Why do so many Latin place name words end in “-um” or “-us”?

  1. Because so many Latin nouns do: Why do so many Latin words end in “-um” or “-us”?
  2. Because Latin tended by default to treat place names as normal nouns, and ensure they could be inflected as normal nouns: it linguistically assimilated them if they were not originally Latin.

What exactly is the origin of the “ain’t no” kind of speech/dialect?

Ain’t – Wikipedia

Ain’t is found throughout the English-speaking world across regions and classes, and is among the most pervasive nonstandard terms in English. It is one of two negation features (the other being the double negative) that are known to appear in all nonstandard English dialects.

Take ain’t instead of am/are not, add the double negative, and you’ve got ain’t no. Neither are features of Standard English; both, alone or in combination, are features of pretty much all nonstandard English.

Of the two, amn’t, aren’t > an’t > ain’t happened in the 17th and 18th century—certainly in time for it to travel everywhere English is spoken; ain’t is first attested in writing in 1749 per Wikipedia. The Double negative was present in Middle English, and in wide use in the 17th century. (“Up to the 18th century, double negatives were used to emphasise negation.”)

From what I’m seeing in Wikipedia, both ain’t and the double negative were attacked at the same time by prescription. But they were English-wide phenomena; their association with African American English is simply because African American English was somewhat less subject to prescription than white variants of the language.

Regarding Australian states and territories, say you have a certain word in your state. Have you come across different words in other states that mean the same thing?

Australians desperately hang on to the small lexical differences between States, as you’ll see here, because otherwise Australian English is ludicrously homogeneous geographically. Variation in Australian English – Wikipedia

The names for different sizes of beer glasses (Australian English vocabulary – Wikipedia) is kind of the counterpart to the renowned Eskimo words for snow. (Yes, the jokes do write themselves.) And there is bizarre State-based variation, just as there was beer parochialism in the days before craft beer.

There used to be a similar diversity of words for uncouth and unsophisticated people (yes, again the jokes do write themselves); but they have all been replaced now by Bogan, which has now also come to be reclaimed as a positive.

Where Australia specialises words about beer glasses, Greece specialises words about souvlaki. A döner kebab is a gyros in the South; in the north it’s a sanduits.

The other shibboleth of Northern vs Southern Greek vocabulary is the word for ‘on the ground’. Northern Greek uses the word kato ‘down’ for ‘on the ground’ as well; Southern Greek has retained khamo, khamu for the latter—earning them the moniker khamudzides ‘Down-On-The-Grounders’ from northerners.

See this post on a recent book about the slang differences between the two, written by Haralambos Metaxas, who is also a contributor to the Greek equivalent of Urban Dictionary, slang.gr

Questions on Quora don’t “belong” to the person who asked them, but shouldn’t it matter that the original asker gets a satisfactory answer?

Recall the old, old answer by the then head of Reddit: Yishan Wong’s answer to Why are my questions not answered on Quora?

The fact that it’s a Q&A format is just a hook to make it easier for people to start writing.

Quora is a great place to write answers and to read answers, but it is not a good place to get your own questions answered.

It is true that disregarding the intent of a questioner is, under normal circumstances, assholery. Yes, so are troll questions; but troll questions are not a get-out-of-jail card for this rather idiosyncratic attitude. The attitude is best motivated by this:

Anil Mitra’s answer to Questions on Quora don’t “belong” to the person who asked them, but shouldn’t it matter that the original asker gets a satisfactory answer?

If a sincere questioner wants Quorans to respond to their intent, they should state their intent directly. This does not always happen. But if, in stating their intent directly, they limit the scope of their question they are limiting the usefulness of the site.

The premise of Quora is not answering questions, it’s treating questions as springboards for formulating knowledge. Questions people actually need narrow and usable answers to, with a time limit no less, are not the kinds of question that will get much joy here. They’re not what Quora is looking for, and they haven’t cultivated the kind of community that would answer in those terms.

But still. That’s no excuse for not trying to work out what the OP’s intent was in good faith, and dismissing their intent; Quora policy in fact dictates this. Phrases such as “this is obviously a troll question” are in fact reportable under BNBR. (How widely is that known?)

The satisfaction of the person matters; if they follow up and say, “what I was actually after was…”, I will engage with them. But the way Quora is set up, it’s not mandatory; I have in fact sometimes said that I would ignore the specifics of a question’s details to give a more general answer.

How long would it take linguists to decode a language like Lojban if no speakers or reference grammar existed, but several original texts did?

Great answer from Roman Huczok: see Roman Huczok’s answer.

Getting an undeciphered text with no Rosetta stone is, as Roman said, hard work, though not impossible. The question is after the peculiarities of Lojban which would make the decipherment harder—particularly given the whole exoticism that Lojban claims to, of encoding predicate logic as something quite alien to human language.

I’ll retort that the way actual humans use it, the predicate logic component is not that big a deal: you can still clearly see human verbs behind it. (The way Lojban predicates avoid raising by default is somewhat more odd.)

I’ll suggest the following as things that would trip up a would-be decipherer:

  • The compounding morphology of Lojban—which is both its derivational morphology and its compounding proper—is eccentric: lots of three-letter reduced forms, which only occasionally remind you of their original five-letter predicates. The decipherer will easily tell that they are a distinct word class because of their phonotactics, but working out that they are compounds will take longer.
  • The terminators—the spoken bracketing of Lojban—are not a human language thing, and the conditions of ambiguity which make them optional aren’t human either. A decipherer might work out that they coocurr with certain syntactic structures, but would be likelier to construe them as attitudinals (modal particles).
  • Because of Lojban’s stick-them-in-a-blender approach to the core predicates, the tools of historical linguistics or inspection will be pretty useless in deciphering them. In fact, apart from le, la, lo, na, mi, I don’t think inspection would yield up anything.
  • The use of numbered predicate places instead of prepositions—the tritransitive and quadritransitive predicates, the strategies for rearranging arguments, the relative paucity of actual prepositions—would throw a decipherer as well.
Answered 2017-05-13 · Upvoted by

André Müller, doing his PhD in linguistics about language contact in Burma

Does the Greek syllable “καθ…” at the beginning of so many Greek words have any significance or meaning?

As others have mentioned, kath– is a variant of kata as a prepositional prefix to verbs and verbal nouns. The meaning of kata– as a preposition in compounds is captured in Herbert Weir Smyth, A Greek Grammar for Colleges:

Down from above (καταπίπτειν fall down), back (καταλείπειν leave behind), against, adversely (καταγιγνώσκειν condemn, decide against, καταφρονεῖν despise), completely (καταπετροῦν stone to death, κατεσθίειν eat up), often with an intensive force that cannot be translated. An intransitive verb when compounded with κατά may become transitive.

Are there any external accounts of the Romans? Roman historians wrote extensively about the peoples they conquered or interacted with, giving a fascinating insight into their lives from a Roman’s perspective. But how were Romans seen by others?

There’s not much to read, apart from the Greeks’ accounts. The peoples to the north were not literate; the Carthaginians did not do history, and their accounts would have been wiped anyway. The main other source of external accounts I could think of would be Persians; and nothing from the Sassanids survives, though some Persian accounts were based on their accounts. (Roman–Persian Wars – Wikipedia)

Answered 2017-05-13 · Upvoted by

Lyonel Perabo, B.A. in History. M.A in related field (Folkloristics)