Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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4
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1answer
50 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
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3answers
420 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
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 ...
96
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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
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1answer
174 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
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3answers
2k 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
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2answers
804 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 ...
43
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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 ...
7
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5answers
4k 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
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1answer
358 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
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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
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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 ...
0
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0answers
167 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 ...
34
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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
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1answer
157 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
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1answer
656 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
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1answer
264 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 ...
9
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1answer
282 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
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1answer
148 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
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1answer
87 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
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1answer
351 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 ...
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0answers
84 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 ...
18
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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
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0answers
60 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
306 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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1answer
204 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
940 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
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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
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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 ...
1
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1answer
191 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
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1answer
75 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). ...
51
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4answers
17k 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
169 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 ...
9
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3answers
752 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 ...
-2
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1answer
457 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 ...
9
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1answer
303 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
649 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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1answer
265 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 ...
20
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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 ...
8
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2answers
1k 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, ...
6
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2answers
527 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 ...
14
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2answers
651 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 ...
2
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3answers
431 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? ...
84
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3answers
20k 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
283 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. ...
9
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2answers
2k 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, ...
4
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2answers
233 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 ...
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
86 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 ...