179 votes

When did people decide that all caps means the writer is shouting?

SOMETIME AFTER 1984 BICAMERAL SCRIPT HAS BEEN AROUND FOR CENTURIES THOUGH THE RULES FOR ITS USE HAVE ONLY SOLIDIFIED IN THE LAST FEW HUNDRED YEARS. WHILE PRINTED MATERIAL WAS ABLE TO USE BOTH UPPER ...
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172 votes
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How do historians and linguists know how to pronounce the names from non-phonetic scripts?

By comparisons with known languages. Let's take the example of Egyptian hieroglyphs. It is well known that the ancient Egyptian script was decoded thanks to the Rosetta Stone, which recorded an ...
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  • 95.8k
159 votes
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When did people decide that all caps means the writer is shouting?

The tradition of all caps denoting shouting arose from typesetting of printed publications. The 6 September 1958 Bookseller: The Organ of the Book Trade says: It [a 16 page list of books] picks out ...
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  • 3,239
130 votes
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How would a 16-year-old girl from Cleopatra's era curse?

Alexandria is sometimes called the New York of the ancient world. That means you might very well use almost any ancient old-world language you like, as the people were incredibly diverse. But the ...
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  • 73.7k
119 votes

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

No, there is no known record of that kind of native linguistic script analysis in pre-modern China, although its quite possible it came up and was rejected, for reasons I'll outline below. The main ...
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  • 109k
112 votes
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Why does Ngram show an extreme spike in use of "LOL" in mid 1600s?

In Ngram viewer, along the bottom you can find the actual books that contain the words. By following those links I came across The Changeling By Thomas Middleton, William Rowley whose text looks like ...
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  • 14.3k
86 votes
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Why are Germans referred to so differently in different languages?

The Wikipedia article on this is quite detailed. In short, Germany was never conquered by the Roman Empire, so several tribes maintained their identity as well as the Germanic language. On top of ...
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  • 2,036
83 votes

What language did Gaius Julius Caesar speak with Cleopatra?

Most likely Greek. This is the only language which we know they definitely had in common, and both were highly proficient in it. High-born Romans learnt Greek and Julius Caesar was no exception: ...
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78 votes
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Why are the German and French languages so different?

Defense of German heritage against Romans The biggest reason for how the lands east of the Rhine retained their German identity (unlike the Gauls of modern day France who lost their Celtic identity) ...
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  • 8,133
73 votes

How do historians and linguists know how to pronounce the names from non-phonetic scripts?

The short answer is that we don't. The pronunciations we use today are our best guess at how the ancients pronounced their words. For your two examples. We know that Sumerian had an immense ...
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  • 76.2k
70 votes
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Which European Languages are not Indo-European?

Overview Since there are a fair amount of them, languages are grouped below by language family: Basque A linguistic isolate native to the Pyrenees mountains between Spain, and France. Source: &...
58 votes

Did China ever consider a phonetic writing system?

Yes, but neither by the Chinese nor only for Chinese. Kublai Khan ordered the Tibetan Sakya trizin Phagpa to create a universal alphabet to be used by the languages of his empire. It's usually known ...
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  • 1,780
52 votes
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Why did English adopt Kamikaze (神風) as a loanword instead of Tokko (特攻) during/after WWII?

It's possible we adopted the term Kamikaze because that's what we heard from the Japanese themselves. The term was apparently used by Tokyo Rose on her broadcasts to the American troops. The book ...
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  • 33.8k
48 votes
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Why did the Romans change Europe's language, but the barbarians didn't?

The short version is "it's complicated!", but I'll try to give a slightly more detailed explanation here. Rome established a single empire with a single language, currency and laws. This doesn't mean ...
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48 votes
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When did "&" stop being taught alongside the alphabet?

Ironically, it seems to coincide with the addition of the very word 'ampersand' to the dictionaries. But the process took a while to complete and a precise date seems to be undeterminable, not in the ...
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  • 73.7k
44 votes
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Why did the Republic of China retract its simplified Chinese characters?

Victor Henry Mair is an American Sinologist and professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania, and this is what he wrote (emphasis mine): An English language report in The Quarterly ...
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  • 6,195
41 votes

Why is AD in Latin and BC is in English?

The third answer at Guardian is perhaps useful: Anno Domini was first used by the church in England in the seventh century and came to be used in secular legal documents at a time when they, like ...
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  • 30.9k
38 votes

Why does Ngram show an extreme spike in use of "LOL" in mid 1600s?

Congusbongus's answer is very good, and points out that you can find the actual books that contribute to the spike: link. I think "higher prevalence of OCR errors, and very low sample population" is a ...
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  • 1,547
37 votes
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Could George I (of Great Britain) speak English?

Yes, George I was indeed able to speak English. Not particularly well, mind you, but also not nearly as incapably as popular history portrays. In fact, he even opened his first Parliament in English: ...
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  • 95.8k
36 votes

What language did Brahe talk with Kepler?

I have struggled to find a contemporary account of the meeting between Brahe and Kepler that mentions the languages used, though with further research I may be able to come up with something. The ...
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  • 6,191
34 votes
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Why does Romanian culture have Latin influences?

Romania was the ancient Roman province of Dacia. Under Roman rule, the province was systematically colonised and developed. It has been theorised that these Roman settlers, intermingling with ...
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  • 95.8k
34 votes

Is the adamic alphabet the origin of the Greek?

That particular website, well ... its not very credible. Its part of Wikia, a site designed for Science Fiction/Fantasy fans to create their own wikis. In other words, things don't get deleted/removed/...
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  • 109k
34 votes
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Has there ever been a truly bilingual country prior to the contemporary period?

Depending on the desired timeframe, that is: how long such a state should have been in existence, or region being in such a status, this might get to a very long list. From Hellenistic times onward, ...
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  • 73.7k
32 votes
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Why did English become Lingua Franca of the modern world?

I don't think there's much truth in this claim. Although the US does speak English, the spread of the English language is because British empire was the most successful amongst colonial empires. ...
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  • 3,013
32 votes

Did foreign language phrase books exist in the ancient world?

Before the development of the movable type printing press there was no such thing as "publication for the mass market". This meant that books were much rarer, and more expensive, than we are today ...
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31 votes
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How and when was Portugal created?

I mean if the people felt they were Portuguese how could they accept kings with Asturian origins? Because they didn't feel they were "Portuguese" until later on. Firstly, you are taking the modern ...
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  • 12.1k
31 votes

What's the explanation for the similarities seen between the Rapa Nui script and the Indus Valley Script?

The supposed relationship between rongorongo (the Rapa Nui script) and the Indus Valley script was proposed in a 1932 article by the Hungarian engineer Vilmos Hevesy (Guillaume de Hevesy). I'm not ...
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  • 76.2k
31 votes
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Why isn't there a single trace of Germanic influence in Iberian Languages?

(Note that there are definitively many traces of Germanic influence on Spanish/Portuguese. For example, as @AlbertYago's pointed out, the Iberian vocabulary contains several Germanic imports; ...
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  • 95.8k
30 votes
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When did F become S in typeography, and why?

There's a typographical distinction between an actual f and the ſ you're referring to in the text. See for instance the difference between 'magiſtrats' and 'behalf' in the second paragraph. The 'ſ' ...
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30 votes

How likely is it that any non-Celtic language was spoken in the British Isles when the Romans invaded?

The answer appears to be "We don't know." We're sure that there were spoken languages in the British Isles before the arrival of the Celtic languages, because the archaeology tells us that ...
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