Why would a Church Parish record of baptisms from Wexford, Ireland in the 1690’s use umlauts over the letter “y” in names like “Murphy” and “Meyler”?

I’m not familiar with that convention, but I’m not surprised. If cursive is a bunch of squiggles, then dots help you tell the difference between, say, <in> and <m>. Same applies for ÿ: helps differentiate, for example, a final Latin <ii> (which could have been spelled <ij>) from a y.

At a guess.

Upsilon in Mediaeval Greek had a diaeresis for the same reason.

EDIT: This post Google Groups corroborates the use of <ÿ> to differentiate it from <g> in German handwriting.

What comes to your mind when someone mentions Turkey (the country)?

I am Greek.

(And Australian, but a lot more of my reactions are going to be informed by being Greek than being Australian, for obvious reasons. In fact, Gallipoli to me is more about the manuscript of Gallipoli dialect I saw in Athens, than the ANZACs. But to me, Australian history started in 1942 anyway.)

100% honesty, you say?

My first reaction on hearing Turkey:

The neighbour.

It’s how the Greek press refers to Turkey, and how the Turkish press refers to Greece. Not “the primordial enemy”, which it was up until 1990. Not “our good buddy”, because there is still too much history there. But the neighbour. Someone we know very very well. Someone we’ve had a lot of bad blood with. Someone we find unexpected common reference points with. Someone who gets under our skin so much, because they’re so much like us. And someone that we have many more songs in common with, than we do with those we claim as kin.

Other reactions:

“Turkish food is like Greek good, only good.” Best goddamn meat in my life, from a suburban kebab shop in Kadıköy.

Kemalism: Secular mainstream.

Erdoğan vs Taksim Square.

Towns we used to call our own.

Land of the moustache. Where nuances of moustache revealed political affiliation.

Booming economy, feeling pretty smug now about not joining the EU.

Deep pockets of history.

Place I need to explore more of than just Sultanahmet.

What are some facile equivalences between European countries and Asian countries?

Here’s one that isn’t mine (it’s my friend Suresh’s), but it triggered the question.

Japan is the Britain of Asia.


Based on a novel written by someone Japanese. Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

  • Rigid class system.
  • Sexual hangups, leading to strange artforms in reaction. In Japan, Bukkake and Hentai. In the UK, Carry On films and Benny Hill.

In a TV show where people get eaten alive by zombies or worse why is saying “fuck” a big deal?

American Network TV-specific, Anon. “Fuck” gets used in quite innocuous contexts in Australia. Such as Gogglebox Australia, a show showing couch potatoes yelling at Reality TV shows. (And only the Real Housewives of Melbourne say “fuck” unbleeped.) And in the States, there’s lots of profanity on HBO shows.

Walking Dead is cable too, but I don’t know enough about AMC to know why they didn’t follow Game of Thrones in profanity.

Different cultures have different taboos, different attitudes to taboo-breaking, and different consensuses around taboos. With regards to sexual profanity, there is a prudish mainstream in the US, and a libertine undercurrent. Blasphemy is (somewhat surprisingly) not a thing in the US any more, although the swearing in Deadwood is an attempt to emulate erstwhile taboo-breaking. America has evolved a whole new suite of taboos around racism (“N-word”). And so on.

It’s well known though, and a recurrent source of commentary, that the US mass media has more taboos about sex than about violence.

Are stories of Nasreddin Hodja uncopyrighted?

Nasreddin stories count as folklore. That means that, as long as you’re reasonably free in the wording of the story, it’s as out of copyright as Aesop. If you are translating or citing word for word someone’s edition of Nasreddin Hodja, then there may be a copyright issue in the compilation.

Are Middle Easterners considered to be White by Greeks?

Everyone here has spoken well on the topic.

Greeks have a keen sense of Other, and skin colour can factor into that. As Dimitra Triantafyllidou says, we have a history of dismissing Gypsies (like much of Europe); and there’s a lot of anti-Pakistani feeling in downtown Athens. But then again, there was a lot of anti-Albanian feeling in downtown Athens twenty years ago.

But here’s the thing. Swedes are almost as alien to Greeks as Nigerians are. And a good deal more alien than the Lebanese are.

And that’s where the peculiarly American dichotomy of White/Black falls down. As Yannis Gaitanas said, “Us” is not defined in Greek by skin colour—as it was in the US, whose ruling class was a melting-pot of light-skinned cultures. “Us” is defined by culture, whether as religion or ethnicity or education. So light skin on its own doesn’t mean that much. Just because we don’t identify with Nigerians doesn’t mean we identify with Swedes more.

Oh, and the traditional Modern Greek term for blacks—which is now derogatory, but was originally just neutral: arapis. From Arab. Early Modern Greeks knew that there was this place called Araby, and that black-skinned people came from there. They didn’t put Middle Easterners in that category (such as, you know, actual Arabs). As far as Greeks were concerned, those were Turks.