Why is an Acadian French accent considered funny compared to Quebecois French, which also has a funny accent?

Answer written with no knowledge of Acadien French other than that gathered through episodes of Acadieman.

Remember. Dialects never sound funny because of something intrinsic to the local phonetics. It’s always political. It’s always about the relative prestige of the speakers.

And it’s not about how dialects are supposedly ill-lettered corruptions of the pristine standard language. Canadian French preserves the pre-revolutionary pronunciation of <oi> as /we/ instead of /wa/. How much respect does that win them in France?

In any case, who’s comparing Acadien to Quebecois? Someone with Parisian French? Someone with Parisian French, assuming they’ve even heard any Acadien, thinks Quebecois and Acadien are as bad as each other, a choice between hanging and drowning.

So who’s saying Acadien is funny sounding, and Quebecois isn’t?


Let’s look at the politics. One the one side, a large, compact, relatively homogeneous (outside of Montreal), assertive Francophone population, who have had their Quiet Revolution.

On the other, a minority within a minority, codeswitching incessantly to English (as Acadieman reflects), uncomfortable with both the maudits anglais and the maudits québecois (watch season 3 of Acadieman—if you can find it; I can’t now. It featured Quebec seceding from Canada and invading New Brunswick.)

(Seriously, if you can find it, let me know. It was deeply awesome.)

In that kind of power imbalance, not only will the Quebecois think the Acadiens sound funny: the Acadiens themselves will accept that they sound funny.

And that’s nothing to do with phonetics.

Why does Greece not try to retake Anatolia and Constantinople?

See also the related questions:

Never mind it being an unwise military venture. Never mind NATO. Never mind that Greece needs that like it needs a hole in the head.

Retake what? Anatolia was ethnically cleansed a century ago, and so was Greece. The Muslim Greek-speakers left in the Of valley are there because they’re Muslims, and they’ve made a point of being good Islamic scholars: they don’t want to be reunited with anyone. There’s something like 3000 Rumlar left in Turkey: Greeks in Turkey.

There’s nothing to retake but graves. Germany had a better claim on Kaliningrad, and they passed.

Like I said elsewhere (Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do modern Greek people feel that Istanbul/Constantinople belongs to them?). Constantinople will still be ours. Istanbul will not, once more, be ours.

Why aren’t more people using machine learning on historical linguistics?

Please God no.

For the sentiment this proposal awakens in the soul of historical linguists, refer:

xkcd: Physicists

Plenty of people use machine learning on historical linguistics. They usually end up being picked up by science reporters, getting all the publicity that historical linguists don’t. And when they do, historical linguists roll their eyes, and turn the page.

Historical linguistics involves dirty data. Historical linguists know how to clean it up, and they know what the standards of proof are: that’s the comparative method. The Linguistatron 3000 someone did as their Honours thesis usually doesn’t know how to clean it up, and they get stuck on learning noise.

Why yes, I am arrogant. Why do you ask?

The non-arrogant version of this answer is Brian Collins’.

EDIT: See Steve Rapaport’s answer for a most entertaining instance of linguists cleaning up after a Linguistatron 3000 paper in Science. Pro tip: if you want to know about linguistics, don’t read Science.

Who is the biggest Quoran writer?

Which Quora user has the most followers?

is one metric.

#1 D’Angelo is being followed for reasons of legacy, he rarely posts. #3 Jimbo Wales is active, but not massively active; his followership is more about Wikipedia fame. #2 Balaji Viswanathan is likely your man by that metric.

Which intellectual topic can you just not get into?


It seems that the dismal science, economics, is a popular answer here, and I’ll put my hand up for that as well.

(I just looked up the origin of the phrase The dismal science and… holy shit! Carlyle made up the phrase to decry economics as being amoral, and hence depressing—because economics was concluding that slavery was no longer economically viable! Whereas, Carlyle counterargued most morally and undismally, slavery was what God wanted for the black man!


Digression notwithstanding, the political debates of our decadent age are all about economic stewardship, and it becomes a civic responsibility for us to understand something of them.

But no, I don’t get it. I get that I like the whole Throw Money Down A Well as a model of generating value, but I don’t understand how it works.

I sat in on a lecture on Kant once, and I didn’t get it. So add philosophy. Though I respect that it’s about Really Important Stuff; and I did enjoy the course I took on philosophy of the mind—that seems a bit more concrete.

I’m ignoring the Australian Football League Grand Final on the TV right now, so let me add this almost-relevant anecdote for Lyonel.

When I was doing my PhD, Sunday nights were way too quiet. So I’d put on the community radio Metal show. Because I needed some background noise.

I vaguely liked what Meshuggah they played, but otherwise, the aesthetics that the show hosts were talking about were unfathomable to me. I had no idea why band A was brutal and tight, and band B was derivative and dumb, and what the fine distinctions were between the subgenres.

But they did. And I was happy that they did. It gave me comfort.

Same in fact for Footy Classified now. No idea what Caro Wilson and Craig Hutchison are yelling at each other about. Don’t particularly care, either.

But I’m glad they care. It gives me comfort.

Well, ditto the economists and the philosophers.

Which formerly Ottoman-occupied peoples understand “s–tir” today?

OP noted that there were many answers already stashed away under What does Siktir (سیکتیر) means in Persian? I’ll paste here the comments that Dimitra Triantafyllidou and I left there for Greek. Some quite obvious parallels with Albanian and Romanian, as reported by Aziz Dida and Diana Crețu.


In Greek it just means “Turkish word for ‘get fuckedʼ ”; it’s actually never used in its literal meaning of copulation.

Cretan weddings traditionally take three days, and the final dish served to the guests (typically the entire goddamn village) is a simple rice broth.

The Cretan name for the dish is σιχτίρ πιλάφι sikhtir pilafi. “Fuck-off pilaf.”


There is a Thracian dance (often danced in weddings) called “sikhtir havasi” It’s monotonous, fast and the footwork is not all that easy after you’ve had a few. The idea is the musicians started playing this to get people tired and get them to leave. It’s the first part of the video. It’s not that boring for a minute or two but after that…


The Air in Fuck-Off! And it’s got the same purpose to it as Haydn’s Farewell Symphony! Oh, that’s delicious!

What is the best way to learn to speak Greek fluently?

There’s the generic answer: the fine old Greek saying, Η μισή ντροπή δική σου, η άλλη μισή δική τους. “Half the embarrassment is yours, the other half is theirs.”

Yes. They will think you sound ridiculous, no fear of that. They will also be hugely impressed (especially if they’re in the Greek diaspora), and will encourage your efforts. Dive in. And quote that proverb to them. Give ’em sass. They will love it.

Martin Pickering, back me up?

There are specific answers; see e.g. Dimitra Triantafyllidou’s answer to I’m learning Greek. What is the best way to improve my speaking/grammar skills?

What did your language sound like 1,000 years ago?

Greek: 1000 years ago, the language was already Early Modern Greek. Unfortunately, we have very very very few records of the vernacular to sift from, out of the archaic Greek everyone was writing.

  • We have the Bulgarian Greek inscriptions from 1200 years ago, but by 1000 years ago, the Bulgars were using Slavonic.
  • We have vernacular phrases being quoted hither and thither from 900 years ago.
  • We have vernacular texts that we kinda sorta date from 900 years ago, but their language is probably closer to what the scribes wrote in the copies we have, which is nearer to 700 years ago.

So pinning down the vernacular from 1000 years ago is tricky.

The closest I’ll mention here is this snippet of a song about Alexios I Komnenos escaping a conspiracy from 1031, recorded (with much embarrassment about the vulgarity of the language) by his daughter Anna Comnena in her Alexiad:

Το Σάββατον της Τυρινής
χαρής, Αλέξη, εννόησές το
και την Δευτέραν το πρωί
ύπα καλώς, γεράκιν μου.

On Cheesefare Saturday
rejoice, Alexi, you worked it out.
And on Monday morning
fly well, my hawk.

In Contemporary Greek that would be:

Το Σάββατο της Τυρινής
να χαρείς, Αλέξη, το κατάλαβες
και τη Δευτέρα το πρωί
πήγαινε καλά, γεράκι μου.

Quite close; and for all that I changed two words, the first word (εννόησές) could still be used. The second word (υπάγω > ύπα) is still used, but its conjugation has changed, so people wouldn’t understand it.

The only phoneme to have changed since was υ (and οι), switching from /y/ to /i/. (So ύπα for “go!” was /ypa/.) In fact, we have a poem from 1030, making fun of a hillbilly priest pronouncing upsilon as /i/: so the modern pronunciation was already around at the time of the song snippet.

The only substantive difference, really, is all the final n’s being dropped. My guess: Modern Greek speakers would be reminded of Cypriot, which is phonologically conservative. (It also keeps double consonants; I have no idea when they disappeared from the rest of Greek, but I suspect it was later.)

Oh, that song snippet? Anna Comnena was not going to leave it alone in such vulgar garb. She appends a translation into something more decent:

κατὰ μὲν τὸ Τυρώνυμον Σάββατον ὑπέρευγέ σοι τῆς ἀγχινοίας, Ἀλέξιε, τὴν δὲ μετὰ τὴν Κυριακὴν Δευτέραν ἡμέραν καθάπέρ τις ὑψιπέτης ἱέραξ ἀφίπτασο τῶν ἐπιβουλευόντων βαρβάρων.

On the Saturday with the name of cheese, much commendation for your sagacity, Alexius. And on the day of Monday after the Sunday, just like some high-flying hawk, you have flown away from the barbarians who meant you harm.

What are topics you consider yourself knowledgeable in but don’t discuss often on Quora?

Flattered you’ve A2A’d me, Habib. You’ve A2A’d some good people.

I program; I don’t program well or often, and I mostly program in antiquated languages (I maintained C code from 1985 for a decade, and Perl is my default language), but I program, sometimes even for my day job—my CTO has forced me to pick up Ruby and Golang. Miguel Paraz has been bemused that I don’t post about that, and gratified that I’ve started to (very little). I’m slowly getting back into NLP, and I may end up using the resources here for that.

The techo Quora is rather different to the humanities Quora, btw. The style’s more wooden. 🙂

School sector IT policy, and educational IT standards. By a strange set of happenstances, they’re my day job, and I’ve actually gotten reasonably knowledgeable about them over the past five or six years. It’s fairly niche stuff, so I haven’t had much excuse to talk about them here—although I’ve managed to talk shop with Scott Welch about them.

Artificial languages, including Esperanto, Lojban, and Klingon. They’ve taken up a huge chunk of my youth, and my online fame; and speakers of all three are on here. But they haven’t generated the traffic for me to get into them often.

I do talk a whole lot about topics I am not knowledgeable about, to compensate. I know how to use Wikipedia constructively…

Were all books of the New Testament written in perfectly correct Koine Greek?

Revelation is notorious for its grammatical errors; google Revelation and Solecism (fancy Greek for “bad grammar”) or Barbarism (fancy Greek for “L2 Greek”). You’ll see lots of attempts at explaining it, from the straightforward “he barely spoke Greek” to “he was cutting and pasting bits of the Septuagint without adjusting the grammar” to “there’s a deeper theological reason for it”.

Someone recently did a PhD on it, which seems to get a bit too theological for even theologians, as seen in this review of Morphological and Syntactical Irregularities in the Book of Revelation.