Why don’t current-day Yugoslavians speak a Latin-based language but Romanians do?

They did:

What happened is quite simple: Slavic tribes moved into the area quite rapidly, between 500 and 800. Slavonic displaced Romance languages in most areas they moved into, with a few enclaves surviving.

The real question is not why don’t Yugoslavians speak Romance, but why Romanians do over such a wide area. Origin of the Romanians – Wikipedia shows that there is not a consensus around it, and of course the question is clouded by politics.

  • Either there was a continguous compact Latin-speaking population in Romania, which resisted Slavonic assimilation (Theory of Daco-Roman continuity);
  • or Romania was resettled by Latin-speaking populations (Aromanians) from enclaves south of the Danube (Immigrationist or Admigrationist theory). The Aromanians are highland shepherds, so they were not in regular contact with Slavs settling the lowlands.

Why don’t Apple devices have an emoji of the flag of Ancient Rome?

The intention of the Unicode Regional Indicator Symbols was to represent current countries in existence (as encoded in ISO 3166-1 alpha-2), as locales for software; the flags are a lagniappe. (A rather unfortunate lagniappe.)

Hence, no SPQR flag: the point of the codes is to indicate the country you live in, as a two letter ISO code, to be used for software localisation. (E.g. use Serbian rather than Russian italics for Cyrillic.) The Roman Empire doesn’t have such a code, because you don’t live in it—though a bunch of defunct 20th century states do.

There’s a proposal to throw the door open for Emoji flags to regions such as Scotland and California. Per UTS #51: Unicode Emoji, those are still restricted to present-day national subdivisions, and historical states are not in scope for them.

Why doesn’t Quora allow the use of emoticons, when it would make the site more interactive?

Because Quora, at a corporate and (mostly) community level, regards itself as an authoritative source of information, rather than a social forum: it deprecates the “interactivity” you speak of, as detracting from the authoritative tone it aspires to.

You will have seen a lot of answers that agree with this judgement. And a little more critically than that, the advertisers likely to want their ads promoted here will also agree with this judgement. (Scott Welch’s answer to When do you think Quora is going to end?)

This doesn’t mean Quora, or the harrumphing answers here, are right. It’s all conventions, they all change, they’re all socially contingent. But right now, in 2017, emojis have an association of levity and unseriousness, and non-emojis have an association that Quora and its core audience seek, of seriousness and expertise.

They’ll wrest my emoticons from my dead clammy hands though. 😐

I’ve spoken elsewhere of the Silicon Valley notion of what scholarship is all about: actual scholars can crack jokes. Just look at the terminology used in computer science. But for now, that’s the register, that’s the prejudice, that’s the expectation.

(Oh, and of course you can actually enter emoji in the editor: [math]unicode{x1F61B}unicode{x1F69E}.[/math] Do expect Quora Moderation to come after you if you do, though.)

Answered 2017-04-10 · Upvoted by

Paul Stockley, Quora Admin Emeritus

Why did Quora just ruin their anonymous question system?

I’m just going to leave this statement in support of Quora made by another user here:

Had everyone behaved themselves, it wouldn’t have come to this.

I’ve edited out my BNBR about it. But statements such as these have led me to blocking users. I can have no discussion with someone whose notion of justice works like this.

Quora had a problem with anonymous content, and has destroyed the village in order to save it. What were they thinking? That this will make the problem go away. And that they will be able to keep the lid on fake accounts.

Which demonstrates again that they are in so much denial about being social media, they refuse to learn anything from social media.

As Talleyrand said: It is worse than a crime, it is a mistake.

BTW, per details:

  1. If you make updates, you’re screwed because you’re no longer anonymous and everything is permanently recorded in the log.

If this is true, Quora is compromising its users’ anonymity without warning. And will richly deserve all the negative publicity it gets for it.

Which 7 people in history would you like to high-five?

Tough question, Habib le toubib: I don’t do heroes, I like my critical faculties about me, and I’ve been jaded for a while. And of course, anyone I’d choose would be morbidly obscure anyway.

OK, challenge accepted.

  • Hubert Pernot. The underappreciated giant of Modern Greek historical linguistics. Not a polemicist, not a tub-thumper; he just got on with it, from a safe distance in Paris. His three volume monograph on the dialect of Chios is an accidental history of all of Modern Greek. His neogrammarian probity in his grammar of Tsakonian is a work for the ages.

  • Giovanni Gabrieli. Author of the music of the spheres, the Canzone e Sonate. Thanks, man. It’s music that makes you proud to be human.

  • Stephanos Sahlikis. If you don’t count Jalal ad-Din Rumi, the first poet to rhyme in Greek, rhyming about whores and gambling and doing time, in the 14th century.
    • Woah! His poems just got published in Panagiotiakis’ long-awaited posthumous critical edition, in 2015! Why didn’t I know about this?! I’m going to have to have words to the maintainer of the Early Modern Greek blog. Thanks Habib, for helping me discover that!

  • Gough Whitlam. Flawed, self-important, chaotic politician (was this guy even Australian?), who built up my country’s pride and dignity, and made my country worthy of the name. Yes, there’s a reason we won’t see his like again. We still owe him.

  • Charilaos Trikoupis. Taciturn, reserved, orderly politician (was this guy even Greek?), who presided over reforms and infrastructure and a bankruptcy, and made my country worthy of the name. Yes, there’s a reason we won’t see his like again. We still owe him.

  • Theodore Metochites. For writing the most obscurantist overgilded Greek ever in his pseudo-Homeric poems, which posed the greatest challenge I faced in all my time at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae. For decreeing that the Ancients left us Mediaeval Greeks nothing to say—in a foreword to 120 essays. For commissioning the marvels of Chora Church, while he was the moneybags-in-charge of the Empire. And for retreating into his own church with dignity, with his books and his sorrow, after he lost everything.

What has your Quora experience taught you about the world and the people in general?

Never a trivial question from you, eh Michaelis?

Something I’ve actually being discussing at some length with Jennifer Edeburn, to whom I seem to have outsourced my superego. (You’ll have noticed I took a day off of that today, Jennifer?)

Nothing I would not have learned from engaging with humanity in general, if I got out more. But some lessons are always salutary, the more so if you learn them ten times running.

  • People are wonderful. Randoms have unfathomable reserves of empathy, kindness, and respect. Which I have drawn on, and which I hope to have reciprocated.
  • People are awful. Not just the discernible reprobates, the trolls and the bigots: that’s too easy, that’s too fertile a ground for “but I’m above that”. The smug, the judgemental, the unthinking, the bien-pensant. The cliquish, the reactive, the indignant. That get applauded for it.
    • And that at times, that can include me. Not a pleasant learning, but a useful one. To be conscious of it is not enough, but it’s an advance anyway.
  • People are complex. You can admire one facet of a person, and find another repulsive; or at least problematic. Which makes evaluating whether they are in or out with you difficult.
  • People are duplicitous. Or rather, subtle. I hear reports that a lot of people have been unmasked by anonymity fails, under the new regime. I wouldn’t be chortling about it: who among us does not have things about them they’d rather not be broadcast?
    • You, perhaps, Michaelis. But you are a nihilist, after all.
    • Oh, and I also wouldn’t be chortling, because “upstanding citizens” too can be embarrassed by privacy fails. And they have further to fall.
  • Large organisations are stupid and don’t care about you. However many buffets they lay out for you. A relatively easy thing to learn, and I’m astonished that a critical mass don’t seem to have.
  • Large organisations have their own agenda, and that’s no more immoral than you having your own agenda. That takes a bit more getting your head around. As I said towards the end of my coming to terms with it: if Quora’s Moloch, then there’s no use getting angry at a furnace. That’s what furnaces do.
    • (I’ve taken to calling it a Wall since. Less… incendiary.)
  • Communication is possible with people of good will, who let go of their dogmas. That’s a useful lesson that comes with BNBR self-policing.
  • Communication is impossible with people who do not share your postulates about the basics. I can talk politics with communists; I cannot talk politics with libertarians. I can talk theology with the undogmatic, I cannot with the self-righteous. There are limits to BNBR.
  • Privilege is real, and so is hegemony, and so is complacency. There’s a reason no revolution ever worked on BNBR.
  • There is a place for a salon of the thoughtful and the critical, whether Mountain View intended it thus or not. If that’s an abdication from the pressing urgency on the streets, well, let me have it. If Rome is falling, there are worse things to do in its final days than recline on the couch and discuss pentameters.

What are some tips for living in Melbourne?

  • The sooner you pronounce the city name the way the locals do, the better. Not MELbin, but MALbin: Salary–celery Merger, a proudly Victorian peculiarity. (Whaddaya mean, New Zuhluhnduhrs do it too?) And never, ever pronounce that <r> in Melbourne. What do you think this is, Melbourne, Florida?
  • Never say anything good about Sydney. It’s against the law.
  • As others have said, learn to coffee snob. See for example Guide to America | Chaser Guides. The print version has the gem “Every day, Starbucks sells 4 million cups of coffee. And not one of them is any good.”
  • Go for weekend drives, down the Mornington Peninsula, up to the hills (towards Mt Dandenong), or down to North Hipsterville Daylesford. Thank me later.
    • Maybe get me a latte or something. Strong, no sugar.
  • There are divides in Melbourne:
    • There is a North Of The River/South Of The River divide. It’s not social, it’s about travel convenience. It’s easy to be in a rut and never venture across the River. Don’t fall for it unless you haven’t bothered to get a car. There’s good things to be experienced both sides of the river.
      • I once gave an American linguist a tour of the inner south. It was all new to him: all the Melbourne Uni academics who had hosted him had never taken him further south than St Kilda. ST KILDA!
    • There is a West Of The River/East Of The River divide. That one is social, and it’s to do with lack of infrastructure in the West. Which means the West has been historically working-class and aggrieved. Demographic pressure though means that gentrification is happening even in the West; Williamstown is already shmick, and Footscray is now only selectively grotty. (Why yes, I do live East Of The River, why do you ask?)
    • There is a Hipster/Burbs divide. That one is real. Do not succumb to it on either side. The inner city is wonderful and vibrant. It’s also smug. And the middle range burbs are no longer a wasteland; there’s nice greenery and good social enclaves and a booming café culture. (The outer burbs… well, yeah. They’re dormitory suburbs. Particularly estates. Berwick’s nice though.)
Answered 2017-04-10 · Upvoted by

Charlotte Li, lives in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (2006-present)

What are some examples of folk etymology?

Bridegrooms, Bonfires, and Woodchucks: Folk Etymologies in English. From that link:

  • The textbook examples for English are sparrowgrass for asparagus, and bridegroom, which should have been bridegoom. (The word gome for “man” became extinct, so people grabbed the nearest similar word. Now that the noun groom for “horse attendant” has also become extinct, people use groom to mean bridegroom.)
  • Apparently cockroach is a folk etymology mangling of cucaracha, and Algonquin otchek became woodchuck.
  • A bonfire was originally bonefire; people assumed the bon- is French.
  • The change of femelle to female in English was a folk etymology linking it to male.

An example I discovered just this year, because of Quora, is the Greek for toyboy or twink, teknó. It looks like a mis-stressed version of the Ancient Greek téknon “child”, the word with which priests address their parishioners. (Insert your own joke here.)

In fact, it’s from the Romany tiknó, “small (child)”. Kaliarda, the cant of Greek street queens in the 60s, used Romany for its base vocabulary, just as its counterpart Polari for English used Italian. Someone along the line noticed the similarity of tiknó to téknon, and switched the vowel accordingly. (Amusingly, someone also noticed it in 1800: Etymologicon magnum, or Universal etymological dictionary, on a new plan [By W. Whiter].)

… Unless Romany tiknó is derived from téknon itself, of course. But I’m reasonably sure it isn’t: Scandoromani derives it from Sanskrit tīkṣṇa “sharp”.

Should Quora vet questions posted anonymously to decide if anonymity is appropriate or just trolling?

Should Quora honour the commitments it has made publicly and eponymously?

(Improvements to Anonymity on Quora by Riley Patterson on The Quora Blog. Remember that name.)


In Riley’s sentence:

All anonymous content will be reviewed for spam and harassment before receiving distribution,

(remember, he put his name to that statement),

should “fairly dimwitted bot, of the caliber we can expect of Quora bots in the year 2017” be understood to be the subject of the weaselly passive, and a satisfactory level of review?


I’m sure Quora thinks Yes. Because they want this done on the cheap. The answer is still No.

Should Quora commit to vetting questions to decide if anonymity is appropriate or just trolling?

How well is the “new anonymity” policy on Quora working at filtering out bad content, as of March 20, 2017?

If this is the level of their vetting, better not to have made that undertaking at all.