Why is Hermione pronounced like her-MY-on-ne in English? Does it follow the rules? It doesn’t seem phonetic, and the Greek is probably different.

It follows the rules alright. They’re just rules that have nothing to do with the original Greek.

Traditional English pronunciation of Latin – Wikipedia

In the middle of a word, a vowel followed by more than one consonant is short, as in Hermippe /hərˈmɪpiː/ hər-MIP-ee, while a vowel with no following consonant is long.

Hence, Hĕrmīone. (Long and short as in Modern English spelling: long i = [aj].)

Endings: … The first class consists of vowels alone, i.e. -a, -e, -æ, -i, -o, -u, -y. In this class, the vowels are generally long, but -a is always /ə/.

Hence, Hĕrmīo.

Latin stress is predictable. It falls on the penultimate syllable when that is “heavy“, and on the antepenultimate syllable when the penult is “light”. … A syllable is “light” if it ends in a single short vowel.

Hence, Hĕr-mī´-o-.

However, when a vowel is followed by a single consonant (or by a cluster of p, t, c/k plus l, r) and then another vowel, it gets more complicated.

  • If the syllable is unstressed, it is open, and the vowel is often reduced to schwa.

Hence, Hĕr-mī´-ŏ, [hɜɹˈmajəniː]. As opposed to the Ancient Greek [hermiónɛː], or the Modern Greek [ermiˈoni].

Answered 2017-06-18 · Upvoted by

Heather Jedrus, speech-language pathologist

Which Turkish words adopted by the languages in the Ottoman territories have been most grammatically productive (in those languages)?

I’m not proud to bring up puşt “bottom, male homosexual on the receiving end of anal sex, faggot”, because homophobia is not something to be proud of. But the word has certainly been productive in Greek, as you might expect of an insult.

From the Triantafyllidis Dictionary: Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής

  • pustis ‘faggot’ (used as insult; used as admiration of someone cunning; used as informal friendly address)
  • Diminutives: pustraki, pustrakos
  • Augmentatives: pustara, pustaros
  • Feminine (used mostly of men): pustra
  • pustario ‘group, collective of pustis
  • pustia ‘dishonourable conduct’
    • Diminutive: pustitsa
  • pustikos ‘adjective of pustis
  • Prefix:
    • pustoɣeros ‘derogatory term for old man’
    • pustoferno ‘to act like a pustis

From SLANG.gr, omitting clearly nonce jocular coinings:

  • pustrilikia, pustlukia (literally faggothoods, with Turkish suffix): ‘sexual insults’
  • pustevo, pustrevo ‘to become gay; to become degenerate, effete’
  • xepustevo (‘faggoting out’): ‘to cry out with joy in an effeminate manner’
  • pustriði ‘insulting diminutive of pustis
  • pustarikos ‘affectionate diminutive of pustis, someone not fully sexually aware’ (portmanteau with pitsirikos ‘kid’)
  • pustosini ‘gayness, gaydom’; deliberately grandiose-sounding, by analogy with ðesposini ‘majesty’, romiosini ‘Greekdom’
  • pustraðiko ‘gay shop, gay establishment = Mykonos’
  • Lots and lots of prefix instances; puštokalamaras ‘faggot penpusher’ deserves prominence as the default derogatory term Cypriot Greeks apply to Greece Greeks. (‘penpusher’, because they speak Official Greek as distinct from Cypriot dialect.)
  • Lots and lots of suffix instances; e.g. xeftilopusta ‘laughing-stock pustis’, poniropustas ‘cunning pustis’, trambukopustas ‘thug pustis
  • If I can be allowed one jocular coinage from slang.gr: [h]eteropustas ‘metrosexual’

What’s it like to study for a master’s in applied linguistics at the University of Melbourne?

Been A2A’d, but alas, I went through the general linguistics programme 20 years ago, and I haven’t stayed in touch.

Some generalities:

  • Melbourne Uni has the Language Testing Research Centre, which means that Language Testing is one of the core strengths of the department.
  • The department also has three ESL specialists.
  • The department includes Tim Macnamara, who is a reasonably big name, and Paul Gruba and Carsten Roever, who I have found affable and clever.
  • The applied linguists and the theoretical linguists got yoked together 20 years ago, while I was there. The two halves didn’t have much to talk to each other about back then, and I doubt they do now either.
    • Alastair Pennycook was in the applied program during my time. Alastair is a huge name in the politics of World Englishes. As far as I was concerned though, he was this odd Scotsman who would debate with me whether my teal jacket was blue or green.
  • Melbourne Uni in general is a great place to study…
    • … but it can be complacent on its laurels; do talk to people from other universities if you can.
  • The MA in Applied Linguistics is coursework and minor thesis, and always has been. From the perspective of a PhD student in general linguistics, there were gajillions of you, you did a lot of coursework, and you weren’t as hippy and eccentric as we liked to think we were. Large overseas student representation among them.
    • I’m saying that to indicate that I’m not really the right person to A2A. 🙂

What’s an extremely special gift that I can give my Biology teacher?

Get someone to write a scroll in Chinese calligraphy, with a culturally appropriate saying on how important teachers are. I’m seeing Chinese calligraphy offered at Upwork at $18/hr.

What if when it’s time to go to school my son speaks only Klingon and I refuse to teach him English? Would it be considered child abuse or something?

For a less emotive response, let us substitute Klingon with Norwegian, outside of Norway.

It is not child abuse to bring up your kid to speak only Norwegian in Australia. As another respondent said, if they arrive at primary school with no English, they will pick up English pretty quickly at school. As is the case for countless immigrant kids. And if the kids socialize at all outside the home, or watch TV, they will have picked up English anyway.

So the issue is not depriving a child with access to English.

Let’s substitute Norwegian with Esperanto, or Latin. There are, after all, something like 1000 native speakers of Esperanto. Have these kids been subjected to child abuse?

I mean, sure, their peers will think it’s weird and they will make fun of them. Their peers also made fun of the immigrant kids who ate weird food and looked different. And by all accounts, kids brought up speaking Esperanto end up perfectly well adjusted, although not many of them retain an interest in the language. Peer pressure is effective, after all.

And as I have said in a different answer, I’ve cyberstalked the kid who was brought up to speak Klingon (and lost interest), and I found a picture of him as a teenager in a mosh pit. I’m not worried about his long-term socialisation.

So what in this scenario makes people so aghast at Klingon? I’ve heard the child abuse accusation from professional linguists too. But a kid is hardly going to sustain brain damage from a language that violates a couple of phonological universals. No one should be taking Chomsky that seriously. If a kid can deal with a pidgin as linguistic input, and come up with a creole, they can certainly deal with Klingon. Not to mention, any Klingon that a parent would produce day to day would not be all that alien.

The only rationale for a claim of child abuse would be fear of difference and fear of unconventionality. Hippies have done far worse to kids.

What does the term “turn turk” mean and how did it originate?

‘Turn turk’ in the Renaissance meant to convert to Islam. The Turks were the Muslims that the English had the most contact with, through the Ottoman Empire.

A Christian Turn’d Turk (1612) is a play by the English dramatist Robert Daborne. It concerns the conversion of the pirate John Ward to Islam.

Because of the entrenched association of peoples until recent times with religion, changing religion was broadly regarded as betraying one’s core principles, and being literally faithless, renegade. It is so used, metaphorically, in Shakespeare:

  • [Hamlet, Hamlet to Horatio] if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me (if my fortune betrays me)
  • [Much Ado About Nothing, Margaret to Beatrice] an you be not turned Turk, there’s no more sailing by the star. (Margaret alludes to the fact that Beatrice has fallen in love with Benedick, despite her protestations: as complete a change as someone converting to Islam)

Hence, surprisingly enough, an accurate definition in, of all places, Urban Dictionary: to turn turk:

To turn turk is to be a twat and back stab people

Bad that lad didn’t expect him to turn turk on you

Chambers’ Twentieth Century Dictionary adds: “to go to the bad: to become hopelessly obstinate”. The value judgement of Islam = bad is what you’d expect from a majority Christian culture; the obstinacy is surprising, unless it is the generic obstinacy of a renegade.

What are some of the strangest loanwords in your language?

For Modern Greek:

  • parea ‘group of people hanging out socially’. Either our solitary Catalan loan, or one of our few Ladino loans, from parea (Spanish pareja) ‘couple’. The Catalan etymology is seductive, as it involves the Catalan Company, a parea marauding the Greek countryside.
  • tsonta ‘porn film’. From Venetian zonta ‘joined on’ (Italian giunta); originally meant ‘freebie, lagniappe, baker’s dozen’. Which tells you a lot about Greek cinema practice in the 50s, and their male audiences.
  • teknó ‘toyboy, twink’. From Romani tiknó ‘small child’, via Kaliarda, the Romani-based Greek gay secrecy language, influenced by Church Greek téknon ‘(spiritual) child’.
  • varvatos ‘macho, manly’. From Latin barbatus ‘bearded’.
  • glamouria ‘glamour (sarcastically), flashiness’. From English glamour (itself ultimately from Greek grammatikē via Scots), + the colloquial suffix –ja ‘a strike of something’.
  • zamanfou ‘indifference, complacency’. From French je m’en fous ‘I don’t give a fuck’. Also zamanfoutistas ‘I don’t give a fuck-ist’, zamanfoutismos ‘I don’t give a fuck-ism’.

I cannot see the message option in front of someone’s profile. How do I message them?

If someone does not have the Message link on their profile, they have blocked messaging—which is their right. If you want to communicate with them, leave them a comment. Unless they’ve disabled those too, in which case, all you can do is move on.

How come rude is not pronounced as /rjuːd/?

It used to; the [j] was regularly dropped after certain consonants:

Phonological history of English consonant clusters – Wikipedia

The change of [ɪ] to [j] in these positions (as described above) produced some clusters which would have been difficult or impossible to pronounce; this led to what John Wells calls Early Yod Dropping, in which the [j] was elided in the following environments:

  • After /ʃ, tʃ, dʒ/, for example chute /ʃuːt/, chew /tʃuː/, juice /dʒuːs/
  • After /j/, for example yew /juː/ (compare [jɪʊ̯] in some conservative dialects)
  • After /r/, for example rude /ruːd/
  • After stop+/l/ clusters, for example blue /bluː/

Apparently Welsh and some other dialects kept [ju] as [ɪu], did not undergo yod dropping, and as a result they pronounce chews /tʃɪʊ̯z/ and choose /tʃuːz/ differently. I can’t tell from Wikipedia whether that extends to rude being pronounced as ree-ood.

Do you think “homo prospectus” would be a more accurate title for humans than “Homo sapiens”?

The claim, Googling tells me, comes from Homo Prospectus (2016), by Martin Seligman et al. Its programmatic claim is that:

Our species is misnamed. Though sapiens defines human beings as “wise” what humans do especially well is to prospect the future. We are homo prospectus.

If the title is to be more accurate, then we would need to concede that (a) humans are not necessarily more ‘wise’ than chimps or dolphins or crows, and more importantly (b) that what is distinctive about human intelligence is the ability to envision a future, a mental model of time.

The attribute that usually gets brought up as unique to human intelligence is self-awareness. Googling tells me that George Herbert Mead, at least, made much of awareness of the future as part of the human mind’s ability to reflect on its self, as a defining attribute of human intelligence. (https://books.google.com.au/book…)

So, maybe? At least one psychologist seems to have thought so. Animals do plan for the future; I gather it’s still controversial to what extent they have a mental model of the future.

And thanks for the vote of confidence in A2A’ing me, Rynnah. That was a lot of googling and guesswork. 🙂