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Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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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 ...
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0answers
49 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 ...
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1answer
222 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
42 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
862 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 ...
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7answers
5k 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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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 ...
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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). ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
644 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 ...
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1answer
319 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 ...
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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 ...
14
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1answer
444 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
944 views

How much Ancient Egyptian survived into modern Coptic & Egyptian Arabic?

The Egyptian spoken language has evolved dramatically due to influences from the many foreign powers who ruled Egypt over the ages. Coptic is an Egyptian language with strong influences from Greek, ...
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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 ...
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2answers
618 views

Are there any existing foreign language teaching texts from the Ancient Near East?

The various cultures of the Ancient Near East spoke a wide array of languages and we know that there was plenty of communication between cultures. We even have a language like Akkadian that served as ...
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3answers
403 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? ...
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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. ...
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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, ...
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2answers
161 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 ...
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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, ...
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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 ...
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1answer
1k views

What is a mezrag-holder?

I stumbled upon this word in one of my anthropology readings. Here's the excerpt. The robbers were from a tribe which had not yet submitted to French authority and were in open rebellion against it,...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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2answers
402 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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3answers
6k views

Why did English adopt Kamikaze (神風) as a loanword instead of Tokko (特攻) during/after WWII?

Kamikaze (you know, the 'crash plane into boat' thing) is, for Japanese learners like myself, initially a very confusing word. In Japanese it's 神風, 神 meaning god, gods, divinity, etc. And 風 means wind,...
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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. ...
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 ...
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2answers
213 views

Did ancient peoples apply starch to clothing?

Source: See p 6 of 10 of the PDFs, first leftward para. Beware that p 6 of the PDF is labelled as p 18 on the document itself. The English name of starch, as well as its equivalent in German, ...
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2answers
321 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 ...
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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 ...
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6answers
19k views

Why are the German and French languages so different?

My understanding (which could be wrong) is the following: During and before the period of the fall of western Rome (roughly 400 AD), the Franks and the Alemanni were tribal people who moved around a ...
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2answers
4k views

What was the ancient Egyptian word for “soldier”?

I can't find it anywhere on the Internet, and I was hoping someone here might know.
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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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1answer
4k views

Why did Meiji consider switching from Japanese to English?

During the Meiji restoration, the Emperor sought to switch Japan's national language from Japanese to English. Why was that? Why, ultimately, was it unsuccessful? The Role of English and Other ...
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4answers
371 views

Did the passage from Latin to English, in England, help science flourish?

On a YouTube video about the origins of English, they said that replacing Latin with English in science was beneficial to the field; scientists were thus able to easily discuss and understand the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
847 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 ...
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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 ...