Australian Republic Movement Ad

How do you remind Australians on Australia Day that they should really be a republic after all?

By getting them to sing the Australian Royal National Anthem in an ad.

You know the one.

‘God save the Queen’: Royal anthem gets republican twist in new ad campaign

Good work, Australian Republican Movement. You didn’t even need the people in the ad to stumble over the words (“something and glorious”). The incongruity is already plenty obvious.

(You might want to update your HTML title on your website, though, to reflect your rebranding to “Australian Republic Movement”…)

The YouTube comments, btw, indicate that the ad did not have the same resonance with monarchists that it has had with me…

Why does Quora delete questions even if some of the answers are very good?

This fate has befallen me: e.g. Am I shallow or superficial for thinking Australia’s aboriginals are the least attractive race of humans in the world? (QUESTION DELETED) by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile. I’ve just been asked this in PM about another instance of an offensive question with answers skilfully refuting its problematic assumptions: Mike DiGirolamo’s answer to Is it right to be publicly anti-gay?

Even if the questions are offensive, good answers refuting those assumptions are useful and constructive, right? They spread knowledge and virtue, they can motivate great writing, they can challenge readers and make them more critical. So why get rid of them?

Go read Jeremy Arnold’s answer to What are common characteristics of very popular Quora users who are not Top Writers?

Read it, because he nails what it is Quora is after, and indirectly, why Quora would not give a toss about the virtuous answers deleted along with the offensive questions.

Quora is only interested in answers to questions. Specifically, answers to questions people are likely to google (and, I should add, that will not scare off advertisers).

Their primary interest is not good writing. Not virtue. Not challenging readers. It’s providing answers to Google-worthy questions.

What brings new users to Quora? High-quality answers that provide domain expertise to questions as they are asked.

Going beyond is fine. Adding personality is fine. But many writers looking to build an audience end up doing the three things that Quora views as unhelpful, effectively treating questions as writer’s prompts instead of narrow knowledge queries.

While there can be genuine value in this (e.g., exposing the hidden bias inherent in a short-sighted question), the future value of Quora as a platform is tied to the IPA market (Siri, Google Assistant, etc.) — which means that bio credibility and domain expertise are far more valuable than writing or entertainment skills.

[My italics]

In fact, look at Quora’s answer to What does a good answer on Quora look like? What does it mean to “be helpful”?, which Jeremy cites:

You should always assume that people are asking in good faith and really want help. Helpful answers don’t change the subject, obsess over faulty premises, or make fun of the question.

Quora does not want you to “obsess over faulty premises” of an offensive question. And the offensive question will attract undersirables, and repel advertisers. Quora just wants the question gone.

Btw, I deeply enjoy writing answers that “obsess over faulty premises”, both in the question and in other answers; I love applying my critical faculties and going beyond the glib first answer that pops through people’s outrage. That enjoyment is certainly worth more to me than a jacket.

What is your opinion on the unidirectionality hypothesis of grammaticalization?

I am much more of a functionalist than Daniel Ross and Brian Collins, so I am much more sympathetic to unidirectionality, and the fact that there are counterexamples does not bother me.

It did bother Brian Joseph, who’s one of the big names against unidirectionality, and who also marked my thesis. He found it pretty good, despite the fact that it was written within the grammaticalisation framework.

Hypothesis is likely too strong a word, since it’s opened up to refutation through the counterexamples. But the tendency towards more grammatical, more reduced, more bounded, more obligatorified, is a thing, and it’s both quite useful in reconstruction (as Daniel concedes), and something to be explained.

Formalists in an online discussion on unidirectionality I read once dismissed unidirectionality in grammaticalisation as an epiphenomenon. The retort was: aren’t most interesting phenomena?

Answered 2017-04-22 · Upvoted by

Steve Rapaport, Linguistics PhD candidate at Edinburgh. Has lived in USA, Sweden, Italy, UK.

Are there similarities between Turkish and Greek Music?

There are underlying similarities between Turkish and Greek music at a deeper level, and there are clear similarities between Greek pop and Turkish pop at a more proximate level.

At a deeper level, the scales and instruments used by Turks and Greeks are related, through close to a millennium of coexistence. The tunings and modes of Byzantine chant have undergone microtonal influence from Turkish classical music. (The Greek chant preserved in Corsica does not have the same microtones.) Both the wind and the stringed instruments of the region have travelled in both directions. And of course the folk music of Christians and Muslims living in the same region was usually indistinguishable, whether it was Greece or Turkey. (Crete appears to have been an exception, but Christians took up the Muslim repertoire anyway after the Muslims left.)

At a more proximate level, the pop tradition of Greek music started with Rebetiko, and Rebetiko itself is clearly rooted in Smyrneika (Ottoman café music associated with Smyrna/İzmir). The scales and style were clearly Ottoman in the 1920s, although they evolved in more Western directions in Greece, from the 1930s (the Piraeus style) on.

Even before Rebetiko, there was a parallel outright Western pop tradition in Greek music, and the two traditions have mostly remained distinct; rebetiko has turned into Laïko (which in other answers I’ve termed “bouzouki pop”), and Western operettas of the 1910s have given way to rock, R&B stylings, and Euro disco.

Greeks are well aware that their Laiko tradition, and the revered Rebetiko that it comes from, has Turkish roots. Occasionally a nationalist might grouse about, but for the most part they’re happy that they’ve nativised it. It is worth noting that the Rebetiko that there is the most reverence for is not the Smyrneika of the 1920s, but the more nativised Peiraeus style of the 1930s.

With the thaw in Greek–Turkish relations since the 1990s, there has been a lot of traffic of “serious” musicians between the two countries; the Wikipedia article I linked to points out that contemporary performers of Rebetiko, if anything, overemphasise the Turkish style of the music. There has been some traffic of pop songs between the two countries, although that in itself is not remarkable; Arabic and Indian pop songs have also been covered in Greek.

In discussion with Turks on Quora, I’ve found that we understand each others’ music, it is familiar to us—but also that we would not mistake one’s music for the other. One user (and I’m annoyed I don’t remember who: it was in a comment, so good luck searching it) offered to me that there was something more impassioned about Turkish music, and more fatalistic about Greek music (“What can you do? Let’s have an ouzo”). That threw me, but then I realised that what came across to them as fatalistic comes across to me as stern and restrained: that was the contribution of the Piraeus style.