Why does the French language sound so different from the other Romance or Latin languages?

These answers are kinda converging. My answer is:

  • What Brian Collins said—the vowel repertoire, plus the final consonants,
  • and the nasals. There are nasals elsewhere, including Vulgar Latin; but the nasals are a huge part of the French stereotype. [hɔ̃.hɔ̃.hɔ̃]
  • Grudgingly, I admit that the nasals are less critical than the other two. I hate both Portuguese and French because of the nasals; but noone confuses Portuguese and French.

I was reading some Old French out loud one day two decades ago, while doing my PhD. And I turned to my bolshie (literally) fellow PhD student, and commented “hey, Old French actually sounded quite nice”.

“Yeah,” he snarled. “Before it picked up all that froggie shit.”

aka: How French got all its Froggie Shit.

Why are all Quora moderators Satan?

I wished, my A2A’er and True Quora Master Scott Welch, to give you a well-informed theologically-based answer to this question.

So I googled: “Satan does not”. Because there’s a lot of things that Quora moderation does not do.

I got this from the Agape Geek blog as my first Google hit: Six Things Satan Doesn’t Want You To Know About Himself

And freakily enough, the Agape Geek’s Evangelical description of Satan has several eerie touchpoints with Quora Moderation:

1. Satan DOES NOT Want You To Know That He Exists

2. Satan DOES NOT Want You To Know How He Operates

3. Satan DOES NOT Want You to Know that He Can’t Be Everywhere At Once

4. Satan DOES NOT Want You To Know That His Time Is Short

5. Satan DOES NOT Want You To Know He Was Defeated

6. Satan DOES NOT Want You To Know That You Have Authority Over Him


  1. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You To Know That It Exists.
    Chrys Jordan’s answer to What if Quora were a country? Keyword: Cryptocracy.
  2. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You To Know How It Operates.
    Chrys Jordan’s answer to What if Quora were a country? Keyword: Cryptocracy.
  3. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You to Know that It Can’t Be Everywhere At Once.
    Quora Moderation is (hypothetically) having trouble keeping up with violations. Quora Moderation can’t (hypothetically) be everywhere at once. Which is why YOU WILL GET DINGED FOR VIOLATIONS TWO YEARS AFTER YOUR OFFENCE. Does Quora Moderation have a statute of limitations on policy violations? And if not should they?
  4. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You To Know That Its Time Is Short
    Quora Moderation does not want you to know how long its current arrangements will persist, until it’s too late! Hah! Just as people got the surprise notice about the end of community moderation! Or of the Elimination of Topic-Based Moderation by Jay Wacker on Quora Product Updates! Quora Moderation will keep you GUESSING! PRAISE JESUS!
  5. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You To Know It Was Defeated
    Nonsense! Heresy! Quora Moderation has never been defeated! Quora Moderation has never had to bring anyone back to life twice, like Steven de Guzman! That’s why QUORA MODERATION NEVER APOLOGISES! EVER! MINE EYES HAVE SEEN THE GLORY! HALLELUJAH!
  6. Quora Moderation DOES NOT Want You To Know That You Have Authority Over It
    Quora Moderation does not want you to know that you have ANY AUTHORITY AT ALL! You will respect QUORA’S AUTHORITAH! YOU WILL NOT QUESTION QUORA’S AUTHORITAH! That’s why all your moderation appeals are belong to DEV/NULL! AND SO INTO THE DEPTHS OF PERDITION!

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It’s a plausible theory, OP. Good work there.

What would your Quora followers be surprised to learn about you?

Others on this thread have spoken to their impostor syndrome. I won’t answer with that: we are all, as Michael Masiello once put it to me, broken toys here, which correlates with us falling into our knowledge rather than training for it.

I’ve never formally studied Ancient Greek, for example.

I don’t say anything online I’d be ashamed of (including for this question); but then again, I tend to be an open book, both in person and online. In person perhaps less than I used to be.

People on Quora have been surprised about stuff I know that I don’t post about much. My day job being in education technology (h/t Scott Welch), for example, or that I program a fair bit, though not necessarily well (h/t Miguel Paraz).

People have also been surprised about my age. As of yesterday: 45. I certainly don’t act it, and I don’t plan to.

What does αέναη σοφία mean in Greek?

Yes, I’m going to have fun with this.

First: HAH! You’ve outed yourself as a Modern Greek speaker, Anon OP! In ancient Greek, that would be ἀέναος σοφία. Compound adjectives used the masculine ending for the feminine; and αέναη is what you get when noone you know has been aware of Greek vowel quantity for the past two millennia.

Yes, as Dimitra Triantafyllidou and Konstantinos Konstantinides have said, the adjective means “ever-flowing”, from ἀεί “always” and νάω “to flow”: first attested in Pindar and Herodotus. Used of rivers, lakes, the river Acheron (Are there any Greek towns built along the Acheron river in Greece?); and God bless, Aristophanes had to go and invert it, and use it of bogs and shit (Frogs 146).

Looking at the metaphorical uses of the adjective listed in LSJ. They started early: you have

  • glory (Simonides, Heraclitus)
  • honour (Pindar)
  • power (Euripides)
  • tables (Pindar, as a metonymy for hospitality)
  • good words (Cratinus)

So use to refer to wisdom sounds entirely plausible. And in fact the phrase ἀέναος σοφία is used by several theologians:

  • Philo, On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile §151: she went to the ever-flowing wisdom of God, τὴν ἀένναον τοῦ θεοῦ σοφίαν
  • Also: the Epitaph of Pectorius (“ever-flowing waters of enriching wisdom”, Ὕδασιν ἀενάοις πλουτοδότου σοφίης); Diadochus “ever-flowing and completely true wisdom”; Macarius and Anastasius of Sinai “ever-flowing spring of wisdom”; Ecumenical Council of Ephesus “the seas of the ever-flowing knowledge and wisdom of Christ”.

So many instances still make the metaphor explicit, between ever-flowing water and perpetual wisdom; but the earliest instance in Philo doesn’t, and the metaphors with other abstractions, such as glory and power, were well established already.

So. We’ve established that ἀέναος σοφία for ever-flowing wisdom is an established expression. Now to Magister Michael Masiello’s query as to whether “ever-flowing” is the right rendering of “perpetual”.

Etymology is “ever-flowing”. The association with rivers and seas and springs is explicit throughout Byzantium. That’s not unchanging eternity, that’s continually renewing perpetuity. So yes, it is perpetual and not eternal.

Ink away. Philo himself wouldn’t approve the tat (Jewish Orthodoxy is funny about body markings); but his Greek does.

What do we call the process of creating all of the possible morphological extractions of a given word?

In traditional grammar, this is conjugation for verbs, and declension for nominals; both are limited to inflectional morphology.

What city in your country do you feel would give a foreigner the best idea of said country’s culture?

So. Mate. Maaaaate.

Youse wanna hang out in a ciddy where youse’ll get the bestest idear of some dinky-di Aussie culture, mate?

Tough question, because of our parochialism, and because our culture has been shifting noticeably over the last fifty years.

For the old Australia, a regional city. Tamworth, New South Wales, because they play country music unironically?

For the new Australia, Sydney or Melbourne. Sydney and Melbourne still loathe each other, so I can’t give an unbiased answer, and I’ve give you the biased answer of Melbourne.

They’re clines of course: there’s nowhere left in Australia that you can’t get a half-decent latte from, and there’s quite a cultural divide between the hipster inner city and the burbs.

EDIT: I queried this of a better travelled colleague. Her retort: Tamworth would be so desperate to cater to out of town yuppies, that you would not see anywhere near as much Old Australian culture as I’d hope. My two colleagues concurred that Queensland was a better bet, as a more decentralised state. Christine Leigh Langtree, Tracey Bryan, what say you?

Is there a connection between the two lower case sigmas in Greek and the two lower case s in traditional German writing (black letter / cursive)?

The two certainly originated independently. Blackletter started elongating the medial s in the 8th century (Long s); Greek started using the pre-8th century lunate sigma as a final form, from the 11th century on (Letters). Both Greek and Latin scripts invented lowercase at the same time, but there was no real cultural contact between West and East until the 1400s, so this seems to be a happy coincidence.

Wikipedia speculates that the existence of a positional variant in Greek sigma reinforced the persistence of a positional variant in Latin s. I’m not convinced; everyone was using the long s, and had been for a while before the invention of printing.

EDIT (from comments):

When Lowercase was invented in Greek in the 8th century, Σ was long dead (it’s an 18th century revival). The uppercase was Ϲ, and the lowercase became σ, which was used everywhere: Ὀδυσσεύσ.

Someone in the 11th century had the idea that the final sigma would look nicer as the original lunate, rather than curling inwards: Ὀδυσσεύϲ. I can kinda see that: it’s a symmetrical form at the end of the letter; it lends itself more readily to ligatures (e.g. οϲ => something that looks like Co attached at the top); the pen leaves the page at the bottom of the line, not mid-line (so less smudging). A few centuries later, the ϲ got a tail added to it, and became ς.

Something quite different happened in Frenkistan (I love that word), and I don’t get it. I don’t get why all of a sudden an s in the middle of a word in the 8th century would turn into a ſ. I can see the ductus argument for Greek, but not for German. Whatever it is, is wasn’t the same thing.

But Greeks in the 8th century and Germans in the 8th century were using the same parchment and the same pens; so while the details of the scripts might have been different, the pressures on what letters would look like must have been similar.

Is Australia a constitutionally Anglican country?

The question has gotten much more airplay around the Red Mass (including the West Wing episode The Red Mass). And Catholicism isn’t anywhere near as close to a State religion in the US, as Anglicanism would have been in Australia before Federation.

Ulysses Elias’ answer points out the wording in the Australian constitution. A church service on Parliament is not

  • a law for establishing any religion,
  • imposing any religious observance (attendance is not compulsory)
  • prohibiting the free exercise of any religion
  • a religious test as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

It is of course not quite the spirit of what we understand by church–state separation; but it does hew to the letter.

Of course, in reality, while any number of Christian sects kinda coexisted in Australia of olden times, there’s a reason St Paul’s Anglican cathedral is on the central crossroads of Melbourne CBD, and St Patrick’s Catholic cathedral is on the boundary of Melbourne and East Melbourne. It’s aligned to the religion of the head of state of Australia, one Betty Windsor, Fidei Defensatrix . The establishment religion of Australia was the establishment religion of England, which is Anglicanism. These days, of course, that is an historical rather than a living fact.

If you Google yourself, which of your Quora answers pops up first? Why do you think that particular one was selected by Google?

Thanks to my fellow antipodean Barbara Robson, for the reminder that Googling does depend on who you are.

5 most viewed answers:

Top 5, googled as me:

Top 5, googled as anon:

What this says:

  • Google cares about Quora views a bit…
  • … but not overwhelmingly: the random Indian clickbait, and “cheers” translation does not rate.
  • Google knows about me that I’m a linguist.
  • Google knows that Richard White is a popular Quoran.
  • I’d like to say that Google knows that lots of Quorans love my cartoons. In fact, what’s likelier is that all of my cartoons are hyperlinked back to where I first published them on Quora. So Google is picking up the Gallery of Awesomery as a hyperlink hub.

I’m glad Google picks up the Personal Experience with Linguistics question. It was a cathartic exercise.