Zis is Kvora! Ve don’t make jokes about anonymität here!

To any popular or Top Writers: can you anonymously answer this question in such a way that we can guess who you are?

It was a very entertaining meta-thread, of people posting in their own style, and having people guess who they are. When people guessed correctly, people removed their anonymity. Or they didn’t, so others could keep guessing.

Someone said in comments, “but this question invites people to guess the identity of anonymous posters, and that isn’t allowed under Quora rules.”

“Oh come on, you stick in the mud,” I thought. “Surely Quora Moderation is not going to be so robotic as to completely miss the point of the joke.”

My fans and followers and fellows. If I ever say again “Surely Quora Moderation is not going to be so robotic…”, do me a favour.

Kick me before I even finish that sentence.

EDIT: Mod-proof variant now up as a blog: Guess The Quoran

Why does Quora send me a notification that my question may need editing when I’m not the one who asked the question?

Originally Answered:

Why does Quora send me a note that: “The question needs to be Improved”, when I only answered the question?

Quora isn’t trying to work out what is wrong with the question. Its bots have picked up something is wrong (whether or not something is wrong, because Quora’s bots are not as smart as Quora assumes they are). But imagine if Quora trusted its bots to reword your question!

The horror… The horror…

So instead, Quora is bouncing the question for rewording back to people who it thinks might plausibly understand, better than its lobotomised bots do, what the question actually means.

Candidate #1: the question asker.

Candidate #2: anyone who answered the question. If you answered the question, then there is a better than even chance that you understood what the question meant.

Why do the comments on some of my answers disappear a few minutes after posted yet stay in my notifications?

At a guess: they’ve been deleted by the comment posters. The notification isn’t updated to reflect that the comment has been deleted.

What does my constructed language sound like?

I commend you most heartily, despite the fact that my review will be less thorough than Clarissa Lohr’s.

I wasted the first 5 sec thinking, Z-Kat’s Saff London vowels are showing. But that went away very quickly.

I wasted the first 30 sec, despite myself, distracted by working out the European provenance of it. That went away too.

I don’t care how many lateral fricatives it has, it ain’t Celtic. And the passion of the delivery was awesome.

I ultimately settled back at something like, “this sounds like Icelandic, with balls”.

Now to read the spoilers…

What do you like about Athens, Greece?


Yes, Athens is crowded and outsize and horrid and smoggy. But.

The Sacred Rock:

The back streets of Plaka. A reminder that once, this used to be a chic 19th century town:

… with a lot of 21st century Greeks jammed in:

The peekaboo of antiquities against the cityspace. Like the Roman Forum:

The view from the Hotel Grande Bretagne rooftop bar:

And the bookstores that still survive. The remaining repositories of Greek lore.

What are the reasons why Apollo finally befriends Hermes?

People of Quora.

Before you read this my answer, read Amy Louisa’s answer.

And before you upvote my answer, upvote Amy Louisa’s answer.

It would be a bad thing if you upvote the linguist over the classicist. It would be an even worse thing if you upvoted the writing of a Greek screenwriter over the Homeric Hymns.

Remember: Vote 1 Amy Dakin.

Amy Dakin gave the right answer, as told in the Homeric Hymns.

I will give the answer as retold by Nikos Tsiforos. His Greek Mythology, which I’ve quoted here before, was a humorous serialised retelling of all of Greek Mythology in the ’60s (published posthumously in 1971). It’s not serious scholarship (although he injects half-digested nuggets of history of religion). Its humour is very much of its time, and Greece in the 1960s is not the Anglosphere of the 2010s. (You’ll note the resentment towards the Sixth Fleet towards the end.)

Translation mine.

Vote 1 Amy Dakin.

The very first thing Hermes did, when he was still a babe in the cradle, was steal. He’d barely opened his eyes, the first day the rascal was born: he got up and escaped his cradle. He went out, looked around, saw some oxen way off on the mountains of Pieria, and was much pleased.

“I’m just in the mood for some BBQ.”

So he decided he’d steal himself some oxen. But because it was daytime, he couldn’t do it: he’d be seen. So he sat and waited for sundown. And as he waited, a turtle went past him.

The bastard grabs the turtle, kills it, takes off its shell, gets some cane, chops it into seven strips of different lengths, fixed them onto the shell, found an ox hide as well, and made himself a lovely lyre.

As soon as he made the lyre, he started playing. He made up a song that went something like “Daddy shtupped Mommy, and out came Me.” Luckily there were no song festivals back then so he could get an award, but he did sing his lungs out. His mother inside was switching between laughing and screaming at him:

— Shut up, damn you, you’re making me a laughing stock.

Night fell.

The baby ran into its cradle and pretended to get under the blanket and sleep.

—Well, said Maia. He’s been going berserk all day long. He’s pooped. Let him get some rest.

But the youth slept not. He escaped cunningly, “like unto an autumn breeze”, ran straight to Pieria, found the herd, singled out some fifty well-fed oxen of Apollo’s, and took them down to Pylos. He walked them backwards, to cover their trail.

On his way, he met an old man.

—Hey, Old man? Hermes said. You never saw me, and you never saw any oxen either, if you know what’s good for you.

—Are you involved in organised crime?

—No. I’m a God. Same thing, really.

Right. He got to Pylos, he penned the oxen up in a cave, he slaughtered a couple and dined on their smell, as gods did. He got rid of all traces of the fire, and then he tiptoed back to his cradle, lied down, and noone was any the wiser.

In the morning, he said to his mom:

—You thought I was sleeping.

—Why, what were you doing?

—You’re my mom, how can you be that dumb? I’ve pilfered Apollo’s oxen. I stole fifty last night.

Maia, a beautiful woman with long hair, started screaming.

—What are you saying, you little dirtbag!

—And you know what, mom? I’m going to steal the Oracle of Delphi off him next.

Just as she was throwing her slipper at him, the door opened, and Apollo copped the slipper on the head as he walked in. Bump on the head notwithstanding, he grabbed li’l Hermes by the ear.

—Come here, you little thief. Where’s my oxen?

—Who, me? No idea.

—Bring ’em here.

—I never took ’em.

—Never took ’em my ass. I run the augury racket; you think I can’t tell? You’ve nicked them, and you’re going to cough them up now, or the devil will take your father.

“No”, says Hermes, so Apollo lifts him up, throws him over his shoulder, and takes him up to Zeus, who was judging some misdemeanours.

—Dad, he stole my oxen.

—What, this infant?

—Yeah, and he ate them.

Zeus started laughing.

—You little shit. You’ve barely been hatched, and you’re already stealing? What will we do with you when you grow up?

—I’m going to be a merchant.

Zeus scratched his head.

—Well, that makes sense. What else would you become? Either a merchant, or a builder. Maybe a banker.

He clipped him around the ears.

—Go on. Give your brother his herd back.

The two brothers headed off to the herd, and Zeus started guffawing so hard, he almost had an ulcer.

Poseidon was bewildered.

—You’re laughing because he’s ended up a thief?

—That kid, mark my words, will go far. Being a thief makes you a success in society.

—Yeah, but he stole from his own brother.

—A good thief starts with his own brother. Oh, go to hell, talking to me about theft. I’m your bloody guardian. Are you going to teach me how to suck eggs now?

Meanwhile the brothers got to Pylos, Apollo collected his oxen, and calmed down. But two were missing.

—What did you do with the two?

—I ate ’em.

—I should smack you upside the head. Who do you think you are, eating two oxen? A contractor on commission?

Li’l Hermes saw he wasn’t getting out of this, so he presented his lyre.

—Here! Take this!

—What is it?

—An instrument.

And he started playing and singing, “Daddy shtupped Mommy…” Apollo loved it.

—See what the little rascal came up with! Wait, I’m the music guy, how come you get to have a lyre?

—It’s my gift to you.

So Apollo ended up with a lyre. And because he liked the looks of the youngster, he patted him on the head.

—What gift would you like from me, champ?

—How about augury?

—Now don’t be greedy. I need augury as a source of income.

He thought about it.

—OK, you can have augury by games of chance. You can take care of dice, cards, roulette wheels, three-card Monte: anything involving gambling is yours.

—What about pinball?

—When the Americans invent it, you can have that too.

Hermes wasn’t too impressed.

—Would the Americans ever let you get your share? Come off it. Those guys give your the crumbs they’re about to throw out, call it aid, and ask for your firstborn in return.

—Well, you trick them. Get the better of them.

Hermes thought about it, but what Greek god has ever dared get the better of Americans and sent them home humiliated? No-one.

So after all that, the two brothers became friends. Apollo gave him the golden rod of abundance and happiness, and he let him have the oxen after all.

Hermes was touched.

—You’re a great guy, and I’m never stealing anything else from you.

—OK, said Apollo, but I don’t want to see you even walk past my place again.

—Scout’s honour.

And ever since the two brothers became the closest of all gods.

Now, where did this myth come from? We have to admit that this isn’t a Greek myth: we got it straight from the Indian Vedas. The cow herd of Indra, the Indian Apollo, are clouds. All day long the Sun God guards them. At night Sarama [Wikipedia], or the wind spirits Panis, grow strong, being the wind, blow, and drive out the clouds, “stealing” them. At morning, Indra looks for them, and since he sees all from up high he forces Sarama to give them back. We transferred the myth to Pylos “Gate”, as the “Gate of Heaven”. The wind steals the clouds; so he goes about like an “autumn breeze”.

Is the English “because noun” an instance of grammaticalization?

If only.

No, it’s a novel elliptic construction (drop the copula and subject, by default, including an expletive subject: because reasons = because there are reasons). The form Wellington Mendes reports, because wow, is a straightforward analogy.

But the function, meaning, and phonetic content of because has not changed: it’s still a conjunction. Its scope has changed, from a clause to a small clause (cf. paint it black, kill you dead—I don’t believe it is a preposition here). But that’s the only change characteristic of a grammaticalisation, and it’s not enough in my book to do it.

If the Byzantine Empire hadn’t fallen, and instead became the first colonisers of the New World, what would their colonies have been called?

I am not herewith contradicting Dimitris Almyrantis’ answer. For Dimitris Almyrantis is awesome and stuff. I think I’m saying the same as him.

I don’t think much would have been different, except that there’d be Greek names instead of English and Spanish; the naming principles, I suspect, would have been the same.

Byzantine town-naming procedure was usually to name places for emperors and the like; there are a lot of Justinianopoles and Irenopoles and Leontocomes and Theodosias. Cf. Mary-land, James-town, Philip-innes, Georg-ia.

A lot of places were left with their indigenous names, just as the New World was in our timeline. Mexico would likely have remained Mexico, although it would have likelier been transliterated as Metzikon or Mesikon [meʃiko].

In Modern Greece, there is an inordinate number of St X and St Y towns, often as jerryrigged replacements for local Slavonic or Aromanian or Arvanite placenames. The Spanish didn’t stint on such town names; I don’t know that the Byzantines ever did that, but it’s possible that would have happened in the New World. No San Francisco, for example: he’s not an Orthodox saint. But as Russian America (Alaska) shows, you’d get places like New Archangel[sk] = Sitka, St Paul, St Dionysius = Fort Stikine.

There are also a profusion of New X and New Y places, founded by refugees. I think New Smyrna would have been perfectly feasible in the Americas, for instance. (After all, there’s not only a New Smyrna in our timeline in Athens; there’s a New Smyrna Beach, Florida—an ill thought out colony of Greek settlers.)

I don’t have OP’s command of detail (https://www.quora.com/If-the-Byz… ). From Theme (Byzantine district), I am guessing Notiōn (“of the south”) or Notiakōn for Australia, by analogy with Anatolic Theme.

How is Melbourne today different from in the past?

Melbourne in the 80s, when I was in high school:

  • Very Suburban. High density living did not happen: the Great Australian Dream was a large suburban home with a garden, and only the indigent lived in apartment blocks. Seeing apartments spring up everywhere remains a shock to me.
  • Renting happened, but was something to get away from; the notion of renting long-term is still alien to many Australians, which is why they are so disillusioned about housing affordability.
  • There was nothing, nothing going on in the CBD past 6 o’clock. Nothing. Noone lived in the CBD. At all. Minimal presence of restaurants. Very little in the way of cultural stuff. (I’m not counting the Arts Centre.) Tumbleweeds.
  • In fact, Chapel St South Yarra was the only strip where there was some partying all night.
  • People did go in to the CBD to shop, particularly at department stores like Myer. Local shopping malls already existed, but they did not have the exclusive hold on shoppers that they do now.
  • Swanston St was still open to traffic, and not a mall. Bourke St Mall was already a mall, and was even more blah back then.
  • Southbank was wasted, as warehouses. Just like Docklands should have been. (Snobbery towards Docklands is also a very Melbourne thing.)
  • The inner suburbs were not yet gentrified, and were still gritty working class places.
  • Nowhere near the foodie culture Melbourne has now, and certainly none of the food snobbery. Places like Mietta’s (1974–1995), the restaurant of Mietta O’Donnell, were still pioneers of good food, not what you’d routinely expect. And the fusion and innovation that Melbourne hipsters now expect as a default just didn’t exist.
  • No coffee culture outside of Lygon St (Little Italy). I had my first latte in ’90. And for a long time, they couldn’t work out how to prevent the glass from overheating: they’d serve it with a napkin holder.
  • Much bigger pub culture. Especially around universities. In the ’80s, still featuring the 6 o’clock swill: people getting blind drunk because pubs would shut as 6. Again: no boutique beers back then.
  • Not that I experienced it at all, but the snobbish Anglican establishment of Melbourne was likely more prominent. You really have to dig to notice it now. And Real Housewives of Melbourne is not the place to find it.

Can someone identify as just one of their ethnic backgrounds, though they have multiple ones?

Identity, and indeed ethnicity, are not about blood or DNA or ancestry. Yes, skin colour, as a “visible minority”, is different, particularly in the States; but that’s not the scenario your question puts forward. And even in that case, identity is not about blood. It’s about what your society makes of what you look like.

Ethnicity is a cultural construct. Particularly when people around you can’t tell, just by looking at you, which I assume is the case with you. (Disclosure: as you can tell from the topics, one of OP’s ethnicities is Greek, and I’ve had exchanges on that with him before.)

If you prioritise one ethnic background over another, noone has the right to stop you, go ahead: that’s how you identify. To take a smaller-scale example, I identify with my mother’s region of origin rather than my father’s: I’ve spent four years living in Crete, a month visiting Cyprus; I use Cretan dialect words, with only a very faint Cypriot accent; I’m not going to identify with something I’ve barely experienced.

The catch with identity is that identity involves a community, not just an individual; and the community you identify with may not identify with you. Diasporans routinely get a rude shock when they go back to the home country, and the people in the home country say “Huh? Nah, You American.” I’ve seen that here on Quora from Iranians, Italians, and Greeks; it was visibly default behaviour in Armenia.