: In order to do this he began to learn Russian; at the end of six months he had mastered it sufficiently ...
Roger V.'s user avatar
  • 3,671
4 votes
1 answer
354 views

Were there Old English speaking enclaves within the Danelaw?

I believe the language of the people that settled in England to create the Danelaw was Old East Norse. Do we know if the Danelaw became a homogeneous Old East Norse speaking region, or did it become ...
John Rennie's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
230 views

When did Russian officially replace Old Slavonic?

When was Russian adopted as the official language of Russia? Background: Well into the XVIII-th (or even XIX-th) century Russian co-existed in a state of diglossia with Old Church Slavonic, based on a ...
Roger V.'s user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
395 views

What's the source that Henry IV was the first post-Norman conquest monarch to speak English as their first language?

Okay; the oft-cited fact that "Henry IV was the first English monarch after 1066 whose first language was English". Now, while I have no doubt it was, what I find puzzling about this is that ...
user22453's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
102 views

What is the meaning of the word "vallaque" in the French Wikipedia page on Avignon's history?

The Wikipedia page Histoire d'Avignon, contains a passage refering to the Frankish king of Austrasia Sigebert I. He was seeking access to the sea, so that he forced the conquest of a piece of land ...
cipricus's user avatar
  • 2,264
0 votes
2 answers
216 views

To what extent has ideographic script contributed to the unification of China?

The different languages of Europe are, by Chinese standards, just successive variants of one language. But the phonetic alphabet is so flexible that the same set of letters can spell almost any ...
Sinkingdom's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
418 views

What is "Distributed Survival Theory"?

I'm just going through "History of the Steppes" on Wondrium/Great Courses. The lecturer mentions "Distributed Survival Theory" for explaining language acquisition with nomadic ...
Bratchley's user avatar
  • 151
1 vote
0 answers
197 views

Why did the British people switch from the Celtic language to Old English?

There is a widely held theory that when the Romans left England in the 5th century AD the island was defenceless against Anglo-Saxon invading armies. In the south and east the Britons were defeated in ...
M. Wind's user avatar
  • 127
3 votes
0 answers
159 views

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

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 ...
Fatyanovo2022's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
154 views

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 ...
Brian Z's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
309 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 ...
user558840's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
178 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 ...
Vogon Poet's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
323 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 &...
user2414208's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
178 views

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 ...
WantARevolution's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
895 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 ...
Pim Massink's user avatar
34 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
Arno's user avatar
  • 1,175
28 votes
1 answer
3k views

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 ...
Timothy's user avatar
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39 votes
2 answers
13k 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 ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 447
2 votes
1 answer
198 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 ...
CharliWilde's user avatar
50 votes
3 answers
9k 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 ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 501
2 votes
0 answers
110 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 ...
Gortaleen's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
627 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 ...
tryst with freedom's user avatar
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.
Jan's user avatar
  • 267
15 votes
8 answers
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 ...
Don Al's user avatar
  • 271
4 votes
1 answer
238 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 ...
dejg's user avatar
  • 41
0 votes
1 answer
176 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 ...
Daniil M. Ozernyi's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
225 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 ...
Michael Munta's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
126 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.
Alice's user avatar
  • 19
1 vote
0 answers
149 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 ...
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
167 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 ...
Ricky's user avatar
  • 3,435
7 votes
3 answers
1k 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/...
Samid's user avatar
  • 2,202
-1 votes
1 answer
193 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 ...
Dan Dascalescu's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
460 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 ...
Ben W's user avatar
  • 271
1 vote
0 answers
97 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 ...
Gimelist's user avatar
  • 273
15 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
cipricus's user avatar
  • 2,264
9 votes
3 answers
2k 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-...
d-b's user avatar
  • 1,786
3 votes
1 answer
2k 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, ...
Samid's user avatar
  • 2,202
6 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.9k
2 votes
2 answers
290 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 ...
Reiki Yamya's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
957 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.
Kayla's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes
1 answer
140 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 ...
crasic's user avatar
  • 121
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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