Why does Quora suggest that I discover Jessica Su, Pegah Esmaili, Joshua Engel?

It’s puzzling, OP. The default guess is, they are prominent writers in topics you are interested in.

They are prominent writers. But the topics don’t quite click.

All three happen to be programmers; but Pegah has only posted one answer on programming (and a curt one at that). And there’s nothing in your profile, OP, to indicate that you’re interested in programming.

Pegah has posted in Countries of the World, a topic you follow; and Iran, which she posts a lot about, is a Country of the World.

Jessica posts on Computer Science, which is… tech, and you do Electricity, which is… also tech. Joshua posts, among many other things, on Java, which is… tech, and on Science, which is… related to tech.

The recommended writer thing is a bit opaque; there’s a fair bit of just plain “this person is popular” in there. But they do seem to be popular writers that at least tangentially relate to your interests.

Which Indian states are well known in other countries?

I live in Australia, and I have not taken an especial interest in the states of India.

So. Data point. States I’ve heard of.

  • Assam. Because tea. (Also, in my case, because I know a linguist that worked on Assamese languages.)
  • Goa. Because Portuguese colony. And something to do with hippies.
  • Gujarat. Because, um, major ethnic group.
  • Kashmir. Because fabric, and flashpoint with Pakistan.
  • Kerala. Because communists, and very good education.
  • (I’ve heard of Nagaland, and I honestly don’t know why. Probably because of that Assam linguist.)
  • Punjab. Because, um, major ethnic group.
  • Rajasthan. Because tourist attractions.
  • Tamil Nadu. Because Tamils.
  • West Bengal. Because, um, major ethnic group.

When was the last time you blocked someone on Quora and why?

I’ve been sparing about blocking. I don’t like blocking, and I resented the hell out of it when I’ve been blocked: Nick Nicholas’ answer to Which people on Quora do you believe have blocked you unfairly, and why?

I have blocked two people (separate from the only two or three people I have muted), and I forgot the first one already. I remember he called me a coward, so I unblocked and said, OK, give me your best argument. It still didn’t end well, but… *shrug*.

The second one has a bit of an idée fixe about English Spelling Reform. I had a couple of encounters with him, and he started lumping me in as part of the problem of why Spelling Reform wasn’t happening, and I should be ashamed as a linguist that I wasn’t contributing to the solution instead of the problem. I kept counterarguing that there are in fact some positives to English Spelling; that it would be utterly impractical to fix it now, we lost our chance to in the 17th century; that the diversity of English phonologies means a pandialectal phonetic spelling just would not work. Nothing doing.

In the last exchange, this individual started holding me personally responsible for all the colonialist evils perpetuated by the Evil English, and getting, in my opinion, unhinged and personal. It really didn’t help that he was throwing his credentials around for his arguments, and I had more credentials than him.

After three or four exchanges, I decided: You know, I’m never going to have a constructive exchange with this guy, he just shits me, and he’s lumped me in with his grand conspiracy theory and deems me the enemy.

So… *plonk*

I am such a swell guy though that, even though I refuse to read a word this guy ever writes again, I have recommended him to another Quoran I esteem highly (hi Irene!), who also happens to be a fan of spelling reform.

Like I say, I use blocking sparingly. The more popular you get, the more at risk you are of getting into nasty exchanges, so I’m likely to block more in the future; but to date, I prefer shunning. There’s a Greek Revivalist who I’ve had some unpleasant encounters with a few months back (though it was all very schizo—he complimented me in other encounters, and we followed each other). He’s back, and I really dislike his stuff; but I’m preferring to avoid him rather than get into a situation where I have to block him. (Aziz and Dimitra, you know who I’m talking about.)

What is the minimum number of words that a Quora answer must contain not to be collapsed instantaneously?

Originally Answered:

What is the minimum length an answer should be to prevent auto-collapse?

If you are a writer of long standing, you can write a single letter, and not be collapsed.

The UI makes it very hard to tell when you are being collapsed, as you keep frantically adding sentences to undo the collapse. But my guess is, two or three sentences.

What do contemporary Greeks think of Lord Byron?

To add to the others (which is why you must upvote the others):

Greeks revere Byron (to the point of Βύρων[ας] Viron(as) being a name they give their kids), because he was a prominent foreign supporter of the Greek War of Independence.

What contemporary Greeks do NOT know is that Byron was a Romantic poet, and that being a Romantic poet is why he was in Greece to begin with. He could have been an ironworker, and they would have still revered him for being this guy:

As opposed to being this guy:

What are examples of Quora writers recording themselves reading one of their own Quora answers?

Jordan Yates! Thank you for the question!

Kelley Spartiatis and Alfredo Perozo, thank you too!

You all want to hear yourselves some Hawt Aussie Accent Action, don’t you.

And Pegah Esmaili, I tried not to yell this time!

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Nick Nicholas, why are you so fascinated with Nixon?

Vocaroo | Voice message

This goes on for 9 minutes. And it has very bad American accents in it.

Regardless of popularity, what are your top 3 favorites among your Quora answers?

Well, I answered the top #1 answer a couple of months ago: Nick Nicholas’ answer to For Quora writers who have over 1000 answers: What is your favorite answer you have written?

That answer pinpointed as my favourite Nick Nicholas’ answer to How can one summarize the Watergate scandal to a kid? Still pretty proud of it, still thinking about illustrating it eventually. Though how I’d market it to kids is an issue.

I don’t do rankings very well, I just don’t think in those terms. So I’ll pick four more, not so much as my all time faves, but as representative of my favourite type of answer. And because I like to annoy Habib.

  1. I like to jump into a problem posed by a question, whose answer I do not know at all—and try and work it out from first principles. That happens a fair bit in some out-there linguistics questions, and I’m starting to do a bit of it in cultural studies and history as well. Some people would call it guesswork. I call it informed hypothesising—the kind scholars do when they tackle a new problem. (And I do make a point of warning readers that’s what I’m doing.)
    My exemplar is the first time I did this, which was my third answer ever: Nick Nicholas’ answer to Why do the names of many Greek letters end in “a”?
  2. I like to answer questions through which I work out more about who I am and where I stand about things. Habib Fanny, who A2A’d me this, feeds a lot of questions like that, but he’s not the only such source!
    I’ve done a lot of those exploring my Greek culture, but I’ll put up as my exemplar Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do Australians like being Australian citizens? I actually almost shed a tear writing this. (Which is un-Australian, I know.)
  3. I try to be funny, I think, or at least stream-of-consciousness droll. There are few if any examples of answers mostly played for laughs; I do try to answer the question much of the time. But Edward Conway praised me for this answer that I wrote at La Gigi’s prompting for madcapness; and Edward has good aesthetics about him. So: Nick Nicholas’ answer to Nick Nicholas, why are you so fascinated with Nixon?
  4. I like protesting what I think goes wrong here on Quora. I like drawing cartoons. And occasionally, I get to combine the two. As in Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do you believe Quora moderation is doing a good and responsible job of maintaining this site’s policies? Why or why not?

Is it impossible for a non-Australian to speak with an authentic Australian accent?

Not impossible: I’ve posted an instance I witnessed in Nick Nicholas’ answer to Who are some people you know who became fluent in a foreign language as an adult?

You need a good ear, of course. It may well also help if you’re not already a speaker of another dialect of English. But fluent speech can be acquired by an adult; it’s just slower, and possibly harder work.

Is Albanian a creole language?

*tosses head back chuckling*

Ah, I know where this question comes from. I did a drive-by shooting in a comment thread, saying “no, Albanian is not a creole”.

Fair enough that I should be asked why.

A creole in linguistics is not just a language that you think sounds mixed. It has a specific meaning. Pidgins arise as people speaking different languages try to communicate, without knowing each others’ languages very well. Creoles are languages that have developed out of a pidgin, as children learn it as their native language.

Now, the thing about pidgins that is truly characteristic is not that that they have a mixed vocabulary. They can in theory, because they are common improvised languages for people who speak different languages. But in fact usually they don’t: most modern pidgins arose in situations of slavery or near-slavery, and the vocabulary is mostly the colonialists’ vocabulary. (And often baby-talk at that, because the colonialists really did talk down to their slaves.)

What is characteristic about pidgins is that they have extremely simple, stripped down grammars. They have minimal inflection and rigid syntax. After all, they are the language you speak when you don’t have a language in common: so you end up stripping language to its basics.

Creoles (as linguists define them) have a lot more grammar than pidgins; and the grammar starts having the quirks and peculiarities and exceptions that we are used to in most human languages. But even so, compared to their source languages, they remain on the simple side grammatically. Compare Haitian Creole with French, for example.

Now, you will hear speculation that English is a creole. But that’s not because of the mixture of French and Germanic vocabulary after 1066. That was a socially stratified situation, nothing creole about it. If English is a creole (which I’m not convinced by), it happened earlier, when the Vikings came to town: the lexicon of the Norsemen and the Anglo-Saxons was the same, the inflections were different, so they just dropped the inflections. Which amounts to dropping the grammar, like pidgins do.

OK. Albanian has a recognisably Albanian core vocabulary. It also has a substantial amount of Latin vocabulary, and some Greek. In fact, the amount of non-Albanian vocabulary in Albanian is remarkable among Indo-European languages—just as it is for Armenian. So, it has a mixed vocabulary. Like English does.

But that doesn’t make it a creole. That just means intense language contact, and high social prestige of Latin and Greek—which is also how English got all its French and Latin vocabulary. If you’re looking for evidence of a creole, you want to check for a minimal grammar, with almost no inflection.

That’s not what you get in Albanian. What you get is all the inflections and complexity you’d expect of a relatively archaic Indo-European language. Hence, no creole.

There’s only one language in the Balkans for which there’s been speculation of creolisation: Tsakonian. The guy who speculated on it was Dirk Hesseling, who was an expert on both creoles and Tsakonian—and got a town meeting in Leonidion to vote a protest against him. Hesseling had invented a hammer, so everything to him seemed a nail; but Tsakonian has clearly undergone some sort of inflectional meltdown in its history. No sign of that in Albanian.

If famous writers on Quora were Greek gods, who would they be?

Of course, my list won’t match others’ lists, because our Quora feeds really do not overlap.

Here’s my pentekaidekatheon (15 gods, to let in Dionysus and Hades and Persephone).

  • Zeus: Lyonel Perabo. The guy is a Greek god, isn’t he? Just ask his wife!
  • Hera: Dimitra Triantafyllidou. She is, after all, my Nemesis. Mostly in a good way!
  • Poseidon: Edward Conway. Because he… you know, Edward, I’m not sure why. Because you’re as gentle as the lapping sea, I guess. Apparently you have stormy waters too, but they’re in topics I’ve muted.
  • Demeter: Jordan Yates. Because she’s blonde. And hopefully she likes cereal.
  • Athena: McKayla Kennedy. For her quiet, unobtrusive wisdom.
  • Apollo: Jeremy Markeith Thompson. For the zen chillness: a truly Apollonian virtue.
  • Artemis: Clarissa Lohr. Because her profile pic has her with a Nerf gun. And because she hunts down justice.
  • Ares: Scott Welch. The Scourge of Olympus.
  • Aphrodite: Mary C. Gignilliat. Like there was any doubt.
  • Hephaestus: Michael Masiello. Oh, he was going to get Zeus or Athena, but I decided Hephaestus suited his dark humour better…
  • Hermes: Habib Fanny. He’s quicksilver, that guy.
  • Hestia: Gigi J Wolf. There must be some connection between the Goddess of the Hearth and a former Air Hostess.
  • Dionysus: Michaelis Maus. Because he’s got the whole Dionysian Nihilism thing going on.
  • Persephone: weird chthonic deity, who curses men and is caught up with strange rituals? Obviously Pegah Esmaili.
  • Hades: Jimmy Liu, who presides over the permabanned in the underworld. NO I AM NOT OVER IT!!!