Questions tagged [language]

Questions on historical use of languages and their development.

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4
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0answers
805 views

When and how did English become the Lingua Franca? [closed]

Specifically, how did it supplant French as the international language? Even in the height of Pax Britannica, many English upperclassmen still saw French as the more romantic language. How was this ...
4
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0answers
178 views

Sumerian cuneiform dictionary? [closed]

Is there a single, unified place where one can look up cuneiform signs for Sumerian words? Unicode now supports cuneiform, but every source I've found has only transliterations, not actual cuneiform. ...
3
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2answers
800 views

What is the basis for the claims that the word “Israel” means “Exiled for their sins”?

Joseph Davidovits claims that the word "iisii-r-iar", "ysrỉar" or however you want to transcribe it, which appears on the Merneptah Stele, is an Egyptian phrase meaning "those who are exiled for their ...
3
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1answer
385 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 ...
3
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1answer
705 views

How do historians decide who to refer to as 'the allies?'

In many major wars one side has been branded collectively as the allies. In WWI and WWII we refer to the American/British coalition as the allies. I have heard Rome both fighting against the 'allies' ...
3
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1answer
170 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 ...
3
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2answers
592 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization? [closed]

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
3
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1answer
278 views

What is the oldest quote or poem in known history?

What is the oldest quote, poem, words of wisdom ever written in known history? I'm guessing it's Kemetian or Babylonian. I've read some on the internet that I know from memory but cannot verify them, ...
3
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1answer
190 views

Old audio recordings showing language change

Languages change with time and pronunciation is one of the things that changes. What is interesting about pronunciation is that direct evidence of this change exists only since we invented audio ...
3
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1answer
95 views

Is this alphabet from tawantinsuyu or is it a modern invention (from the latter centuries)?

I am asking about tawa. When I studied quichua as language, I was told that quichua was not written. However here, in Ecuador, I found many sources (the main one is a magazine delivered by Amawtay ...
3
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1answer
241 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.
3
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1answer
93 views

Who was the Irish interpreter in Monterey in 1822?

Kirill Khlebnikov was a Russian business agent who made several visits to Alta California. His "Travel Notes" from 1822 describe Khlebnikov's visit to Governor Sola in Monterey, who sent for "the ...
3
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1answer
209 views

Did French ever have any special status in Austria?

Did French ever have any special status in Austria or the Austrian empire, akin to it being the language of royalty in England (and possibly Russia, I'm not sure) (as opposed to it being just another ...
3
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167 views

Which is closer to Old Dutch? [closed]

The Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium and the Netherlands are diverse, but if a general statement can be made, which, as spoken today, is closer to the root of the language?
2
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3answers
5k 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 ...
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1answer
2k views

Is the adamic alphabet the origin of the Greek? [closed]

The adamic alphabet seems to cover the entire Greek alphabet including even more letters and symbols, like sampi, heta (which I thought was just the origin of eta, but apparently not), yot, koppa etc.....
2
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2answers
138 views

What is the etymology of the word “Mehrgarh”, one of the earliest Neolithic site in South Asia?

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site near the Bolan Pass in Pakistan. I am wondering if the Neolithic site has simply been dubbed "Mehrgarh" or was it the actual name of the Neolithic culture ...
2
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1answer
265 views

What language(s) were spoken in 11th century Romania?

Curious to know what languages would've been spoken and used in correspondences during this time, specifically in Transylvania.
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2answers
330 views

What's the Ancient Egyptian word for “benedict”?

I've been searching for, but can't for the life of me find the equivalent in ancient Egyptian to the word "benedict". Tried with "blessed", "glorified", and "exalted" too to no avail. Thanks in ...
2
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3answers
567 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? ...
2
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1answer
108 views

Language Grammar History [closed]

I was trying to search for an article on the Web but cannot find from an authentic source. I want to know when and which language was first formalized and its grammar specified.
2
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2answers
308 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, ...
2
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1answer
291 views

Are there examples of wrong / inaccurate translations that had a major impact?

Are there examples of wrong or inaccurate translations that had a major impact on the historic course of events (e.g. prevent a conflict from escalate)? And are there examples where the interpreter ...
2
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1answer
241 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 ...
2
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1answer
237 views

Technology and status symbols that predate language [closed]

I remember distinctly reading about peoples and cultures - in, I believe, the Caucasus - that used to knap large flakes of flint into spearheads and would use them (instead of actual tools) as status ...
2
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1answer
114 views

Was “Street” more common than the abbreviated “St.” in pre-1910 American newspapers?

As a hobby I like to research buildings and other structures around where I live, and part of that entails searching old newspaper archives. Generally this is in California. Since I am not looking at ...
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1answer
2k views

When and where was the term “nigra” used and what was its relation to “nigger”? [closed]

I was watching two movies (Selma and The Help). Both are set in the USA South, in the 1960s. I noticed the whites sometimes said "nigra" (rather than the more familiar "nigger"). Did people in the ...
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2answers
180 views

Were there any important spies in modern history who had to conceal their true nationality (or culture)?

This often comes up in movies, but I can hardly find any real cases, except for the "Illegals Projects" - but that doesn't seem like high-stake espionage, let alone successful. I'm thinking ...
2
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1answer
280 views

What is the origin of South Indian languages?

I have heard that Malayalam is a more recent language ( 800 years old?) ... DEVELOPED by the assimilation of Tamil with Sanskrit. I know Tamil is an ancient language, and the Telegu -Kannada origin is ...
2
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1answer
183 views

Does written language change language more than oral tradition? [closed]

I'm not sure if this is a right forum, but I didn't find better from SE. I wonder if it is researched how much development of writing systems affects to language compared to languages that are not ...
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0answers
70 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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231 views

When and how (why) did the idea that gender is not biological start [closed]

In my understanding the gender originally was based on the organs, there was cross dressing but it was considered a man dressing as a woman. And latter this changed and gender became something ...
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0answers
532 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?
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240 views

How did French people greet in 1400? [closed]

How did French people greet in 1400? In particular I'm looking for french expressions that a peasant like Saint Joan of Arc could have used to greet a friend.
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0answers
492 views

How did Helen Keller understand English? [closed]

Helen Keller has fascinated me for quite some time. What she achieved in her life time, being both blind and deaf. One question though, how did she begin to comprehend the English language being ...
2
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1answer
3k 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 ...
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2answers
4k views

Which is the oldest language in the World? [closed]

I want to know which are the oldest languages in the world? And within those, which is still in use?
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1answer
702 views

African Clicking Language

During a class a friend of mine brought up an African Clicking language. I don't have a lot of information about this. Which language groups in Africa include clicking, and what is known about the ...
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2answers
710 views

How did the written Polish language survive in eastern Germany during partition (if it survived at all)?

After the partition of poland in the late 18th century, Prussia aquired a large part of Polish territory. Those areas suffered heavy Germanization process through assimilation and suppression of ...
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1answer
233 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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2answers
148 views

Which immigrants became elected officials in an acquired language? [closed]

With some exceptions, candidates up for election are usually natural born citizens that are native speakers of the government's language. With the exception of the first generation of leaders in ...
1
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1answer
290 views

What are the modern names of the nations mentioned in Ystoria Mongalorum?

Giovanni Carpini in his Ystoria Mongalorum lists as factions under the dominion of the Mongol Empire: Nations that have been subjugated: Meniti Colona-Thorati Sassi Thoas Sarthi ...
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1answer
154 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 ...
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1answer
227 views

When did the Hudson Bay get its current name in French?

In French, the Hudson Bay is called "La baie d'Hudson". Apparently it was originally called "mer du Nord" (North Sea) in the 1600's, the according to its french wiki page. Now obviously, Henry Hudson ...
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2answers
491 views

Why is the English name of the country “Russia” not spelled “Rossia” (with the letter o)? [closed]

Russkoje tsarstvo later changed to Rossiyskoye tsarstvo. Why is the English name of the country "Russia" not spelled "Rossia"?
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1answer
141 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 ...
1
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1answer
157 views

What did the term “Parage” mean in middle ages Langued'oc?

In the book "Massacre at Montsegur" Zoé Oldenbourg mentioned the term "Parage" that was used in that time in the area: It was the honour of the Occitan nobilty, so humiliated by these Northern ...
1
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1answer
188 views

In 1700-1900 England, how were 'manners an end in themselves and not merely a means to achieve propriety by conformity'?

What does 1 mean: 'manners were [...] by conformity'? I know little about English history. How does 1 justify or mitigate 2; because to Anglophones in 2016, 1700-1900 English (e.g. Sheridan's opening ...
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0answers
70 views

At what stage are the first two digits of a year's name dropped? [closed]

Today, we mostly refer to years in their full name: 2020 as "twenty twenty", or "two thousand twenty". In the late 1900s, we were mostly using the short form: 1995 as "ninety ...
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0answers
120 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 ...