Why is linguistics considered a science?

Supplemental to the list given by David Rosson (ah, your American bias is showing, David 🙂

cc C (Selva) R.Selvakumar

  • As Dmitriy Genzel points out, Historical Linguistics is an observational science, like Astronomy. A lot of hypothesis testing though.
  • To add to Tibor Kiss’ list of German words, Linguistic Typology is a Versammelnde Wissenschaft: a science based on data collection. Like biological taxonomy.
  • Semantics, depending on the flavour of Semantics being done, is an observational science (lexicography), or logic, or philosophy.
  • Pragmatics is something in between cultural anthropology and philosophy (but a very cool, nuts-and-bolts philosophy).
  • Discourse Analysis is observational science, but with dirtier data.

Oh, and phoneticians’ papers look just like psychology papers. Four pages long, with graphs. Historical linguists’ papers are old-school chatty. Syntax papers have at least some pretence of rigour. The style of the papers lines up to the kinds of science (or Geistwissenschaft) their subdisciplines aspire to be.

Why is it that spoken Italian seems easier to understand than spoken Spanish?

There’s a slight factor, which Chris Lo has already pointed out in comments, but it’s only slight.

Spanish does not have length contrast in vowels or consonants. As a result it is syllable-timed, and it is spoken quite fast.

Italian has audible vowel length differences (stresses vs unstressed), and also long and short consonants. That makes it spoken a bit slower, and there’s more phonetic variety, which (for me) makes it a bit easier to pick out words.

Why does Quora delete my questions? I asked how I could watch a movie online for free and it was removed within seconds.

Originally Answered:

Why has Quora moderation removed my question?

Like Konstantinos Konstantinides said, if we don’t know what the question was, we can’t help.

But the right place to get help is likely:

Need help wording a Quora question?

Why are opinions from teenagers often not taken seriously on Quora?

I am dismayed at many of the answers here.

I am 45. I was never more intelligent, more vital, more curious, more positive, more engaged, than when I was…

… actually, than when I was 25. But I was still pretty damn impressive at 18. And I read a hell of a lot more literature.

It’s true, as the renowned party poopers on this thread have put it, that your brain development is still ongoing at 18; as Kazantzakis would put it in Greek, your brain “has not yet congealed.” But that’s nothing to do with intellect; that’s to do with impulse control, and experience. The only thing that I grew in mentally since 18 was reserve.

Or selling out, as my youthful self would put it. And it wouldn’t necessarily be unfair.

Two of my favourite Quorans were my favourites before I had any idea of their age: Lara Novakov and Dimitris Almyrantis. The only reason I’m not adding Sierra Spaulding to that list is because I don’t care as much about US electoral politics as she and Michael Masiello do, so I haven’t followed her as closely as he has. (I’m looking forward to what she says on Quora past November 🙂

All of them have occasionally (very occasionally) said things to make me wince (just as any number of 60-year olds here have); but none of them have said anything to make me not take them seriously. And the same goes for any number of other teens I may have bumped into here, realising it or not.

Are they outliers, as party poopers here have harrumphed? Sure.

But aren’t we all?

P.J. O’Rourke was in town recently. He was explaining Trump and the resentment of the elites to us Antipodeans, in an ABC chat show (Q&A). And he pointed out that everyone in the audience was by definition in the resented elite, simply because they were interested in politics.

These are people posting, intelligently and vibrantly, about Ottoman history and Serbian daily life and American politics, on a forum defined by its braininess. On a forum that by definition counts as the resented elite. They’ve earned the respect I give them.

What’s the onomatopoeia for a computer?

Thing about onomatopoeias is, they get conventionalised and stick around, even if the referent no longer makes that sound.

I mean this sound?

This sound, the doot doot doot bloop bleep flurgh frump virrrr of a dial up modem? Hasn’t been heard in functional use for what, twenty years? And yet it is still used here and there, as emblematic of the internets.

I submit to you, learned Quorans, that there is an onomatopoeia for computers lurking around, but it dates from the 60s and 70s.

And that the onomatopoeia is bleep or bloop bleep.

What should Quora users do with overtagged or incorrectly tagged questions if they are not sure which topics to add/remove?

If you’re a subject matter expert, you know which topics to remove.

If you’re not, you could (a) report the question, and hope that QCR will work out what’s wrong, act as subject matter experts themselves, and pick the right subset of questions, with the longstanding level of expertise and discretion we have come to expect…

… no, stop laughing, Steven…

… no, seriously…

or (b) I dunno, find a subject matter who can.

Robert Frost complained about something quite similar recently, in light of Quora’s decision to do away with complex reporting: What do we do about wrong answers? by Robert Frost on Rage against Quora

What are the drawbacks to standardizing languages?

You lose linguistic diversity, as the dialects gradually die out, or at least are marginalised. You may not may not care about linguistic diversity, of course.

You lose ways of saying things that are specific to non-standard dialects. Cretan dialect for example has a distinct word for “trickle”. (To my annoyance, I don’t remember it.) Standard Greek only has “run”, a verb which applies equally to dripping, trickling, and leaking. Pontic Greek works on animacy, not gender. Tsakonian has some very archaic usage of the participle, which end up sounding closer to English than Modern Greek (he started barking αρχίνιε κχαούντα; I am seeing έννι ορού).

You lose the cultural associations that the dialects expressed; you sacrifice the distinct cultures conveyed by the dialects in favour of the standard.

If your language is moribund and there are still native speakers, standardising languages turns out not to be a good idea. Oh sure, you have limited resources to promulgate the language, and they’re more efficiently expended through using only one standard form. But when the standard form is not what the native speakers of the language actually speak, all you’ve ended up doing is alienating those speakers from the media you use. That’s what happened with Gaelic for example: the remaining speakers out in the Hebrides felt even worse about the language they spoke, because it didn’t match what BBC Alba was broadcasting.

If the standard is not anyone’s native dialect, you’re going to have some disruption while people learn the new standard, and get used to it. In fact, if the standard is not preexisting, you’re going to have some disruption while people flesh it out and elaborate it. And they may do a bad job of it.

If the standard is someone’s native dialect, you’re going to have enduring resentment from speakers of the dialects which have missed out.

Should Quora remove the auto-topic feature?

I’m with Jeff Wright. I find much about the way Quora is run pig-headed; but some topics are a lot better than no topics, and it’s much easier to tag topics if you’re given a starting point.

OTOH, I don’t have much confidence in how users are involved in any feedback loop, and some of the errors are quite obvious. More emphasis on topic confirmation for new users would be a good thing too; but that would run afoul of Quora’s longstanding policy of zero onboarding.

Is Quora a social media site?

I can tell why the question was posed, which amuses me.

Clearly Quora is a Social Media site: there is interaction between members of the kind we recognise from Social Media. And clearly all respondents so far have said “duh, of course it is.”

But that was not the intent of The Founders. The Founders wanted a serious Expert forum, Enhancing the World’s Knowledge, and Able to Serve as a Substitute for Google and/or Wikipedia.

To The Founders, any of this socialising crap has been a distraction. If you wanted socialising, you know where to find Facebook. In fact, they know where to find Facebook, since that’s where they came from.

That’s why the Top Writer cabals are set up on Facebook, not here. That’s why the social media functionality on Quora is rudimentary. That’s why The Founders, if they had their way, would have done away with comments, and with the unwashed masses contributing.

(Because that worked out so well with Citizendium.)

(OK, that’s an unfair comparison; Quora weren’t seeking out academics as experts at the start: they were the experts themselves. Which is why in 2010, Quora was Silicon Valley and Startups, 24/7.)

The stated intent of The Founders was that it not be a Socialising site, and Quorans who agree with the Founders’ agenda take a dim view of “The Other Quora” (Indians using Quora much more like a Social Media site). The downgrading of comments (deletable, not sharable, not searchable) and Blogs (not googlable, hidden as a misfeature) are also consistent with this orientation.

The Earth however does continue to move. Eppur si muove.