Dimitra drives to the Acheron

The Acheron river was reputed in antiquity to be the gateway to Hades.

Dimitra Triantafyllidou’s answer to Are there any Greek towns built along the Acheron river in Greece? recounted driving through the drained Acherusian lake, and getting lost in the middle of the night, after a village festival.


On the 15th of August, Feast Day of the Dormition, commemorating the ascent of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Heavens,

you and yours were tipsily driving through fog and darkness, INTO THE VERY GATES OF HADES?!

Why, yes, I do think I have visual of the occasion…

Why are the Persian Wars important to the Greeks?

  • The only time the city-states of Ancient Greece rallied to a common cause
  • Therefore, a formative event in the understanding of Greek identity (not least, because it was defined as not-barbarian)
    • Leaving out the inconvenient fact that the Greeks of Ionia had long accommodated themselves to Persian rule
  • A formative event in the history of writing history—it was the driver behind Herodotus; and hence, in the history of writing Greek history
  • A defensive war that the Greeks won (so, a Good War)
Answered 2016-08-10 · Upvoted by

Amir Davis, Military Officer, War Veteran.

Which people have half Gothic half Slavic blood: Sorbians, others, or no one?

No idea whether the Sorbs are part-Gothic, or even how you could tell.

I have another, more obscure instance though.

Gothic survived in Gothia (Principality of Theodoro) in the Crimea, up until the 16th century.

Gothic shifted in the Crimea to Greek. In fact, the Gothic speakers that Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq recorded were giving their Gothic nouns with Greek articles.

Of the Greeks of the Crimea, in turn, many shifted to speaking Crimean Tatar language. Their variant of Tatar is called Urum language (i.e. Rum, Roman—that is, Greek).

The Greek Orthodox population of Crimea, who called themselves Rumei in Greek and Urum in Tatar, were resettled in 1778 to the area around Mariupol in the Ukraine: the Greek-speakers in the surrounding countryside, the Tatar-speakers in the town. Mariupol is (just) under Ukrainian control, and borders the Russian separatist areas.

Greek and Urum are both under language shift to Russian (this is eastern Ukraine). And one would expect that they are intermarrying with ethnic Russians.

And, one would think, there would be some Crimean Gothic blood in that ethnic group of Greek/Urum speakers originally from the Crimea.

So… yes. There’s a likely “Other”.

What would have world lost (apart from some more password combinations) if it had not used capital letters?

Not a whole lot. Consider:

  • Only very few scripts even have a case distinction: Roman, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian. Georgian and Cherokee are picking up case now, but that’s not because they need to, that’s because they’re being culturally influenced from hegemonic scripts.
  • Languages vary wildly in what they choose to capitalise. German capitalises nouns; most languages don’t. Modern languages capitalise starts of sentences; mediaeval languages did not, and editions of Classical Latin and Greek, and Mediaeval Latin, do not. The only words consistently capitalised are proper names.
  • It’s nice to single out proper names, since they can be confused out of context with common nouns; hieroglyphics used cartouches for that reason. But it’s not essential.

So, what would the world have lost? A little bit of ambiguity around proper names in European languages—which non-European languages have never found to be that much of a problem.

Of course, you would also have missed out on Studly caps and CamelCase. But human civilisation coped without them until the 1970s…

If Xena was transported to the present, could she read today’s Greek?

How do Greeks say “Happy New Year”? Is there more than one way to say it?


  • Καλή Χρονιά, “Happy [New] Year” (the most frequent form)
  • Καλή Πρωτοχρονιά, “Happy New Year’s Day!” (specific to the day)
  • Ευτυχισμένο το Νέο Έτος, “May the New Year be Happy” (a more official formulation, of the kind you’ll see in writing or address to dignitaries)

Do Australians like being Australian citizens?

Take everything that Tracey Bryan said as read. Even if she does live in Brissie.

Why, yes. I like being an Australian citizen. Let me count the whys.

  • I like that I get to be an Australian citizen, and not a British subject. I am happy that my country finally cut itself from the apron strings of Mother England. (It took a while.)
  • I like that my Australianness gets to be defined by being an Australian citizen. I am happy that my country has embraced civic nationalism, and does not require a blood test for me to prove my bonafides; that no bastard gets to tell me they’re more Australian than me.
  • I like that my country is multicultural. That (again, with a lot of pushing) it has become more open to different ways of cooking things, and conducting yourself, and (gradually) seeing the world.
  • I like that my country has a culture; that cultural plurality has not led to cultural nullity. I love that we have a distinctive accent, and lifestyle, and popular culture, and shared mythology.
  • I like that my country has learned to be skeptical of mythologies. At times, it looks like it needs reminding of it; but people are irreverent, and skeptical, enough of them are prepared to poke at sacred cows.
  • I like that my country can still wave its flag: that its skepticism of mythologies has not turned it into Germany, terrified of saying anything good about itself. And I like that my country subverts its own flag, half the time waving the Boxing kangaroo instead of the Blue Ensign.

  • I like that my fellow Australians can take the piss out of anything, and refuse to take themselves seriously. #censusfail, the grousing about the Bureau of Statistics allowing its online census to crash, became comedy gold—with Australian tweeters hoping that “Season 2 of #censusfail would be picked up on Netflix”.
    • Including politicians: Kristina Keneally on Twitter (former premier of NSW, grew up in Toledo OH): “When my kids ask why I haven’t made dinner tonight, I’m going to tell them it’s not a failure, just a denial of service. #CensusFail”
  • I like that my fellow Australians are secure enough to love their country even while acknowledging all that has gone wrong with it (as Tracey Bryan does here and elsewhere). That’s a mature nationalism you don’t see often enough in the world.

Can you follow root words and follow the immigration routes?

Famously, yes in the case of Romani:


Through the common vocabulary of all the Romani dialects, we can trace their migration from India, through Iran, Georgia and Armenia, to Greece/Anatolia, to Romania. After Romania there is a dispersal throughout Europe: there is no further common vocabulary between Romani dialects.

(from: Romani people, though this map seems to use historical and not just linguistic evidence)