Will synthetic language speakers realize how inconvenient their mother tongues are after studying some analytic language?

Sure, I did. But I’m a linguist, so I don’t count. 🙂

Not that agglutinative/flexional is the same thing as analytic/synthetic, but Esperanto did spoil me for language learning in my teens, and I have read a Turkish grammar just for aesthetic enjoyment. And the most joy in the historical grammar of Greek is tracing the inflections to their agglutinative origins. For that matter, on the synthetic side, I’ve gotten my jollies from reading Tok Pisin and Mandarin grammars too. 

Of course, “inconvenient” isn’t the right answer, as other respondents have said. They are just different ways of expressing the same meaning, and they certainly aren’t intractable for native speakers to learn.

And synthetic language speakers shouldn’t get too envious. If you read the fine print of those Mandarin and even Tok Pisin grammars, you find that the semantics of aspect and mood particles gets very messy very quickly.

Is the following Greek letter a calligraphic phi?

My site on Greek and Unicode is currently offline, but this is what I had to say about it: http://photius.tlg.uci.edu/~opou… . (I refer to the “calligraphic” phi as the mathematical variant:

Until Unicode 3.0, the normal character for phi was the closed form, and the mathematical variant was the open. The reference glyphs were swapped in Unicode 3.0, as it was realised that the normal mathematical phi is the closed form, and Greek text uses the open form exclusively, at least in Greece. (The Loeb Classical Library amongst others uses the closed phi, so it is fair to say that Classicists have a greater tolerance for the closed form.) Fonts created before the release of Unicode 3.0 (September 1999) are likely to have the old default form for phi.

Is the bible just a history book or is there more to it than that?

Are they all not just history books concluding to have some moral message to help us live our lives? Because if this is true, then life should be put first before religions. And nobody should take a life of a preacher or one dedicated in a path to understand religion. It’s secondary is it not?

Other respondents are responding to the OP’s use of “history” vs “story” (mythology). But OP’s question is, if the Bible is not divine, then one’s morality cannot derive from religion, but affirmation of life.

It’ll interest OP to know that there was a prominent theologian who came to pretty much that conclusion. This theologian pioneered Historical Jesus research, and came to the conclusion that the actual Jesus was all about the end of the world—and since the world has not ended, that Christianity was founded on a lie. (Subsequent Historical Jesus researchers have concluded that the end-of-the-world guy was John the Baptist, not Jesus, but that’s not the point here.)

So. You are a big time theologian, and you have just proven to yourself in your forties that everything you believed in is a lie. What do you do?

You switch jobs, study medicine, and go to Africa to heal the sick. “Life should be put first.” In fact, your personal philosophy Reverence for Life.

Ok, that’s one take on it, and I see that it’s not Wikipedia’s take on Albert Schweitzer: he articulated quite Christian motives for dropping theology and taking up medicine (and he didn’t really drop theology for that matter). But clearly he did not stay an orthodox Christian, and he had a crisis of faith after confronting the issue of literal truth in the New Testament.

Why do the same letters in English have radically different pronunciations in different words?

There are, not so much rules, but tendencies for why letters are pronounced so crazy-different in different dialects of English, and so differently from Early Middle English.

Unfortunately you need to go through a lot of historical phonology to make sense of it. Fortunately Wikipedia has a decent summary of both the historical phonology, and of subsequent changes. Unfortunately you need a linguistic background for the changes to make sense to you.

Phonological history of English

Basically start by assuming that the spelling used to make sense, and then move forward from Middle English for each of the sound changes. (The changes from Old English to Middle English aren’t as critical to making sense of the spelling, since spelling was reset from scratch after the Norman invasion.)

The craziness of vowels around l’s and r’s, in particular, is something very characteristic of English—and it makes sense once you realise that, compared to other European languages, l and r are pronounced quite back in the throat (retroflex and velarised)—which makes adjacent vowels be centralised.

Like I said, you need a linguistic background for the changes to make sense to you…

What impact did Crete have on Ancient Greece?

As Toby Williams said, significant in pre-Classical Greece—after all, the Mycenaeans got their writing system from the Minoans, and there are echoes of the old Cretan dominance in the myths around Crete.

In Classical times, not much at all. A couple of philosophers (including Epimenides and his paradox), but Crete was a backwater. That continued even into Byzantine times: Andrew of Crete  is all I can think of for cultural impact on Byzantium. It was only under the Venetians that Crete had a significant cultural impact on the Greek-speaking world (including art as well as literature).

How often do you have to write formally and with proper grammar at your current job?

I’ve switched careers from being a humanities academic to being a business analyst. Currently I’m more a data analyst with a sideline in IT architecture and policy. The clarification is important, because business analysts are more human-facing than data analysts.

I switched from natively writing in Dickensian paragraphs, to natively writing in dot points. My audience would much rather read something created in Powerpoint, than something created in Word. I learned that there was not that much point correcting simple spelling mistakes from colleagues (though that’s not as much of an issue in my current position!) I relearned something I had learned before linguistics, when I was interning as an engineer: I am writing for people who would rather not be reading what I am writing, so I don’t get points for eloquence or cleverness—just concision.

I still happen to write formally, because of my training (although I use less semicolons than I used to); but I notice that few of my colleagues or their bosses bother. I have one boss who is a stickler for formal (and impersonal) tone, but I strongly suspect this is a generational thing. In fact, I’ve been in the middle of an edit war between bosses on formal tone of a document. I like the subjunctive, but have found that it outright confuses colleagues; then again, the subjunctive is now mostly an American affectation in the Commonwealth.

All that said, precision is valued in my job, so “proper grammar” is appreciated.

Is there a software that converts properly written English into a poor one?

There have been toy translators into stereotypical dialects of English for decades. Fun Translations  has a representative sample.

Why is there the collective noun “an observance” for hermits when they live alone?

Philip Newton gives two thirds of the answer. The remaining third is, why choose the word “observance” in particular.

The reason is given in the 1702 dictionary that the collective noun was fished out of, as cited here: Unkindness of Ravens. You get a bunch of hermits hanging out together, because they all belong to the same monastic order; that is to say, they observe the same monastic rule.

Why does the word ‘correlation’ have two r’s?

The Latin prefix for “with” was con-, but like other Latin prefixes, its final consonant changed to match the following consonant. So com-pare, col-late, cor-rupt. The prefix in- does the same: im-port, il-literate, ir-relevant.

Now, another variant of con- was co-, before h and vowels: co-herent, co-agulate. English generalised this version of the prefix into a new version of the prefix, which did not care what letter followed it (so long as you use a hyphen). So if the notion of co-dependency had been invented 200 years ago, it would have been condependency, because the co- prefix had not become generic yet.

So it’s spelled cor-related rather than co-related, simply because it is an older word.