When was the uncial Greek script adapted and abandoned?

Thx for A2A. Being lazy, I refer you to An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography : Thompson, Edward Maunde, Sir, 1840-1929 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive . From what he says (with nice photos for 1912), the uncial starts in codices 3rd century AD, but is anticipated in papyri in the 2nd century. It survives up until the introduction of lowercase in the 9th century, although by the 8th century it already looks less like Uncial, and more like Cyrillic (which is of course why Cyrillic looks the way it does: it was the Greek handwriting of the time).

Bonus anecdote.

The introduction of lowercase was a disruptive technology much like printing or digitisation or the cloud, and it resulted in the wholesale discarding of earlier, bulkier majuscle manuscripts. There is a cute story relating to the manuscript history of the Vita of St Andrew The Fool (Andrew of Constantinople).

The Vita purports to have been written in the 6th century, but there are enough anachronisms to suspect it was actually written in the 9th. The editor of the text Lennart Ryden found a single leaf of the text, used as padding in the spine of a later manuscript. It was in all capital letters, but they were 9th century capital letters — which was odd, because by then lowercase had been invented, so noone would be writing in all caps.

Ryden thinks that the leaf was from the original manuscript. The author wanted to pass it off as a 6th century text — from when people wrote in all caps; but he didn’t realise that the uppercase he was familiar with in the 9th century had changed from what was used in the 6th century. The forgery was so successful, that the original manuscript was copied into normal lowercase — and thrown out; that’s how a stray leaf ended up as padding.

Etymologist Walter William Skeat has said that 12,960 English words  in the book ” An etymological dictionary of the English language” are from Tamil language.Does this support the view that Tamil is the most probable root of English ?

Nope. The book is here An etymological dictionary of the English language : Skeat, Walter W. (Walter William), 1835-1912 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive, and Tamil seems to be mentioned in only 9 entries. If anyone was going to dispute the Indo-European affiliation of English, it certainly wasn’t going to be Walter William Skeat, the main and mainstream philologist of his day.

Do I need permission from any one to publish a story book in Klingon? Will it violates any copy right law? The stories are non sci-fi.

You and I may think it is absurd to copyright languages; unfortunately Paramount doesn’t, and has forced someone to pulp their Klingon Martial Arts manual in Klingon.

The safe thing to do is to approach the Klingon Language Institute (Page on kli.org): Paramount have designated them as a licensed user of the language, so they can publish text in Klingon safely.

EDIT: looks like the long awaited lawsuit is finally happening. Paramount v Axanar 2-15-cv-09938 CD CA 2016-04-27 35-1 – Brief of Amicus Curiae.pdf

Why is it that when I’m typing using the Cyrillic alphabet, if I turn on italics, the letters change?

Cyrillic italic originates in cursive. Greek, Cyrillic, and Latin cursive all look quite different from vanilla print versions of the alphabets; it’s only in Cyrillic that the print italic version of the alphabet is based on cursive. (You could argue that Latin italic is based on handwriting, but not on Cursive as we understand it. And given that Latin cursive ended up in German as Sütterlin, that’s just as well.)

Added bonus: there is regional variation in Cyrillic cursives, and hence Cyrillic italics; г italicised looks completely different in Russian and Serbian/Macedonian (Macedonian alphabet). This is a problem for Unicode Cyrillic: you need to specify the language explicitly to get the right forms.

How did the languages in countries like Papua New Guinea (which has the most languages) get verified and who does it?

The main game in town for documenting languages in PNG are SIL International  . I think they do Lexicostatistics to establish what counts as a language. There is the potential for error, as most data is gathered by missionaries rather than academic linguists; but any differentiation between dialect and language is leaky anyway. From memory, the sources did routinely identify dialects within the claimed languages; so it wasn’t a case of lazily calling every village a different language, and I don’t remember the languages looking particularly close. (Unless they’re Oceanic languages, of course, but that’s a later migration, and not the majority of PNG languages.)

What is it like to have the same first name as your last name?

Not that big a deal, although I think it’s meant I’m not as emotionally attached to my surname as I could have been. (I’m more attached to the “Dr.” 🙂 The surname hasn’t been in the family that long anyway.

The jokes I hear when I’m introduced to people get old pretty quick, so I roll my eyes and move on. Last few years, I’ve been preempting them by coopting the New York saying: They liked me so much, they named me twice. And before that, I’d make a point of saying that I have three cousins with the same name. (Greek Cypriot naming practices: father’s patronymic as surname, and grandfather’s name as given name.)

Star Trek (creative franchise): How do I go about learning Klingon?

Once I’d gotten the grammar down, I found that vocabulary stuck in my head through lots of dictionary lookup while translating text into Klingon. (With disuse, of course, it goes away again…) Because of the relative lack of source texts, I found that a useful technique.

Why is “mycorrhiza” translitered with two “r”s?

Because had the word existed in Ancient Greek, it would have been written with two r’s.

Ancient Greek had a rule that if anything was prefixed to a word starting with r-, the r- was doubled. That did not involve just compounds, but also prepositions put in front of verbs, alpha privative (the equivalent of un-), and even augments, the prefix indicating past tense:

  • μέλι “honey” + ῥυτός “flowing” > μελίρρυτος “flowing with honey”
  • ῥέω “to flow” > ἁνα-ρρέω “to flow back”
  • ῥευστός “in flux” > ἄ-ρρευστος “static”
  • ῥύω ” I cleanse” > ἔ-ρρυα “I cleansed”

The rule had broken down in spelling by Byzantine Greek, and the rule has no application in either pronunciation or spelling in Standard Modern Greek. But of course scientific use of Greek took Classical Greek as its model.

So when new compounds were made up in scientific Greek in the West, they (usually) applied the rules of Classical Greek phonology to their coinages.  After all, Classical Greek had a -rrhiza compound already: γλυκύ-ρριζα “sweet-root” = “liquorice”. Liquorice, scientific name: Glycyrrhiza glabra.