Is it acceptable to use “with” without an object? For example. I’m coming with. I hear this lately in Southern California. Is this correct?

It’s a regionally restricted colloquialism, and outside of those regions it sounds odd.

I’m surprised to hear it’s showing up in SoCal and Hawaii. I was aware of it in New York English, under Yiddish influence, and South Australian English, under German influence.

EDIT: looks like I got my Germanic-influenced American dialects mixed up: not New York, but Upper Midwest, and not Yiddish, but likelier Swedish.

And here’s the PhD dissertation on the subject: A cross -dialectal, multi -field, variation” by John M Spartz

How do you say “happy birthday” in Greek? How do you write it as part of a sentence?

Originally Answered:

What is the correct way of saying “happy birthday” in Greek?

Χρόνια Πολλά (khronya pola), “many years!” Applicable to any anniversary, and to saint’s days (which are the real cultural equivalent of birthdays).

History: Which cultures or societies went from being literate to illiterate? As in a script becoming extinct or some other reason.

This is a mythological rather than factual answer, but:

The Hmong people were illiterate, but they lived at the crossroads of a bunch of literate cultures—the Chinese, the Thai, the Vietnamese, the Laotians. The Hmong noticed. And they figured that they must not always have been the downtrodden illiterates that they were: surely they too used to have writing.

The legend was that, when they were literate, they were migrating across a river, and as they did, their horses ate their books.

Any resemblance to “the dog ate my homework” is fortuitous.

This meant that the Hmong invested much messianic expectation in the restoration of literacy. Which explains the enthusiasm with which the Hmong embraced the Romanized Popular Alphabet, promulgated by missionaries such as William Smalley. It also explains the curious history of the… script—and the messianic cult around its martyred originator, Shong Lue Yang, the “Mother of Writing”.  

Smalley cowrote the biography of Yang, Mother of Writing, with Yang’s chief disciple. It is touchingly respectful.

In linguistics, are there views other than the primacy of speech over writing?

The default thinking in linguistics is indeed that spoken language  has primacy over written, and Brian has outlined the arguments for it.

But coming from another culture with the burden of diglossia and veneration for old forms of the language, I get where OP is coming from. Written language is never anterior to spoken,  and babies listen before they read. But clearly there are cases where primarily written prestige registers do influence what people say. The cases in English are marginal, like pronouncing t in often.

The instances in highly diglossic or culturally conservative languages, like Greek, are not marginal. Modern Greek phonology is a mess, because of a mass of spelling pronunciations, that violate vernacular phonotactics.

Let me give an example. “cheapness” was pronounced [ewtʰɛːnia] in Ancient Greek. If you read it out with modern pronunciation, you get [efθinia]. Now [fθ] is hard to pronounce, and noone probably ever did pronounce it: [pʰtʰ] >  *[fθ] regularly goes to [ft] in the vernacular, and itʼs likely that  [ewtʰ] just went straight to [ft]. So the modern word for “cheapness” is [ftiɲa].

But because of diglossia, and the primary in prestige of the Ancient written word, Modern Greek got a bunch of Ancient words that were not adjusted for modern phonotactics, and were read out letter for letter. So “responsibility”, which was [ewtʰɛːnɛː], is pronounced as [efθini], not *[ftini]. And it gets worse: “fragile” [ewtʰrawstos] ends up as [efθrafstos]. (Ioannis Psycharis, who was the first populariser of the term “diglossia”, wanted to regularlise Ancient loans like that, as a good neogrammarian. Everyone else thought that regularised Ancient loans were  ridiculous—and the resulting unpronouncable phonotactics of [efθrafstos] was not.)

(Of course in reality, noone pronounces it [efθrafstos] in rapid speech; the -fst- at least gets simplified to -st-. When a Cretan dialect retelling of Game Of Thrones went viral, the narrator called Jorah Mormont, whose actor has a Scottish accent, “the Australian tax dodger”, [afstralos]. Because all Commonwealth accents sound alike. YouTube commenters corrected him: a true Cretan would say he was an [astralos].)

Pronunciations like  [efθrafstos] came into being because the pedants prioritised the written word. You can say they were fools. You can say languages doesn’t work that way. (God knows Psycharis did.) But Modern Greek phonotactics is now the way it is, because of them.

Ditto the development of  Chinese, or for that matter Icelandic.

Which language is closest to Greek?

Following up on  Joachim Pense’s answer:

Modern Hellenic languages

If we include modern Hellenic languages, a (purely subjectively) ranking of the “outlier” dialects by closeness to Standard Modern Greek is:

  • Salento Griko
  • Calabria Griko
  • Mariupolitan
  • Pontic
  • Silliot (spoken in Sille, near Konya)
  • Cappadocian
  • Tsakonian

The dividing point for mutual intelligibility is probably Pontic, definitely by Silliot. Of course, it’s not routine practice to consider anything but Tsakonian a distinct language.

Historical Hellenic languages

If we instead include ancient Hellenic languages, traditionally it is considered to be Ancient Macedonian—based on the Hesychian glosses, which have radical sound changes. The recent epigraphic  finds OTOH look like routine Doric.

Outside Hellenic languages

If we exclude Hellenic languages and if we trust lexicostatistics, the closest language is Armenian.  (See: Graeco-Armenian)

Which is the most peaceful civilisation that ever existed?

The warlike Māori arrived in New Zealand in the 12th century. Around the 16th century, some Māori left and settled in the Chatham Islands. That offshoot is known as the Moriori people.

The Chatham Islands are not New Zealand. They are small, and cold, and you can’t grow the crops you are used to as Polynesians. With limited resources, you could continue to practice tribal warfare and/or one-upmanship, like the Easter Islanders did, and end up with an ecological disaster and mass starvation. Or, you could adjust to your new circumstances.

And the most important adjustment the Moriori made was when their chief Nunuku-whenua, quite early on, decided they should become pacifists. Their situation simply did not allow the kinds of protracted feuds and tribal warfare that they could afford back in New Zealand. Disputes were settled by duels, and the duel was over at the first sign of blood. Nunuku’s Law was that the Moriori shall not kill, shall not wage war, and shall not practice cannibalism.

So, back in New Zealand, the warlike Māori continued to be warlike Māori. When the Europeans came to town, the northernmost warlike Māori got guns. Which they turned on the next tribe south. When the next tribe south got guns, their northern neighbours stopped massacring them; and benefitting from the new balance of terror, the southern tribe turned their new guns on the third tribe south. This continued on all the way down the North Island, until a raiding party went across to the South Island. With guns.

The current Māori population of the South Island is not very large.

About the same time that North Island Māori with guns started killing South Island Māori, some displaced North Island Māori with guns hijacked a whaling ship, and hitched a ride to the Chatham Islands. They then proceeded to eat a seventh of the Moriori, and enslave the rest. They forbade them from intermarrying with each other, and from speaking their own language. Thirty years later, the Moriori were down to a tenth of their pre-invasion numbers.

And here’s the thing: when this was going down, some Moriori begged their elders to let them fight back.

A hui or council of Moriori elders was convened at the settlement called Te Awapatiki. Despite knowing of the Māori predilection for killing and eating the conquered, and despite the admonition by some of the elder chiefs that the principle of Nunuku was not appropriate now, two chiefs — Tapata and Torea — declared that “the law of Nunuku was not a strategy for survival, to be varied as conditions changed; it was a moral imperative.”

The pacifism that Nunuku-whenua bequeathed the Moriori was absolute. And it saw them decimated.

What is the meaning of “ρεστα” from the Greek word here?

That would be my sentence.

“false friend” is a word in L2 which looks like a word in L1—so learners of L2 think they know what it means; but they’re wrong. Hence “false friend”: you’re been tricked by the word that you thought was your friend (because it looked familiar).

rest in English looks like resta = “loose change” in Greek. If you’re a Greek learning English, and you use rest to mean “loose change”, then rest is a false friend for you: you thought you knew the word because it looked familiar, but you were wrong.

Language switch: What is the meaning of “καμπινα” in this sentence?

More context needed.

ρέστα means “left overs” or “loose change”; it’s from Italian and corresponds to “(the) rest” in English.

In this context, though, if what they said was

I go to my ρέστα room, inside to καμπίνα

I’m suspecting it’s a borrowing of rest room,  given that καμπινέ (< French cabinet) is a word for “toilet”.

Do I need a licence to play music on street in Greece and is playing “Mana Mou Ellas” ok for Greeks?


Given the context of the song in the movie Rembetiko (film), you might want to reconsider. Then again, I dunno, maybe not: my fellow Greeks who have also answered the question don’t seem to be bothered. It is about how Greece does not take care of Greeks, like a mother mistreating her children, and is instead distracted by illusions of ancient grandeur. In the movie it alludes to the collapse of the Megali Idea. Which happened in Turkey.

It’s a great song, and it’s a very political song. But while Greeks can be very self-critical, they dislike hearing the same criticisms from others, and I’d think Turks repeating those criticisms could be a bit much.

Here’s my translation btw: That Big Fake Talk

My opinion notwithstanding, I’m very happy to hear of your tour, and I wish you all success. I’d say it in Rumeyka, but I’d get it wrong…