Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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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 ...
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4answers
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The practice of translating foreign monarch's or noble's name

In history texts, past foreign monarchs are normally referred to by the English version of their name, e.g. Francis I (not François), Charles V (not Carlos, Karel, or Karl), Phillip II (not Felipe). ...
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804 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?
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995 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 ...
12
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1answer
691 views

Did Roman Britannia leave any impacts on English?

I was discussing French influence on English language with some other users and while on the topic of if the Latin influence on English language came exclusively from the Normans, it occurred to me ...
12
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1answer
371 views

Language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages

I would like to know which was the spoken and literary language in German cloisters during the High Middle Ages. Is it possible to differentiate between social groups in the cloister (monks, laymen, ...
11
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1answer
667 views

“The signal on the Zibby is dead” - what is the meaning of “Zibby”?

I am line editing a book about World War II and the Battle of the Coral Sea. The action is taking place in the front and rear cockpits of a Devastator torpedo-bomber aircraft. The pilot and gunner ...
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1answer
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When did Ireland become majority English-speaking

It seems to me it was around the time of the Famine of the 1840s, given that it was particularly deadly to poorer, more rural Gaelic-speaking areas. But the best I can find are vague statements like "...
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1answer
400 views

What is the origin of currency signs being placed before the numerical value?

For most units, they symbol/abbreviation is placed after the number: 200 m, 75° F, 60 mph, 100 watts, etc. When stating values of money, such as $500, the dollar sign is placed before the number. ...
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Languages spoken by Josephus?

What languages did Josephus speak? He lived in the land of Israel during the first century CE. He wrote in Greek (so he obviously knew that), but did he know Hebrew, Aramaic, or Latin?
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4answers
598 views

Why did Latin take root so deeply in Italy, Gaul, and the Iberian Peninsula, but not Greece or beyond?

I was just reflecting on the fact that Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French all evolved from Latin, the language spread across that area by the Roman Empire 2000 years ago. (Romanian too, I ...
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6answers
799 views

Which were the continent-wide common languages in human history?

My question on rpg.stackexchange.com seems to have reached a point where a "history-person" would be quite suitable to answer it. So let me rephrase it, so as to be at least marginally suitable for ...
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711 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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Was there a European country that held a referendum about adopting English in universities?

I vaguely remember that there was a European country (not the UK or Ireland) that held a referendum about adopting English as the primary language of instruction in universities. The referendum failed....
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3answers
482 views

MLK used “negro” several times in his “I have a dream”-address. Could white “liberals” at the time also use “negro” as a neutral word for blacks?

According to this transcription of Martin Luther King's I have a dream-address, he used negro 15 times in his speech, as a neutral word for black people. Did/could "leading", documented non-...
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1answer
283 views

Is there any verifiable ancient source for the etymology of βάρβαρος?

In The Shaping of Western Civilization: From Antiquity to the Present, ed. Michael Burger (U of Toronto Press, 2014), we are given the following colorful detail (§2.3, p47): What, according to the ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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Where and how did scientists of the 18th and 19th century learn foreign languages?

I'm always amazed by the the apparent amount of foreign languages that scientists in the 18th and 19th centuries seem to have possessed. With the end of Latin as the main scholarly language, ...
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1answer
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Which of the Nuremberg defendants spoke English, French, or Russian?

At the first Nuremberg trial, twenty-one defendants were tried in person: Karl Dönitz, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Hans Fritzsche, Walther Funk, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Alfred Jodl, Ernst ...
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What was the standard spoken language (dialect) in the Three Kingdoms period?

Mandarin is the standard spoken language (dialect) in today's China, meaning distinct regions may have their own dialect, but they can all use Mandarin to communicate with each other. Since all ...
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1answer
263 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 ...
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1answer
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Could any Habsburg kings of Hungary speak Hungarian?

From 1526 to 1918, Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs. Could any of the Habsburg kings speak Hungarian, and if so, to what degree? I know that Sissi, the consort of Franz Joseph I, was particularly ...
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445 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 ...
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3answers
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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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929 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 ...
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1answer
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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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2answers
2k 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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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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3answers
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Meaning and usage of “Child of State”?

I have recently been reading about the 1688 English Revolution, which put William and Mary on the throne, more specifically about William and Mary's roles in deposing her father. At least one book ...
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3answers
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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
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Why is German spoken in Upper Valais?

The Swiss region of Upper Valais is a German speaking region which is physically isolated from all other German speaking regions. The dialect spoken there is so different from other Swiss-German ...
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6answers
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What does the inscription on this sword mean?

The British Library has a 13th century sword with unknown inscription. They recently started a call to arms to translate the inscription. The inscription reads: NDXOXCHWDRGHDXORVI Its meaning is ...
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1answer
234 views

What is the history of the use of word dividers in Greek?

In my understanding, Ancient Greek was usually written with a vertical line or three vertical dots separating words. This was phased out in favor of scriptio continua (continuous script) and ...
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1answer
344 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 ...
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1answer
538 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 ...
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3answers
678 views

What language was the Charter of Liberties written in?

While researching my answer for the What was the official language used across European monarchies in the XII century? question I came upon the Charter of Liberties, or Coronation Charter, issued by ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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1answer
716 views

In a Nazi concentration, labor, or death camp, what was a “'sale' Appel”?

I have listened to 100+ hours of testimonies by Holocaust survivors. Those who were in concentration, labor, or death camps invariably described the brutal roll calls known in German as Appels. ...
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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 ...
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952 views

What language does this look like?

I was hoping someone here could help tell me what language this is? The hint for this is Mary Queen of Scots, but I have no background in historical languages, and was hoping maybe someone here does.
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419 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
710 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. ...
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593 views

How long did Latin survive in Bavaria?

After my question What happened north of the Alps after the romans "left"?, I read through the sources given by the comments and answers. One paragraph in this post was especially interesting to me: ...
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882 views

When did English become a major subject in Japanese schools?

I used to think older Japanese people wouldn't have studied English at school, and recently came across someone who thought likewise (link available on request). A middle-aged Japanese person told me ...
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1answer
577 views

What language did Petlura speak casually?

In Bulgakov's novel "The White Guard" one of the characters, Turbin alleges that Simon Petlura does not speak Ukrainian language himself despite the measures he took to promote it. Are there any ...
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1answer
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What examples are of French and Arab cultural integration?

In the last centuries there were very close tights between the French Empire and its colonies in the Maghreb before and the immigrants and citizens of France after the decolonisation. What are the ...
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Why did the the East-Pakistanis oppose Urdu as their national language while Indians accepted Hindi as theirs? [closed]

In 1947, Both India and Pakistan were given independence from Britain. India was able to establish Hindi as its national language with minimal problems. Pakistan on the other hand, was created with ...
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2answers
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Did any Native Americans adopt a script from Europe (before being assimilated)?

As far as I know, no Native Americans developed their own written language. (Correct me if I'm wrong. There may have been some numeral systems, but that's all I'm aware of.) So now I'm wondering if ...
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Why didn't the Greek language survive in Egypt?

During antiquity, there were multiple Greek colonies in today's Egypt. Later Alexander the Great conquered these territories and then the Ptolemaic Kingdom was established. Some of today's Egypt was ...
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912 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 ...