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Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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1 answer
215 views

What kept the idea of a "German question" or unification in 19th Century Europe?

In 19th century Europe, there was such a thing as a "German question" i.e, how to achieve unification of all lands inhabited by Germans. What puzzles me is that, at that time, each of the ...
18 votes
9 answers
7k 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 ...
41 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
89 views

What are the languages proposed for international use by Max Müller?

In an article entitled 'Il latino quale lingua ausiliare internazionale' ('Latin as an international auxiliary language'), Giuseppe Peano mentions that various people have proposed that a certain ...
5 votes
1 answer
2k 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,...
17 votes
2 answers
853 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
225 views

When did people start to care about right grammar and spelling?

Languages developed over the years to make it easy to communicate and exchange complex ideas. For example the whole point of the phonetic writing system is to be able to write down complex ideas ...
28 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
9 votes
0 answers
184 views

Alexandria by Islam Issa--Did Artistotle know Latin or Hebrew?

I started reading the book Alexandria by Islam Issa, which is a history of the City of Alexandria, Egypt. However, early on, there was one detail that seemed really off, and I wanted to get feedback ...
47 votes
1 answer
17k 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
80 views

What were some of the measures put up by the Austrian Empire to encourage Friulian identity?

In "The White War: Life and Death on the Italian Front 1915-1919" by British historian Mark Thompson, in the "Year Zero" chapter on page 144 (2009 edition) one reads Further north ...
10 votes
1 answer
265 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 ...
5 votes
2 answers
224 views

What is the ancient Egyptian term for 'tomb raiders'?

I couldn't find the answer for this on the internet. I am currently writing a fiction story about mummies and this info is crucial.
3 votes
3 answers
243 views

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 ...
8 votes
4 answers
2k 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 ...
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does it mean: "French was a lingua franca in the Ottoman caliphal court?"

According to the Economist: The Ottoman caliphate: Straddling two worlds Ruling from Istanbul, the caliphs kept polyglot courts, reflecting the multiple religions and races represented there. ...
3 votes
0 answers
146 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 ...
0 votes
4 answers
451 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 ...
4 votes
1 answer
382 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 ...
-1 votes
4 answers
911 views

Was there 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? ...
121 votes
7 answers
22k 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 ...
5 votes
2 answers
3k 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 ...
6 votes
3 answers
5k 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
72 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 ...
3 votes
3 answers
402 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 (...
6 votes
0 answers
440 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
242 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 ...
8 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
20 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Noah Webster ever state why he Americanized spelling?

I am aware that Noah Webster (1758--1843 AD) is responsible for the majority of the differences between British and American spelling (IE: "color" v "colour"). Over time, it seems, in his Speller ...
18 votes
8 answers
4k views

Why was the Greek alphabet not adopted by other languages, given the Greek influence?

Most western languages adopt the Latin alphabet with minor variations. Arabic letters are adopted by quite a few other languages. The same is true for Eastern Europe with Cyrillic letters. Why was the ...
15 votes
3 answers
3k 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 ...
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

What was the official language used across European monarchies in the XII century?

I have been reading about European history in the XII century and I am finding out that several of the modern day languages hadn't yet evolved to what they are now: Langue d'oïl was still being used ...
2 votes
3 answers
866 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.
11 votes
5 answers
10k 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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
287 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 ...
4 votes
2 answers
435 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 ...
6 votes
0 answers
241 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 ...
47 votes
5 answers
13k 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 ...
6 votes
1 answer
844 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. ...
2 votes
0 answers
161 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 ...
5 votes
0 answers
772 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 ...
49 votes
18 answers
13k 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
105 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 ...
5 votes
3 answers
334 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 &...
0 votes
2 answers
222 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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
165 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 ...
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 ...
36 votes
7 answers
21k views

What language(s) were spoken within the Holy Roman Empire?

What language(s) were considered the primary language for the Holy Roman Empire? Were there many different languages spoken due to the many different regions?
7 votes
2 answers
4k views

What languages were common in first century Jerusalem?

The Pentecost just made me wonder what languages were common in first century Jerusalem. The miracle of Pentecost was that the apostles were preaching in many languages, and this would assume that ...
8 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...

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