Why do some Quorans tell obviously fictional answers as if they happened for real?

One of the people I’ve been following was accused of that. She did not take kindly to it.

If she sees this, she can answer for herself; I’ll just post my comment to her here:

Even if you did make them up, they’d be communicating a higher truth than the incidentals a security cam would. Those are stories you’re writing, not documentaries.

Where in the Balkan sprachbund did the invariable future tense marker originate?

A capital question.

You were right, Zeibura, in the discussion that prompted this: the Balkans is a big mess of not continuously attested languages and dialects; and the only hints of whether a feature originated in one place rather than another is whether the feature is also present in Koine Greek or Old Church Slavonic—both of which predate the Sprachbund.

We are, as far as I know, out of luck with the future, because neither is the case. The will-future first shows up in Greek about the time all the Balkan stuff shows up, in the 14th century. One of the first instances I know of is in Sylvester Syropoulos’ Memoirs (about the Council of Florence, 1438), when he speaks of Emperor John VIII Palaiologos strongarming Patriarch Joseph II of Constantinople, telling him “you want to agree to Church Union.”

Joseph II wanted no such thing: he was an opponent of Church Union. What John VIII was actually telling him, of course, was: “You will agree to Church Union.”

It is true, as Diana Vesselinova points out, that will-futures are a linguistic commonplace (it also happened in English, after all). But given that every single Balkan language does it, it’s hard to believe there was no influence between the Balkan languages.

You’ve also asked why the will particle is invariable. There’s a parallel phenomenon that was going on in the Balkans at the same time (and this time, we’re pretty sure Greek was the starting point for it): the elimination of the infinitive. We actually see multiple forms competing at the same time in Greek: I will go could be expressed as θelo ipaɣin “I.will to.go”; once you lose the infinitive, you end up with a phrase with both verbs marked for person, θelo na ipaɣo “I.will that I.go”, competing with an alternate phrase with only the main verb marked for person, θeli na ipaɣo “it.wills that I.go”.

The last one is the one that prevailed, with “it.wills that” θeli na ultimately reduced to the particle θa: θeli na > θena > θa. The principle is one of markedness: if the auxiliary only ends up marking futurity, then there’s not much point marking it independently for person. There also would have been analogy with other modals like prepi ‘it.must’ or bori ‘it.can = it is possible’; and θa itself ended up in the same paradigm as the suspiciously similar looking subjunctive marker na.

What is the origin of the surname Piliafas?


Pilafás is a real Greek surname. Googling, the most famous instance of a Pilafas is some businessman’s son cum DJ who’s married the actress Katerina Papoutsaki. Παναγιώτης Πιλαφάς βιογραφικό – iShow.gr


Pilafas means, straightforwardly, “Pilaf guy”. and the -as suffix weighs towards “Pilaf maker”. Pilaf, rice in broth, is an exceedingly popular dish through a large swathe of Asia and Southeastern Europe.

Piliafas is also a real Greek surname. The most prominent exponent thereof on Google appears to be Christos “The Mad Greek” Piliafas, Mixed Martial Arts expert from Traverse City, MI.

In Greece, the most prominent exponent is Andreas Piliafas, who plays in the Corinthian Soccer League. There’s also some junior playing in Ioannina.

Suffixes of Greek surnames are usually regional patronymics, and they tell you where the bearer is from. But this is a professional suffix, and it doesn’t.

The second <i> in Piliafas, which makes it pronounced [piʎafas] (palatal l) bothers me. I’ve got a hypothesis, and I’m very unsure of it.

I’m finding Piliafas’s in Ioannina prefecture and Corinthia. I’ve also found an Albanian businessman (presumably ethnic Greek) in Athens, eChamber, with both a Greek and an Albanian name: Vasillaq Piliafa/Vasilakis Piliafas, son of Theologos.

Pilafi in Greek comes from Pilav in Turkish. In Albanian, it’s pilaf, pronounced [piʎaf]: [pilaf] would be spelled pillaf (like Vasillaq).

Ioannina prefecture is across the border from Albania. Corinthia was traditionally Arvanitika-speaking.

So I suspect that Piliafas is a variant of Pilafas. The variant looks like it applies to the Greek of Southern Albania, and the Greek spoken across the border from the Greek of Southern Albania; it also looks like it’s what Albanian would come up with. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s only Albanian; for all I know, pilâv [piʎav] is also a variant pronunciation in Turkish.

The Corinthia thing may be a coincidence; the Albanian spoken there would have been already cut off from Albania by the time they were introduced to Pilaf.

So: it’s Greek, there’s weak evidence for Epirus or other areas influenced by Albanian; and that’s all I’m getting from Google.

Is Facebook called a different nickname in your country?

The literal calque Fatsovivlio has shown up in Greek, but only in jocular use. (47k hits on Google.)

It’s all the more jocular, because it uses the Italian loanword fatsa < faccia, rather than the Greek prosopo, for face. Loanwords are usually pejorative; Fatsovivlio sounds more like “ugly mug book”. SLANG.gr went one better, using a Turkish (though ultimately Greek) word for “book”, and ending up with fatsoteftero.