What is the best Greek restaurant in Melbourne?

The Press Club mentioned in other answers (which are now a few years old) is the flagship of celebrity restauranteur George Calombaris, and was at the forefront of nouveau Greek cuisine. Calombaris was into molecular gastronomy before he was into nouveau Greek, and you could tell: there was tzatziki ice cream to be had.

The Press Club was astonishing in the mid 2000s: every dish a surprise. By the time I last went there, before it closed for refurbishment (and to be shrunk to a third of its size and three times the already inflated prices), it had become a disappointment. I haven’t been to the new place (though I have been to the 2/3 of the restaurant that now serves nouveau Greek street food, trading as Gazi.)

Of the nouveau Greek places, I’d name Hellenic Republic, which Calombaris also runs. It’s not as experimental, but it’s good quality.

I have not checked out the nouveau Cretan place Elyros Restaurant yet. Got to get around to that.

The problem with old school Greek places is that the quality is very often lacking. Especially if they are meat platter joints or tavernas. Most places in Oakleigh, Melbourne’s Greektown, are not to be recommended. (Although at least at Kalimera you’ll get an actual Greek-style souvlaki, and I was impressed by the same owners’ Mykonos taverna.)

There is a hidden jewel in Oakleigh though. Literally hidden: it’s up a flight of stairs around the corner from Eaton Mall; you have to know of it to pop up there.

Mezedakia. Good Greek home cooking, utterly unreconstructed, utterly what mama used to cook, and utterly delicious. No souvlaki platters, and no tzatziki ice cream. Ask for the revani ahead of time. (What is it on Wikipedia? Oh: Basbousa.)

What are the cons of having a large number of followers on Quora?

Most decidedly what Alexander Lee’s answer, says, the notifications.

Smart Filter? Yeah, like I’m going to trust Quora to filter our what I don’t want to see.

In addition, the deluge of A2As, particularly if you can’t stand to be ruthless and blip them all off. They malinger for weeks, and they malinger all the worse when they’re below your event horizon, in the “other” instead of the “most recent” category.

Like this one was, Martin 🙂

Having a sense of responsibility towards your readership is definitely a downside others have reported, but that is going to be subjective. I feel weighed down by my responsibilities to the readership of The Insurgency or Necrologue; I don’t feel weighed down by my 3k followers.

Mostly because I only actually know a tuthree hundred of them. That is a downside though; after the first 500 followers, they all fade into an undifferentiated mass of new followers, that you simply don’t have the capacity to pay especial attention to individually. That, you just let go of; if you happen to notice one or another in interactions, fine, else, also fine.

What are some of the must know linguistic theories for any linguistics student?

Add to Andrew Noe’s answer:

  • For historical linguistics, Uniformitarianism. (Yes, I know the link describes the geological version of that hypothesis.) The notion that human language in the past worked pretty much the same way as human language works now.
  • For structuralism, as an underpinning of how we do linguistics in general: the Arbitrariness of the sign: the fact that language is mostly autonomous of the things it describes.
  • For syntax, if you learn nothing else, configurationality: the notion that phrase structure rules work to describe the syntax of language, that words group together to form distinct constituents. Especially fun because of the contortions syntacticians go through to account for Non-configurational languages.
  • For pragmatics, Speech act theory, accounting for language not as a mere conveying of meaning, but as agents trying to get things done in the world.
Answered 2017-08-14 · Upvoted by

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

Was there any famous Greeks called Alexander before the 1900s besides Alexander the Great?

Is klezmer music a dying tradition?

One of its prominent proponents is on record as saying so:


Andy Statman, one of the foremost Klezmer musicians in the world, knows that the time of Klezmer has passed.

“Each music has its point,” He explained over the phone while working at a Mandolin camp in California. “[Klezmer] is still alive, but in many ways it doesn’t really represent a living community. While it’s still alive and it’s great music and people enjoy it… It’s not a reflection of the time.”


About the future of Klezmer, Statman said it wasn’t bittersweet.

“Like bluegrass [music], it’s from a time and place,” he said. “It changed and the music was moving on to become something else. That’s the way it is. Styles come and go. They reflect the lives and the people who are involved in them… Each day is new.”

Klezmer is dead, or alive, in the same way I guess that Rebetiko is dead, or alive. The social circumstances that gave rise to it aren’t there any more. Any performance of it is a revival, a repurposing of the genre to current concerns—all tangled up with anxiety about authenticity, which guarantees that it won’t respond fully to current concerns. At its worse, it’s an artificial museum-like exercise. At its best, it gets the crowds dancing in the aisles one last time.

Rebetiko was revived in the 70s in Greece, because something in it spoke to Greeks, as they were at the threshold of becoming Europeans. Klezmer was revived in the 80s in America, because something in it spoke to Jews, as they were at the threshold of becoming either fully assimilated, or (as was the case with Statman) rediscovering Orthodox Judaism.

Rebetiko and Klezmer had, in fact, already died:

Klezmer is the Eastern European musical tradition passed down from one generation to the next. (“It’s basically Chasidic music,” Statman said.) The exact history of the music was unknown to him, save for the fact that when Statman began playing Klezmer, it had almost been gone.

“A lot of where the music was played didn’t make it out,” he said. “Russia, Galicia, a lot of Chasidim. I think not only the Holocaust but there was more of an interest in preserving Judaism and the community. Music was not such a pressing concern.”

Vamvakaris at least kept playing in the 50s and 60s, but he was no longer the main show.

A revival is never as vibrant as the original; it’s always qualified and unspontaneous. There’s always something artificial about it.

Still. It’s better than utter oblivion. And damn, but there’s some good toe-tapping to be had in that museum…

Is Yiddish a Semitic or a Indo-European language?

The answer has been given by Anthony Thompson’s answer and Chrys Jordan’s answer. I’m going to spell out a bit more the general principles at work.

Fitting language history into a tree structure requires some simplifying assumptions. In particular, you have to be able to assume that a language has a single parent proto-language (otherwise it’s no longer a tree). You also have to assume a difference between the guts of the language and the minor add-ons of a language. Japanese may have borrowed the word anime from English, but that does not mean Japanese is related to English. Usually, you can differentiate borrowed words from a core vocabulary, and ignore the former when determining language relations. The “guts” of a language also includes how its grammar works.

The tree model was not unanimously accepted when proposed, and there was a rival Wave model of language change, which allows for shades of gray. There are languages which have been massively relexified (much of their core vocabulary is also borrowed), or whose grammar has been profoundly influenced by neighbouring languages in Sprachbunds. Fitting such hybrid languages to the tree model is problematic. The same goes for pidgins and creoles.

There are many languages that you would have trouble fitting to a tree model of affiliation. Yiddish is not such a language. The fact that it uses Hebrew script, is is spoken by Jews, and has a substantial layer of loans from Hebrew and Aramaic do not change the fact that its “guts” are still Germanic.

Answered 2017-08-14 · Upvoted by

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

I have a 10 minute meeting with the Australian Prime Minister. What should I ask him?

Question details indicate that the original OP is “in my final year of high school in rural Western Australia.”

This humbled me out of the smart-aleck answer I was going to give; Ben Kelley’s answer is excellent for this serious aim.

Without that context?

“Mal. Mal, Mal, Mal. Come on, mate. Just between you and me. What’ll it take for you to form a centrist party with Nick Xenophon? You know you want to.”

… Am I throwing away my chance to get a serious answer to a pressing question? Yes, I am. Mal is not the master of his own party, any more than the Australian PM is the master of his own country. Geopolitics doesn’t work like that any more.

I hate The West Wing. I hate The West Wing for many reasons, most of them involving Josh. I liked Season #5 most, the season everyone else hated, because it was the season that bitch-slapped the cast, and especially Josh. (That’s also why I liked Ryan the intern, the character everyone else hated.)

Remember those IT workers in #519 Talking Points who did a sit-in in Josh’s office, because they’d been shafted out of Bartlett’s election pledge that their jobs in IT were safe? And Josh went pleading to Bartlett to no effect? That’s Bartlett, who embraced Creative destruction—the notion that, in real life, made Trump possible. Josh, campaigning two years later for that pointless cipher Santos, was making the same undertakings on the campaign trail. You weren’t meant to notice that, but I did. God, did I want Josh fricking Lyman eviscerated on the spot.

Anyway, what did Bartlett say when Josh said “we promised these guys jobs?”

There was a man named Canute, one of the great Viking kings of the 11th Century. Wanted his people to be aware of his limitations, so he led them down to the sea and he commanded that the tide roll out. It didn’t. Who gave us the notion that Presidents can move the economy like a play-toy?

The candidates for the presidency did while campaigning, actually. And for economy, read also geopolitics, and climate change, and whatever other great challenges facing humanity that we’re going to flub.

And that’s why I wouldn’t ask a serious question of Turnbull. Or whoever else is residing in The Lodge this month.

And I hope my cynicism doesn’t rub off on OP…

How is the Dené-Caucasian theory considered among serious linguists?

I knew linguists that had worked with long-rangers (those who propose wide-ranging linguistic affiliations); I have in fact met the late Sergei Starostin, proofread contributions by John Bengtson, and read issues of Mother Tongue (journal). I even have a quote from Mother Tongue as one of my .sigs, though not approvingly:

“Assuming, for whatever reasons, that neither scholar presented the evidence properly, then there remains a body of evidence you have not yet destroyed because it has never been presented.” — Harold Fleming

Spot the logical fallacy. The quote actually was trying to defend a link between Basque and Caucasian languages, which is part of the Dené–Caucasian hypothesis.

Dené–Caucasian languages – Wikipedia

Dené–Caucasian is a proposed broad language family that includes the Sino-Tibetan, Northeastern Caucasian, Na-Dené, Yeniseian, Vasconic (including Basque) and Burushaski language families. A connection specifically between Na-Dené and Yeniseian (Dené–Yeniseian languages hypothesis) was proposed by Edward Vajda in 2008, and has met with some acceptance.

The validity of the rest of the family, however, is controversial or viewed as doubtful by most historical linguists.

Dené–Yeniseian languages is new to me (of course, since I was reading long-range reconstructions in the 1990s), and I’ll come back to it.

The majority opinion in historical linguistics is to mistrust long-range linguistic families, because the number of correspondences those families are based on is increasingly tenuous, and the amount of noise introduced by the great chronological distance overwhelms the signal of possible links.

When long-range reconstruction tries to use the traditional methodology that gave us Indo-European, as with Nostratic languages (trying to find commonality between Indo-European and its neighbours), the majority opinion is sometimes polite, but almost always unconvinced. Particularly when those families are instead based on eyeballing, the majority opinion simply does not want to know.

Long-range advocates defend eyeballing by the fact that Joseph Greenberg used eyeballing to work out the linguistic history of Africa. But his proposals only can get confirmed by detailed comparative work (just as the periodic table needed to wait on subatomic particles for its workings to be understood); and unsurprisingly the linguists who are sceptical about long-range comparison in general, such as Lyle Campbell, are sceptical about his work on Africa too.

When it comes to American Indian languages, we have poor historical records, and congenitally cautious historical linguists (such as Campbell) combining to refuse to reduce the number of American Indian language families below 150. Now, obviously, there weren’t 150 different waves of migration across the Bering Strait: those language families are quite likely all related. Greenberg thought they are almost all related as Amerind, again by eyeballing. But most Amerindianists don’t see enough convincing data there to call Amerind a family.

There are two indigenous language families in the Americas that Greenberg did not think could be lumped in as Amerind: Eskimo–Aleut languages, and Na-Dené languages. The best known languages of Na-Dene are Apache and Navajo; but the bulk of the Na-Dené languages are spoken in Western Canada and Alaska:

And Na-Dené may (may) reflect a distinct wave of migration into America: Settlement of the Americas – Wikipedia says “The interior route is consistent with the spread of the Na Dene language group and Subhaplogroup X2a into the Americas after the earliest paleoamerican migration.”

And if the Na-Dené are a distinct, later wave of migration, then we might (might) be able to find related languages on the other side of the Bering Strait.

The linguists behind Dené-Caucasian are Russians of the Nostratic school, not Americans of the eyeballing school. But it’s a big family: it includes North-Eastern Caucasian (of which Chechen is the language you’re likeliest to have heard of), Sino-Tibetan (which includes Chinese), Burushaski (an isolate in Pakistan which lots of linguists would like to connect to something), Yeniseian (a language family in central Siberia), and, alas, Basque, which everyone wants to try to connect to something.

There’s extensive discussion of the pros and cons to Dené-Caucasian over at Wikipedia. The proposal, like Nostratic, does try to do things by the book, which is laudable. But it relies on comparing proto-languages, which are themselves reconstructions; and that is risky business, given how uncertain the reconstructions are; if you switch reconstructions (e.g. the reconstruction of Sino-Tibetan or North Caucasian), it falls apart. And given the ginormous number of consonants in Caucasian, any reconstruction of North-Eastern Caucasian is going to be fragile.

The news to me was that the more recent proposal of Dené-Yeniseian, lining Na-Dene to the Yeniseian languages in central Siberia, has not been shouted down:

It helps rhetorically that its proponent Edward Vajda has dismissed an earlier eyeballing-based proposal of Dené-Yeniseian as based on coincidence. I hate to say it, but it may also have helped that he’s American and not Russian. But a lot of Western linguists have lined up since to say that his proposal sounds plausible—a lot more than have ever said anything nice about Nostratic. (Lyle Campbell of course has continued to do his Lyle Campbell thing and be sceptical.)

And if you’re going to link Na-Dené with a group of languages the other side of the Bering Strait, Yeniseian looks somehow… safer than Yeniseian + Sino-Tibetan + Northeastern Caucasian + Burushaski + Basque.

Answered 2017-08-14 · Upvoted by

Logan R. Kearsley, MA in Linguistics from BYU, 8 years working in research for language pedagogy.

How come most Pontic Greeks that went to Greece in 1923, were working for the Greek left and KGB spies for the Soviet Union?

This is an incendiary and attention-seeking claim, with an eensy-weensy tiny kernel of truth to it.

The refugees from Turkey after 1922 (and that’s not just Pontic Greeks, but Western Asia Minor Greeks and Cappadocian Greeks too) were dispossessed and impoverished. They gravitated to the left and the Communist Party.

As a lot of dispossessed and impoverished people tend to do.

If some of them adopted communism so fervently as to become spies for the KGB, that would be plausible—but for the fact that the KGB was not called the KGB until 1954, by which time the Greek Communist Party leadership had been exiled to Tashkent, and the Communist Party driven underground. Would the Greek Communist Party of the 30s have loyally provided some intelligence to the OGPU, KGB’s predecessor of the time? I guess. And would some of them have been Pontic Greeks? I guess. *shrug*

Which is as polite as I can be about this question.

How come Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia were not islamised (for the most part), but Albania, Bosnia, and Turkey were?

This short version of the answer is:

  • The pre-Ottoman Emirates that ruled Asia Minor encouraged missionary activity.
  • Once Constantinople was conquered, the Millet system was put in place, granting confessional communities autonomy. So long as the Christians provided taxes and troops, the Ottoman Empire was not particularly interested in converting them.
  • Albania and Bosnia were an exception, and Islamisation was pursued there to quash ongoing rebellions.

Several answers on related questions provide further detail.