What are some of the limitations of truth conditional semantics?

Here’s another limitation: speech acts. A statement of how the world is (a declarative speech act) can be true or false. A command, a promise, or a performative statement (“I hereby declare…”) cannot meaningfully be true or false: it can only be felicitous or infelicitous (that is, appropriate).

Here’s yet another, which Gary Coen already offered: Sense is not denotation, and denotation does not match de dicto references. Statements about The President Of The United States may be now statements about Barrack Obama, but come January, they won’t be. Statements about Superman may be statements about Clark Kent, but you only know that if you’re Superman or the narrator.

Yeah, truth-conditional semantics is reductionist. It’s still a starting point, and a useful one: there’s a lot of sentences that it does work for.

Was Ionian the mother dialect of Herodotus?

Inasmuch as we can trust the ancient sources, Herodotus’ native dialect was Doric, and he may well have been a Carian speaker. As Wikipedia says, we can’t trust the ancient sources anyway: Herodotus

Herodotus wrote his ‘Histories’ in the Ionian dialect, yet he was born in Halicarnassus, originally a Dorian settlement. According to the Suda (an 11th-century encyclopaedia of Byzantium which possibly took its information from traditional accounts), Herodotus learned the Ionian dialect as a boy living on the island of Samos, whither he had fled with his family from the oppressions of Lygdamis, tyrant of Halicarnassus and grandson of Artemisia I of Caria. The Suda also informs us that Herodotus later returned home to lead the revolt that eventually overthrew the tyrant.

]However, thanks to recent discoveries of some inscriptions on Halicarnassus dated to about that time, we now know that the Ionic dialect was used there even in official documents, so there was no need to assume (like the Suda) that he must have learned the dialect elsewhere. Moreover, the fact that the Suda is the only source which we have for the heroic role played by Herodotus, as liberator of his birthplace, is itself a good reason to doubt such a romantic account.

Note that Kos, next door to Halicarnassus, was also Doric speaking; but Hippocrates of Kos also wrote in Ionic. The cultural prestige of Ionia is indeed a likelier explanation, and Wikipedia speculates that “Herodotus appears to have drawn on an Ionian tradition of story-telling, collecting and interpreting the oral histories he chanced upon in his travels.”

There was Doric literature too, but I don’t know of any early Doric literary prose.

How was Greek literature lost through time?

For documents to survive, they needed to be important enough to the copyists to keep recopying, as the technology of books was upgraded—from wax tablet to scroll to codex in capitals to codex in lower case. And they needed to be important enough to be copied multiple times, so that random destruction of books did not eliminate the last remaining copy.

The perishing of the great libraries of antiquity did away with a lot of unique copies of texts. So did the looting of Constantinople in 1204: there were a lot of heretical texts kept under lock and key at the Patriarch’s, which were lost forever.

So the data had to be actively maintained to be preserved. If it wasn’t, what we get is random bits and pieces from garbage dumps. That’s what we have of Sappho, for example. It’s why the only capital letter codices we have are luxury items, such as the illustrated Dioscurides or the Codex Argenteus. Each time the technology of books is upgraded, it’s effort to recopy the text, and effort is necessarily selective. And codices were always susceptible to becoming palimpsests, if noone found them interesting any more.

So what literature was prioritised for copying in Greek literature? The school curriculum. That means the top texts in Attic, the prestige dialect, and Homer, which was the foundation of Greek culture. It did not mean lyric poetry, which was in the wrong dialect and not fashionable. It did not mean Menander, because that was in Koine, and the monks did not get sitcoms anyway. It meant lots of Galen and Hippocrates, because they were of practical use. And it meant huge amounts of theology, because Christian monks were doing the copying.

And there was lots of accidental survival. We have double the Euripides that we have of the other dramatists, for example, because a volume of the collected works of Euripides accidentally survived.

How related are Turkish to Greek culture?

*shrug* Similar. 500 years of close coexistence and bilingualism (not that people can grok that now). Lots of food in common, with traffic in both directions, and different preferences of spices. Several common cultural practices, such as taking shoes off before going inside. Many, many formulaic expressions in common. Significant musical overlap: in some genres more than others, and church music was one of them.

Aziz Dida, as a neighbour of both our peoples, can see it clearer than both our peoples: they’re different, but only if you look closely.

Some of those cultural similarities aren’t even old. One that astonished me was reading a Turkish paper while waiting around a hamam. (I wasn’t the one in the hamam.) I don’t really know the language, but the look and feel, the cliches, the punctuation, the formatting… they were all recognisable from the Greek press. So too were the apartment buildings, down to the clunky old lifts. Those commonalities though is more about common cultural hegemony from an external source—in those cases, I’m guessing, pre-WWII France.

Who are the linguists and language teachers on Quora?

Reporting in.

No longer an academic, but I have a PhD in historical linguistics, and I published over a decade. Mostly in Greek historical linguistics. I also do some computational linguistics, although I’m not sure that’s counted here.

Who are some famous people who annoy you for some or no reason?

Permit me, Quorans, to introduce an Antipodean personality into this thread of woe.

Permit me also to try and comprehend why we have this annoyance for no (or least no rational) reason.

I mean, if you’re not from Australia, this chap looks unexceptional, doesn’t he?

Raffishly unkempt, perhaps. Glasses; he could be studious! A computer in the background: might he be in IT? On a mobile phone: must be always on the go. Looks to be in his fifties: surely not an age bracket anyone can take offence to.

OK. Australians, don’t say anything. That’s my job, it’s my answer.

So. Let me pitch you a story.

A young carpenter by the name of S. Caminetti, travelling the country, from sheep station to dockland, settles down in his native Sydney, marries and establishes a successful building business. It is the Australian property boom, and business is good.

He is affable and charming, with all those virtues Australians appreciate in their tradespeople—those they call sparkies (electricians) and chippies (carpenters) and brickies (bricklayers) and dunny divers (plumbers). And somehow, ten years into his successful building business, he ends up doing building segments, during a lifestyle show on Australian TV.

He’s a hit. The public loves him. He gets a series of TV shows that rotate around building and renovations (now an Australian craze). He gets sponsorships from sundry building-related enterprises. He refuses to let his unlikely fame get to him: in fact, he famously makes a bottle opener out of his Logie Award (the Australian counterpart to the Emmy).

Why on earth, Nick Nicholas, you horrible heartless inner-city effete snob, would you despise such a man? Why would you put your hands over your ears and demand that S. Caminetti vacate your sight, whenever you flick past a show with his whimsical stylings?


Perhaps these images can begin to convey why:

Scott Fricking Cam. Take your blokey bloke hijinks, Scott Cam, and your shit-eating grin, and your bogan tradie antics, and your endless succession of Ocker reno reality shows that all look the same, and your one-man bolstering up of an entire TV network, and your smug condescension, and your banter with your irritating reno reality show contestants, and have I mentioned that god. damn. shit. eating. grin; and get out of my sight.


Fuck me. As if I didn’t have enough reasons to hate Sydney already.

EDIT: I realise, in the torrent of my rage, that I forgot to explain why we hate these people.

As you can see from the images: it’s the overexposure. And the bombardment of media telling you you must. love. this. person.

No, pilgrim. No I must not.

What are some similarities and common things that Greek has with Arabic?

Commonalities between Greek and Arabic?

They belong to different language families—Indo-European vs Afro-Asiatic (which includes the Semitic languages, which also includes Hebrew and Phoenecian); noone has proven a more distant relation between the two.

The alphabet of both derives from Phoenecian; hence the similarity in letter names to this day. That also extends to Hebrew: aleph, alif, alfa.

A few loanwords from Phoenecian in Ancient Greek; like arrabon “pledge” (and later, engagement).

A few more loanwords from Hebrew into Koine, through Christianity, like satanas and amen.

A fair few loanwords from Greek into Arabic, via the transmission of the Classics and Greek science and mathematics.

A few loanwords from Arabic into Greek via contact during Byzantium. (e.g. magazi “shop”, maimu “monkey”).

A fair few loanwords from Arabic into Greek via Ottoman Turkish. e.g. musafiris < mısafır < mosâfer “guest”.

Pretty sure me “with” isn’t one of them. OTOH, me Albanian and Modern Greek are considered cognates.

How do you adjust your question when Quora sends you the vague notification that “this question needs improvement”?

This is more about others’ questions I find than my own, though I occasionally get dinged by the FormatBot myself.

  • Always end the question with a question mark. No, don’t follow it with a parenthetical remark
  • Correct Spelling
  • Correct Punctuation
  • Correct Spacing
  • Boring Punctuation. The FormatBot is a simple beast. Don’t do anything creative with punctuation. If you’re going to cite words or letters, for example, don’t use quotes. Just italicise them.
  • If all those fail, I dunno, keep rephrasing it until it stops. And make the rephrasings progressively dumber and dumber until it does. The more cookie-cutter the syntax and punctuation, the less the FormatBot will find to object to.

I don’t actually hate the FormatBot anywhere near as much as the other bots roaming around here. In this particular context, it does less harm than good: simpler questions are less likely to be Special Snowflake questions.

Symposium at Dimitra’s

Why wasn’t Greece ever islamified like Syria and Turkey?

Greece was affected: in 1800 half the population of Crete was Muslim, and those were converts, not settlers from Turkey.

There’s a very simple answer to why Greece, and much of the Balkans, did not have the same outcome as Syria or Egypt: Greece was conquered by the Ottomans. And the Ottomans had the Rum Millet. As People of the Book under a stable Ottoman realm, the Rum Millet were second-class citizens; but so long as they paid their taxes, they were largely left alone, and they had some degree of autonomy.

The more interesting question (which I don’t know the answer to) is not Why Greece or Serbia were not islamised, but why Albania and Bosnia were.