Why does the Greek “αγγε” transliterate to “ange” and not “agge” in English?

Ah, a Modern Greek perspective in the question details.

I answered the corresponding Ancient Greek question at Nick Nicholas’ answer to Why has the word συγγεής two γ? I know it comes from σύν + γεν, and that later the ν disappeared, but why putting two γ? And why has the ν disappeared at the certain point in history?


  • The velar nasal /ŋ/ is not identical to the alveolar/dental nasal /n/. It is, if you like, a cross between a /ɡ/ and an /n/.
  • English, Latin, and many other languages have chosen to write it as an <n> before a <g>.
  • Ancient Greek instead chose to write it as a <g> before a a velar: <gk, gch, gg>.
    • Which is not absurd, given that the sound is a cross between a /ɡ/ and an /n/.
  • Ancient Greek had geminated voiceless stops; /kk/, /pp/, /tt/. It did not have geminated voiced stops; any words with /dd/ or /bb/ are not native Greek words. So there was never any risk of orthographical <gg> being interpreted as [ɡɡ] instead of [ŋɡ].
  • Modern Greek uses Ancient Greek historical orthography, so it was not going to respell the sound if it survived unchanged from antiquity. It still spells it as a <g> in front of a velar.
  • So yes, it would indeed be strange to write Angelopoulos as <Angelopoulos>, Ανγελόπουλος. Standard Greek Orthography never has (though I think Soviet Greek orthography, which was phonetic, did).

In addition:

  • Modern Greek pronounces <gk> and <gg> (historical [ŋk], [ŋɡ]) identically as [ŋɡ]. Just as it universally pronounces <nt> as [nd] and <mp> as [mb].
  • Many Modern Greek dialects, and increasingly Standard Modern Greek, pronounce <gk>, <gg> (historical [ŋk], [ŋɡ]) as just [ɡ], dropping the initial nasal—just as they have done with orthographical <nt>, <mp>. So the usual pronunciation of the name Angelopoulos is actually [aɟelopulos] anyway (palatalised g). One more reason why it would not occur to anyone to write it with an <n>.

After “Quora auf Deutsch” what is the next language Quora will target?

There has been some excellent speculation here on what guides the business decision by Quora on what languages to target:

In fact at that point in time (last month), the question What other languages should Quora support? overlapped with this. (Let’s keep it separate though.)

D’Angelo has said publicly that he’s not going after the Mainland Chinese market, which is hard for American companies to break into. (Even if Zhihu wasn’t already established, China would create it just so Quora wouldn’t get a foothold.) Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora are not going to be enough to sustain Quora in Chinese.

The factors in play are:

  • cultural bias of VCs funding this (me)
  • market niche opportunity (me, Josephine Stefani)
  • googlability opportunity (Clarissa Lohr)—external searchers via Google being more critical for profitability than registered users

The factors are I believe of increasing importance from top to bottom.

  • Cultural bias: Eurocentric, Islamophobic, and maybe still dismissive of Orkut: next up is Russian, maybe Portuguese.
  • Market niche opportunity: Bigger markets: Arabic, Portuguese or Russian. (TheQuestion in Russian may be too well entrenched a competitor already.) Regional niches: Malay/Indonesian, Persian, Swahili. (Hindi not enough of a competitive niche, given the widespread use of English.)
  • Googlability: Clarissa identified that anyone who is likely to register on Quora already knows English well; but lots of people google in German, including those not confident in English. I’m not sure which market the Googles pick up most, but I suspect it’s Russian and Arabic.

My guess from all the above: unless they’re spooked by TheQuestion, and their VCs still hold a grudge against Orkut, Eurocentrism will again prevail, bolstered by the googlability argument: Russian and Portuguese.