How can a taboo word show friendliness or intimacy when it is inappropriate?

Appropriateness is always relative. We might like to think that there are universal norms applicable to all people and all situations. It simply does not work like that.

Profanity signals intimacy, because it presupposes a level of trust that the addressee will not take offence, and it situates the interlocutors as both being rebels against outsider norms of propriety, which signals solidarity. The same reasoning applies to the old taboos on sex and scatology, and the new taboos on race and sexuality.

How can I use emojis on Quora?

As a teacher, what is the weirdest thing you have seen in your school or classroom?

Back when I was lecturing, I made a consistent effort to be the weirdest thing in the room. If I was running late, I would boom the opening words of my lecture while walking down the corridor into the theatre. I would walk into lecture drinking a Slurpee, and remind students that no eating or drinking was allowed in the theatre. I would reuse my Introduction To Linguistics slides from the previous year, and point out that the essential nature of human language had not altered significantly in the past 12 months. I would intersperse my lecture with random dated pop culture references from the 90s and dad jokes. I opened my first lecture on historical linguistics in Old English. I paced the room, gesticulating and expostulating.

Of course you are not surprised to read this.

I was something of an acquired taste, but I had a mature age student point out to me that during my lectures, you could hear a pin drop.

As a result, and being transfixed by my own antics, I didn’t notice any weird happenings among the students. I had colleagues that did. One colleague noted the incongruity between the couple taking notes above the desk, and what their hands were doing to each other below the desk.

Alas, I was absent the day my peers brought a stripper to scare off the curmudgeonly lecturer during his final Fortran lecture. (It didn’t work. “You are not a student enrolled in this course! Please leave!”) I was there, however, when a group of students performed the Dutch national anthem for our Dutch computer architecture lecture, and the Danish national anthem for our Danish operating systems lecturer.

I was in fact the soloist.

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe ben ik, van Duitsen bloed….

Ed’s Harvest of Blogs

Edward Conway has assembled the following list of Quora blogs, some of which were new to me. Some of these have not been updated in years; some of these are where we get the latest skinny from. All of these, we submit to your attention. Thank you, Edward!

Some of these are tangential…and unfortunately Paul Stockley’s answer to In April 2017, how do you find out which blogs you follow in Quora? means compiling a list is by memory and recent Notifications, as Following a Blog is not listed the way Following a Quoran is…

Official Word of Quora:

Not labeled as official, but often posted to by officials and useful in getting official rulings:

Not official, but used to discuss and share ideas for improving Quora:

Not official, but frequently triggers official comments, discussion, and input:

  • Quora Topic Bot Humor (arguably worth pairing with Topic Gnomery, given how often the “QTB did something silly -> people comment -> QTB staff comments and discusses solutions” scenario plays out there)

Uncertain status:

Will the Greek understand what the words “philistine” and “spartan” mean in the figurative context, in Greek?

I’m reiterating what my fellow Greeks are saying, but to be really really explicit:

  • The metaphorical meaning of Philistine (Φιλισταίοι) to mean someone anti-intellectual is absent from Greek. The typical words would be άξεστος “uncouth”, χωριάτης “peasant”, (learnèd) άμουσος “un-Mused, alien to the muses”, (Turkish) χαϊβάνι “animal”.
  • As Alexandros Gerofotis (Αλέξανδρος Γεροφώτης)’s answer points out, the metaphor that has persisted is λακωνικός “laconic”. People know the stereotype of the uncompromising Spartan,and people would get your meaning (especially if you prefixed it with σωστός “a proper”, which emphasises that it is metaphorical). But they would think “bellicose” or “patriotic” rather than “uncompromising” or “aesthetically bare”.
    • For the latter (“spartan decor”), we use λιτός (as in litotes), the term the Spartans themselves would have used. For the former, αρβανίτης “Arvanite, ethnic Albanian” would be a more up-to-date allusion, but it is also more derogatory. The Venetian loanword ντούρος “upright, unbending” would also work.

Why were the Ionian Greeks called the Ionians Greeks when the Sea of Ionia is on the other side of Greece?

To elaborate on Niko Vasileas’ answer and Michael Anderson’s answer:

Nominative Iōn, Genitive Iōn-os, Adjective Iōn-ikos or Iōn-ios refers to the tribe of Ionians.

Adjective Iŏn-ios refers to the sea, and is traditionally derived from the lover of Zeus, Io (mythology): Nominative , Genitive Ious < *Iŏ-os. Io, transformed into a cow, is supposed to have crossed both the Bosphorus (“ox passage”) and the Ionian Sea, before being restored to human form.

Io (mythology) – Wikipedia: Juno, Jupiter and Io by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout.

Grammatically, I’m not convinced by Io; Sardŏnios ‘Sardonic, Sardinian’ is derived from Sard-ō, -ous “Sardinia”, but Sardō did also have a Sard-ŏnos genitive. So as Nikos says, it’s potentially something else. At any rate, it is unlikely to have anything to do with the Ionian tribe.

Where does Nick Nicholas get the information for his Necrologue?

Almost exclusively from blog readers PM’ing me or emailing me with information, as I request in the blog guidelines. For Quit notices, they are usually the people quitting themselves. Very rarely, I notice someone banned; a little more often, I notice a “why was X banned” question before it gets deleted.

I have no direct or indirect communication line from Quora itself, and I have received no communication from Quora since launching the blog (including a response to my question about whether they had a problem with it).

What movie, or movie scene, scared you the most as a kid?

This is kind of lame (and TV rather than movie), but I guess I had a sheltered upbringing, and I was just six.

1977 was the heyday of Alice Cooper. As a sophisticated adult, I can now appreciate the antics of Alice for what they were, and even stifle a yawn at them. But as an impressionable six-year-old, not so much.

The scene that scared me was nothing about Satan worship, or fans dismembering chickens. It was, of all things, an award show, at the end of which Alice saw fit to pull a gun. The host (was it Dionne Warwick?) shrieked, the credits rolled, and I was terrified that Mayhem had seemingly intruded on the propriety of Hollywood.

Yes, Michaelis Maus, I was already inhabiting The Matrix.

For a couple of years after, Alice Cooper was at the lead of my personal pantheon of hobgoblins. I was scared that he would break into my home and subject me to some unspeakable horror. (I don’t know what that horror would have been; singing School’s out for summer, I expect.) I went so far as to bow my head while in the toilet, convinced that that would prevent Alice from identifying me, and whisking me away to some sort of un-education camp.

I’m pretty sure you couldn’t pull that kind of stunt these days. It truly was a more innocent time.

What is the word similar to “Bingo” or “Hallelujah”, used by Greeks, in modern Greek?

To add some further nuances:

  • When an interlocutor has finally understood something we’ve been hinting at—one of the contexts “Bingo!” is used in English—Greek uses α μπράβο! “Ah, well done”, with the emphasis on the “ah”. Kind of like “there you go”.
  • More exasperated variants of “finally! at last!” (Dimitrios Michmizos’ answer) are έλεος! “Mercy!”, or its Turkish equivalent νισάφι < ınsaf.
  • An expression of relief at something that has dragged on (which is the likeliest experience after a long installation) is ουφ! “phew!”, or αμάν πια! “alas already!”

What do you think about “Naked Attraction”?

I caught a glimpse of it while channel-surfing.

My thoughts:

  • Most of these reality shows are better in the original American: Dating Naked.
  • I find something very trashy and mean about UK Reality TV in general, and this did not appear to be an exception. Once again, the contrast between the American and the UK take on the concept was illuminating.
  • There was little in the way of prurient joy to be had from the show. The UK had destroyed any notion of naked bodies being sexy anyway, through Embarrassing Bodies. (More meanness disguised as a community service.)
  • Useful experiment? Through Reality TV? Useful experiment in what can they possibly come up with next for a ratings hit, I guess.