Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
9
votes
3answers
841 views

In the “Immigrationist theory” of Romanians (Vlachs), how did they became the vast majority in Transylvania?

The origins of Romanians is, for me, one of history's more interesting problems and I mostly agree with the "Immigrationist theory". The great mystery for me is how could they become the majority in ...
1
vote
1answer
119 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
401 views

Why is the English name of the country “Russia” not spelled “Rossia” (with the letter o)? [closed]

Russkoje tsarstvo later changed to Rossiyskoye tsarstvo. Why is the English name of the country "Russia" not spelled "Rossia"?
0
votes
1answer
134 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, ...
12
votes
2answers
756 views

In what language was the first Zionist congress in basel in 1897 held?

In what language was the first Zionist congress in Basel held? Was it Yiddish, Hebrew, German, English? Where there translators?
3
votes
1answer
202 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
votes
0answers
109 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, ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How would one refer to/address a Shogun?

In the Bakumatsu era, how would one refer to a shogun (when talking about him with someone else) or address him directly if talking to him? Is it just name + -sama suffix? I am interest in the answer ...
1
vote
0answers
94 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 ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

Why did Latin disappear so completely in Britain after the Romans left?

My impression, wholly prone to error, is that despite centuries of Roman occupation, after the Anglo-Saxon invasions, Latin virtually became a dead language in Britain. Other parts of the Roman ...
0
votes
1answer
143 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 ...
45
votes
14answers
8k views

Are there confirmed cases where a country changed its language without being conquered?

I thought about this question and wondered: Are there any known cases where a country switched to a different language other than because of being conquered? If some country ever did this I would be ...
2
votes
1answer
245 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
142 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. ...
33
votes
2answers
5k views

Why did Meiji government consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Meiji govenment sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Who and why advocated that? Ultimately, why was it unsuccessful? Source: ...
7
votes
0answers
121 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. ...
0
votes
1answer
228 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
792 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
624 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 warlord 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 ...
30
votes
1answer
2k 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, ...
6
votes
3answers
548 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
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
101
votes
3answers
14k views

Why are Germans referred to so differently in different languages?

I was inspired by the other question "Why are the German and French languages so different?". But while, for me, the answer was obvious (the Romans did not conquer most parts of today's Germany and so ...
2
votes
1answer
383 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

How many languages did Leibniz speak?

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German polymath. I've found information that say he was a polyglot who wrote primarily in Latin, French and German, but I cannot find any specific info about the other ...
44
votes
1answer
11k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
5k views

How did it happen that countries and cities got different names in different languages?

I wonder why a single city's (or country's) name is different in various languages. To me, city and country names are somewhat similar to a person's given name, and it doesn't seem right to call ...
9
votes
1answer
395 views

Were does Tifinagh come from?

Because all of my knowledge of Tifinagh came from the Wikipedia article, I was quite puzzled to read this blog. For those of you that just don't bother checking, the author describes the different ...
27
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
47
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
35
votes
1answer
8k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
164 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
742 views

Had the French in Paris started to learn German before their liberation in 1944?

One of Donald Trump's recent tweets states: Emmanuel Macron suggests building its own army to protect Europe against the U.S., China and Russia. But it was Germany in World Wars One & Two - How ...
5
votes
1answer
269 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
314 views

What is the earliest example of the usage of 'Nazis' to refer clearly and exclusively to the National-Socialists?

The term 'Nazi' is now commonly explained as being an abbreviation of 'National-Socialist'. That was not always the case. The use of the term Nazi is a well-established convention in English. It ...
7
votes
1answer
164 views

How was library classification done in English-speaking libraries prior to the 19th century?

I was reading about major library classification systems. The major one in English-speaking lands seems to be the Dewey Decimal Classification system, which was invented in 1876. Several other ...
5
votes
1answer
99 views

What title did the merchants permitted to deal with Canton's 13 Factories carry?

What I know: During the period leading up to the Opium Wars, trade into China from Europe was locked down to 13 buildings in Canton known as the 13 factories. European merchants were only permitted to ...
3
votes
1answer
411 views

What was the population of late Pre-Islamic Arabia and the population of Arabic speakers before Islam?

The Arab tribes were spread out widely, and the land of Arabia was not as viable to live on as the Fertile Crescent, so I would expect the population to be lower. But, how much in an estimated range ...
1
vote
0answers
85 views

How many total speakers of German were there in pre-WWI USA?

The 1910 US Census enumerates some 2.7 million foreign-born speakers of German in the United States then. That number must be an understatement because there were many communities of heritage German ...
19
votes
5answers
6k views

How and when was Portugal created?

We all know that the Iberian Peninsula is separated between two major countries Spain and Portugal. When and how was the country now known as Portugal formed? Portuguese is very similar to the ...
2
votes
0answers
61 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
votes
1answer
340 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
307 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
votes
1answer
1k views

Is the modern German language the same as it was in Roman times? [closed]

Was the German language influenced by any other languages? How did the German language get to what we hear today? I know that the letters were influenced by Latin, but did the language change or just ...
31
votes
7answers
6k views

Why does Romanian culture have Latin influences?

Romania is located between Bulgaria, Serbia on one side and Ukraine/many Slavic countries on the other. Romanian is however a Romance (Latin) language, and not Slavic. They don't use the Cyrillic ...
28
votes
2answers
3k views

When did the Hebrews stop speaking Hebrew and start speaking Aramaic?

The Torah was written Hebrew, and most of the old testament was written in Hebrew, although parts of Daniel were written in Aramaic. By the time of the 1st century, Aramaic was the common language for ...
1
vote
1answer
202 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
87 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). ...

1 2 3 4 5