How could Noam Chomsky say that Esperanto is not a language?

‘Cause he’s a reductionist shmuck.

Longer answer:

What Jens Stengaard Larsen’s answer said. To the Noam (tar his bones!), linguistics is an arm of neuropsychology, and anything that doesn’t reflect the (big sarcastic scare quotes) natural development of language is not of scientific interest.

Lots of evil narrowminded blinkered linguists share the naturalist bias against Esperanto and other conlangs (How do professional linguists react to Esperanto?). Many scholars though don’t share Chomsky’s particular take on language, including:

  • Actual neuropsychologists
  • Almost all historical linguists
  • Pragmaticists
  • Most Typologists
  • Sociolinguists
  • Anthropological linguists
  • Fieldworkers
  • Corpus linguists
  • Linguists on the West Coast of the States and in Australia

Edit: Oh and I forgot to add (especially for Vadim Berman):

  • computational linguists!

Especially after Chomsky took the NATO funding for machine translation in the 1960, and ran…

Answered 2016-04-28 · Upvoted by

Dimitar Berberu, Evangelist at Esperanto

Can someone identify a particular Ancient Greek word in this text by Strabo?

Nothing to add to my esteemed colleagues, Lyonel. “Like a marine lung” is what it literally says; and the different relevant senses of “lung” (πλεύμων) that apply here, from Liddell-Scott, are:

  1. lungs
  2. sea-lungs = jelly fish

The “jelly fish” meaning of πλεύμων is attributed to Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and—surprise—Pytheas, as cited in Polybius. i.e. Your passage.

For jollies, I’m gonna try out my Mad Ancient Greek Skillz on the passage, without looking at the translation.

In describing the geography of Europe, Polybius says you should ignore the most ancient sources, and of those who scrutinised them, you should examine Dicaearchus, Eratosthenes (in this treatise on Geography), and Pytheas. Pytheas misled many, claiming to have gone around the entire expanse of Britain, and attributing a circumference to the island of more than 400,000. He further added in a story about the regions around Thule, where there was neither land nor sea nor air, but some sort of mixture of the three like a jelly-fish. He says that land and sea and everything float in this mixture, and that the mixture is like the stuff binding it all t0gether, being neither walkable not navigable. He says that he saw the jelly-fish-like mixture with his own eyes, and everything else he heard reported. That’s what is in Pytheas; and on his return he claims to have gone past the whole coast of Europe, from Cadiz to the Don.

Why are Norwegians so cold and unapproachable?

Positive Politeness vs Negative Politeness.

What say you Wikipedia?

  • Negative politeness: Making a request less infringing, such as “If you don’t mind…” or “If it isn’t too much trouble…”; respects a person’s right to act freely. In other words, deference. There is a greater use of indirect speech acts.
  • Positive politeness: Seeks to establish a positive relationship between parties; respects a person’s need to be liked and understood. 

Negative politeness, which is the norm in Northern Europe, is all about respecting people’s space—literally and figuratively. Which is why Southern Europeans think they’re a bunch of emotionless drones.

Positive politeness, which is the norm in Southern Europe, is all about eliminating space between people—literally and figuratively. Which is why Northern Europeans think they’re a bunch of obnoxious psychos.

What is the best part about learning modern Greek?

  • How much more regular and simple the grammar is, compared to Ancient Greek. Downside: extensive borrowings from Ancient Greek have messed it all up again.
  • The bits of Latin, Venetian, Turkish, Slavic, and even Catalan in the vocabulary, that show you how Greek history did not end with Alexander. Downside: a lot of these have been whitewashed.
  • The subtle variations in emphasis that come from free word order, that isn’t used just to fit the metre in poetry. Downside: reading a one size fits all word order in journalistic and prosaic Modern Greek.

Can we let a language die if we record, document and translate it?

If you have to ask the question, it’s already doomed. Linguists can only record the language; only the language community can give up on it.

If the  language community wants to hold on to it, linguists can give them tools. But it’s not easy.

EDIT: OP also asks:

Also, why should we teach our childs our mother tongue when we are living abroad (in a country with another language ) and also our first language is not in danger?

Because more languages—even if they aren’t much practical use—are a good in themselves.

It doesn’t look like I’ll get to have kids; if I did, I’d teach them Greek. Because  I’m proud to be Australian, and I’m proud to be Greek. And that’s something I’d want to share with my progeny.

My parents did not speak Greek to me until we moved to Greece. In retrospect, that’s heartbreaking.

Are there any autographs of Jesus Christ?

No, but several letters have been claimed for him over the years, ranging from early apocrypha:

Letters of Jesus and Abgar

to early chain mail:

Letter from Jesus Christ

(See Himmelsbrief for the genre of “letters from Heaven”)

What is the scariest thing about living in Australia?

That we are still, 52 years after the book was published, The Lucky Country. Which is meant to be a bad thing: prospering through luck, rather than competent planning.

The original indictment the author intended was that the luck was inertia in following British habits—Australia Forrest Gump’d it into prosperity. The popular understanding is that he meant natural resources. (The idiot popular understanding is that he meant “luck” as a compliment.)

The most appalling excesses of Britishist inertia have been curbed, Tony Abbott notwithstanding. But the popular understanding remains valid. We had a chance to become Norway with a nice future fund, and we blew it.

The scariest thing about living in Australia is its future.

What are the names of the week in the Greek language?

Like in Portuguese (allegedly as a coincidence), four of them are counts:

  • Monday = Second
  • Tuesday = Third
  • Wednesday = Fourth
  • Thursday = Fifth

The other three are religious

  • Sunday = Lord’s (day). As the numerical days show, it was also the first day
  • Saturday = Sabbath
  • Friday = Preparation (for the Sabbath)

Was Paul’s command to obey parents in Ephesians 6:1 and Colossians 3:20 of the New Testament just for young children or adult children also?

I defer to Username for the theology, and to others for the cultural context. But yes, Greek had a different word for pre-adults (παίς, παιδίον) and for offspring (τέκνον); and Paul uses the latter.

Europeans: would you feel emotionally disappointed if the UK left the EU?

Just to chime in with Achilleas Vortselas’ answer: I’m not sure Brits know how big a deal it has been for Greeks to embrace a European identity. Or Germans or Spaniards or Poles, but it was a seismic shift for Greeks.

Because of that investment, Achilleas is spot on: continental Europeans will feel massively betrayed. Not just because of blocking the free movement of Europeans—but because, even now, they remain invested in a European identity, and they see Brits that aren’t.

I’ll add an unasked-for perspective: Australians’. Australia in its postwar stupor assumed it was still part of the Empire long after there was no Εmpire. Britain joining the EU was a massive shock to Australia, who until then assumed the UK would always trade with the Empire first. It was part of the requisite shock to get Australia untethered from its British identity.

Australians won’t remember the shock now. And politically and culturally, the Anglosphere is real—more real for its members (obviously) than the European Union is.

But economically, the “mother country” can get stuffed. The UK made its decision to turn to its own neighbourhood for trade; we have too. To the extent that we don’t want to be too vociferously allied to the US, for fear of upsetting China. And a Brexited Britain should not expect to swap its European partners with Commonwealth partners in commerce. That ship sailed long ago.

That too is an emotional argument.