Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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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
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8 votes
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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
6 votes
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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
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6 votes
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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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6 votes
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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. ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
568 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 ...
kingledion's user avatar
5 votes
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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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5 votes
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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
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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
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5 votes
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166 views

What is this griffin-like creature labelling a lunar mansion in the Zubdat al-Tawarikh?

While looking for astronomy-related things I found out about this Turkish history manuscript from 1583 called the Zubdat al-Tawarikh or "History of the World". One of the first things in it is an ...
Takumi's user avatar
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3 votes
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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
3 votes
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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
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
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2 votes
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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
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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
2 votes
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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
2 votes
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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 ...
mooncatcher's user avatar
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2 votes
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559 views

What was the stand of K Kamaraj about anti-Hindi agitation of 1965?

What was the stand of K Kamaraj in anti Hindi agitation in 1965? What were his actions to stop the people from riot? And whether the leaders from Congress in Tamilnadu supported the Hindi imposition?
Arun S's user avatar
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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
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1 vote
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185 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 ...
Charlie's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
145 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 ...
Antarctica07's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
660 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, ...
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