Why is Aromanian not officially recognized in Greece?

Oh dear.

Greece has long had a model of state nationalism which, like that of France, treated minorities as a threat to national unity, and pursued assimilation. The Greek Orthodox ethnic minorities of Greece, who had identified with ethnic Greeks as fellow members of the Rum millet, enthusiastically embraced assimilation for the most part.

So there was no enthusiasm through the 19th century for any official status of a language other than Greek, and not many Greek citizens who would think it a good idea. Just as there were not many French citizens who thought official status for Breton or Basque or Occitan or German was a good idea.

In the 20th century, as Greece expanded north, the strife in Ottoman Macedonia between ethnic groups (what Greeks term the Macedonian Struggle) involved various nations as sponsors of those groups. The ethnic free-for-all involved not just ethnic Greeks and Slavs (Macedo-Bulgarians), but also Aromanians. There were Aromanians who identified with Greece, and Aromanians who identified with Bulgaria, and in fact there were Aromanians who identified with Romania.

When the dust settled after the Macedonian Struggle, Romania extracted from the Greek government the concession that Romanian-language schools could operate for Aromanians in Greece. Anecdotally, the villages where Romanian was taught were the villages where Aromanian died out the fastest: the concession made the locals’ allegiance to Greece look suspect.

Official languages other than Greek have never been encouraged in Greece; that has not been the model Greek nationalism has embraced. Talking too loudly about languages other than Greek in Greece has not particularly been favoured either. There is a resurgence of interest in Arvanitika and Aromanian now; but it’s safe for there to be a resurgence, now that the languages are moribund. And unlike the Makedonski of Greece, the loyalty of the Arvanites and the Aromanians to Greece has never been questioned. (An exception for the Aromanians would be the Principality of the Pindus; but that was a marginal phenomenon.)

Why do most people focus on ancient Greek history ignoring the rest of the Greek history?

The West claims its patrimony from the Renaissance West and Mediaeval West. The Mediaeval West claimed its patrimony from Rome. Rome, and the Renaissance West, claimed their cultural patrimony from Ancient Greece.

So Ancient Greece matters to the West, because the West regarded itself as the cultural inheritor of Ancient Greece.

The Byzantine Empire was not regarded as the cultural ancestor of the West. It is regarded as the cultural ancestor of Russia, which is why you can find a lot of Byzantine Studies PDFs on dark corners of the Russian internet. But the West has no more reason to pay attention to Byzantium than to the Abbasids or the Safavids: an important empire, but not their empire.

Ditto Modern Greek history. If the West doesn’t pay that much attention to Ottoman history (not their empire), it will pay even less attention to the Greek elite within the Ottoman Empire. And Modern Greece is just another poor southern European country.

Now, I’m Greek, and Mediaeval and Modern Greek history is incredibly important to me. Mediaeval and Modern Greek history is also important to many Westerners (Byzantine studies is not a Greek-only or even Eastern European-only affair), and I’m grateful for it. But there are sound cultural reasons why Byzantium is of more interest to the average Russian than the average French.

What’s the next useful and perfectly good feature that Quora is going to do away with?

Ooh… Idle speculation! Love it!

Wild speculation:

*touch wood* Blogs.

Marginalised in the UX for a very long time; not aligned well to the Q&A aspect of Quora; too individualised, at a time when the site seems to be inching away from individuality; not subject to content moderation.

*touch wood*

The current trend though, is away from social media functionality, and has been deemphasising your followers. So:

Less Wild speculation:

In the display of your followers, or the mouseover display of a user: the followers you have in common.

It’s the last piece of the puzzle: MVW badges and TW quills have already been taken away from the former.

Really Wild Speculation:

Oh, this one’s nasty.

Survey Questions.

What do Albanian Italians and Greek Italians think of each other?

I don’t know the answer as to what contemporary attitudes are. I do know two things though:

  • The Arbëresh settlements in Italy were nowhere near the Griko settlements: the Arbëresh were much further to the north. There would have been a brief period when they shared church administration, before the Griko switched from Greek rite to Roman rite. But as far as I can tell, the two populations would barely have been aware of each other before the 20th century.
  • The Griko really are Italian first (actually, given campanilismo, Salentini and Calabresi first), and Greek second or third. While Girolamo de Rada was the first Albanian patriot, I suspect the same is true of the Arbëresh. And as I posted at Nick Nicholas’ answer to How is the enmity between Greece and Albania different to that between Greece and Turkey?, enmity between Albanians and Greeks is a fairly recent thing—especially as the Arbëresh were originally Orthodox.

So if there’s any bad blood in Italy, it’ll be by people paying attention to what’s been happening in the Balkans, and who feel a very strong bond to what’s happening back there. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I’d be surprised if it’s a big thing.

That aside, folklore enthusiasm and minority status would certainly be bringing Arbëresh and Griko together nowadays, whether as language advocates or as music performers. Those people, who are the vanguard of preserving their respective identities, would have much more cause to regard each other as allies within Italy.

Is “how much am I owing you” grammatically correct?

The only correct answer here is from Andrew McKenzie; however he has left it a bit brief, and I’m happy to elaborate a bit more.

English divides verbs between dynamic and stative. See Stative verb – Wikipedia.

Dynamic verbs are verbs that can be put in the progressive (be doing); stative verbs normally cannot.

So “how much am I owning you”, and for that matter “how much am I owing you”, are not normally grammatical in English, because own and owe are both stative verbs.

However, that ends up saying that you can’t put own or owe in the progressive, because neither are verbs that you put in the progressive. Let’s tease this out a little more.

Dynamic verbs are verbs that describe actions or activities, something that happens in the world. Stative verbs describe states, situations that just are.

Actions and activities are situations that perceptibly start and stop, and can keep going on, and can happen just for a little while. For that reason, it is meaningful to speak of a difference between ran and was running, or walks and keeps walking.

States are not situations that perceptibly start and stop, and do not happen just for a little while: they just keep going on. For that reason, it is not meaningful (normally) to speak of a difference between knows and was knowing, or likes and keeps liking. They are states that already have built in the notion of keeping on being true.

Owning something and owing someone something are taken in English as states, not actions. They’re not stop–start, they’re not something you can do for a little while or continuously: they are ongoing states, just like knowing or believing or hearing.

Now, some verbs are dynamic though they look like states. Sitting and sleeping for example. And some verbs are stative though they look like actions. And you can reinterpret a verb so that it turns from one category to another. You hear noises, you are not hearing noises; but you can be hearing rumours about me, because that kind of hearing is more about gaining intelligence than sensory perception. On the other hand, Franciscus Alex Rebro’s example of I’m owning you in this game works, because that sense of own is not a state of possession, it is an action of defeating someone.

So the grammatical division between the verbs is leaky and contextual. But by default, both am owning and am owing are ungrammatical in English, for reasons of both verbs being perceived as states.

If Quora had a civil war, what would be the two sides?

You mean this isn’t already underway?

Jason MacDonald characterised one binary split; I’ll characterise a different split, which I’ve been rather outspoken in—and I’ll go all BNBR and assume that Jason is not describing the same split.

There’s a dividing line between those who think both Quora’s policy and its implementation of policy is good and/or not to be questioned; and those who have misgivings or outright rebel against either.

As much of The Insurgency discusses, the latter cannot “win”, because it’s Quora’s policy and its implementation of policy.

There’s a separate dividing line between those who want Quora to be about sharing knowledge, and those who want Quora to (also) be social media. (The ability to comment on every answer is about this dividing line, I think, rather than the former.)

Various statements and actions from Quora have weighed against Quora being a social medium; the same seems to hold about the UX trends documented at Bug? or Feature? lately.

FWIW, I don’t think you’ll find many fans of Quora UX, as opposed to Quora Moderation, so I don’t think that’s a dividing line.

Do writers feel more creative and expressive with pen and paper, or do thoughts come out as easily as when typing on a keyboard?

Typing for my day job of writing policy documents or business analyses. Typing for my past vocation of writing linguistics papers. Typing for Quora, typing for blogs.

Typing for doggerel: Nick Nicholas’ answer to How can one use the word “Quora” in a limerick?

For a sonnet? For a poem that actually matters to me? The scratching out of rhyming alternatives and metrical missteps is actually part of the process for me. As is the scrawl.

To my wife, on our five-year anniversary by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile

Do linguistics departments normally include mostly women, gay men, vegans, and leftists?


Well, let’s see.

Linguistics in the West appears to have broken down the barriers against women getting academic promotion relatively early, and the majority of enrolments at undergraduate level in my department were women.

I remember a male linguist (Newmeyer? Pullum?) citing approvingly a hotelier’s guide to the convention partying styles of various professions. Under Linguists, the guide allegedly said that they were relatively well behaved, and that they “brought their own women”. Those weren’t their own women, the writer pointed out. Those were themselves linguists.

There are unofficial uniforms and standards of dress and makeup in different disciplines here in Australia. I overheard a female prof once say “… You don’t think I put on too much lippie today, do you?” I also remember a girl stumbling into a tutorial, asking if this was Economics 201. We took one look at her—tailored suit, abundant makeup, power heels—and at us—jeans, no makeup, Doc Martens. No, this was not Economics 201.

There were gay men and women in our department; I’ve related elsewhere the tale of a male tutor who had a crush on me (Nick Nicholas’ answer to Would you want to see a list of everyone who has ever secretly had a crush on you?). I don’t know that linguistics disproportionately attracted them, but an Arts department would impose much less pressure on gay men to stay in the closet than, oh, I don’t know, Electrical Engineering.

There were vegans, and there were leftists, sure. Not many vegans, but certainly mostly leftists. Two factors there.

First, as has been discussed elsewhere here at length, academia tends to disproportionately attract public service-oriented over business-oriented minds, and that correlates with being left wing. That’s going to be even more the case in the humanities, which does not have a hard nosed practical utility, and which overrepresents those willing to scrutinise and question accepted authority.

Second, my department in particular was heavy on anthropological linguistics and fieldwork, in its general linguistics, and critical discourse theory in its applied linguistics. That’s not going to be the case everywhere; for general linguistics, it’s certainly not the case in Europe or much of America. But if your department is full of people who trot off to Boingo Boingo and spend three months with the locals (and end up called in as expert witnesses to defend their land title claims), don’t be surprised if a lot of them are going to be sympathetic to the dispossessed in general, and strive to be cultural relativists.

That occasionally erupted into disputes like whether Myanmar instead of Burma was really respecting the local practice or just a tinpot dictatorship, and whether cultural relativism really meant we should keep shtum about human rights abuses. But that was a debate within the left, as far as I could tell.

Yes, there were exceptions. Our best linguist was a Charismatic Anglican, who ended up becoming a pastor, and more recently an anti-Muslim polemicist. But I think it’s fair to say that the linguistics departments I’ve seen have been homes of bienpensant leftism. (The Charismatic Anglican did leave to become a pastor, after all.)

That’s not intrinsically a problem, it’s self-selection. But it is a bias to be aware of.