Is Classical Sanskrit the world’s first constructed language?

There’s a spectrum between conventionalised and artificial, and Sanskrit is somewhere along that spectrum. Specialists other than myself can answer better than I as to how artificial Sanskrit is.

We have no idea how old the Aboriginal initiate language Damin is, and therefore whether it is older than Sanskrit or not. It is clearly much further along the artificial axis than Sanskrit is, although it is still based on the Aboriginal vernacular language Lardil. (Read about it: it really is an astonishing language.)

How is Quora able to mark questions as “needing improvement” so quickly?

To add to Vivek Joshy’s answer:

Quora is also clearly marking questions as “needing improvement” based on a grammar bot. The grammar bot has a better command of grammar than many people.

But not better than all people. The grammar bot has a somewhat… limited understanding of grammar, and I have found myself randomly rearranging punctuation and capitalisation, to get things past it. Linguistic questions, with words being cited for discussion, are particularly difficult for it to handle: do use italics.

As for Vivek’s contention that:

It would only do this type of moderation if it is very sure that the question is of that type.

Well… that has not been my experience.

There is in fact an army of people looking at Quora content (Trusted Reporting (Quora feature)), but they’re looking for BNBR and such violations. The ability of users to mark questions as needing improvement (by adding the topic “Needs Improvement” has been taken away:

Has a proto-language ever been accurately constructed prior to discovery of a historical text in said proto-language?

Vote #1, Daniel Ross: Daniel Ross’ answer to Has a proto-language ever been accurately constructed prior to discovery of a historical text in said proto-language?

Vote #2, Brian Collins: Brian Collins’ answer to Has a proto-language ever been accurately constructed prior to discovery of a historical text in said proto-language?

I’ll add that Linear B is similar to Hittite: it is closer to proto-Greek than anything we had, and it was deciphered after proto-Greek (and proto-Indo-European) was reconstructed. It has the digammas of proto-Greek, and it was the labiovelars of proto-Greek…

… except, it’s actually the other way around. If we didn’t have proto-Greek as a guide, we wouldn’t have been able to decipher Linear B. The syllabary was utterly unknown to us, and we have no independent corroboration, save for the odd pictograph that cracked the puzzle (tiripode = tripod). So it’s not like Linear B was as much of an independent corroboration of proto-Greek as we might like.

Do Greeks marry Greeks or do they mix?

Depends on where and when, of course.

In Australia 40 years ago: almost never intermarried. In Australia now: often do intermarry; intermarriage exceeded 50% some time in the last ten years.

In Greece a century ago: almost never intermarried. There weren’t a lot of non-Greeks around to marry (depending on your definition of non-Greek, of course; I’m taking an expansive one). Now: less so.

Of course, that answer is a commonplace. More concretely: Greeks are by default endogamous in diasporas: they are rather attached to maintaining their cultural identity in the face of what they see as an external threat. Unusually so, compared with other migrant groups.

That gets mitigated by various interrelated factors.

  • Size of settlement: small Maniat settlements in Italy in the 17th century assimilated rather readily.
  • Local authority figures: the colony in Corsica did not assimilate in the critical first two generations, because they had a monasteryful of monks and several chieftains with them, urging them to stay Greek Orthodox.
  • Time: the second generation of Greek Australians didn’t intermarry; the third did.
  • Sense of threat: the Greeks that migrated from Corsica and Mani to New Smyrna Beach, Florida were a minority of the settlers; the majority were Minorcans (especially once malaria got the Maniots). In New Smyrna, it was the Minorcans and the Greco-Corsicans against the cruelty of Andrew Turnbull. In Corsica, the Greeks were at constant war with the Catholic Corsicans for another three generations; in Florida, the same Greeks intermarried with the Minorcans immediately. The Minorcans weren’t the threat any more; the English were.