Would you give up your mother tongue for a common world language, if you knew that it would unite all people?

Thx4A2A, Irene. I’d say that in Armenian, but my wife doesn’t speak it. 🙁

This is a painful question for me, as I was an Esperantist for a fair while.

But even before the Espereantists split about whether the “final victory” was worth messianically waiting for, they were very careful not to convey a message that Esperanto would displace ethnic languages (even though, if the hegemony of the final victory ever happened, that would be the expected outcome). Esperanto was always meant to be a second language only.

I won’t address the fact that the hypothetical is implausible, that a common language would not unite all people, as proven by every civil war ever.

I will say that my identity as an English-speaker and a Greek-speaker is definitional to me, and I will not wish to relinquish it.

The march of technology means that we’re going to see similar challenges to our identities within our lifetimes, even if not this one. I’m pretty sure I’m going to be on the wrong side of those challenges, myself.

Why hasn’t Turkey adopted federalism if it is big enough and divided into seven regions?

Vote #1 Emre Sermutlu’s answer. Because I’m just some random Greek. Emre Sermutlu’s answer to Why hasn’t Turkey adopted federalism if it is big enough and divided into seven regions?

Turkish Quorans may know me as an interested neighbour (Greek). Being Greek, the para about Turks being forced on the defensive in Emre’s answer is one that of course I’m going to disagree with. The Young Turks were plenty nationalistic on their own. The real point was that both the Young Turks and the Greeks and Armenians were not prepared to live together in a multiethnic Ottoman Empire—even if it was no longer one where the Muslims were privileged.

But with the overall tenor of Emre’s answer, of course I agree:

Different groups must like each other enough to be the part of the same structure, yet they must feel [my edit] different enough to warrant their own sub-structure.

And of course, there’s a third component. The ruling class of the country must not feel threatened by the difference of groups in the structure.

The guys in Trabzon, who Emre says will beat you up if you advocate for their autonomy, would also be sympathetic to the stunting of Turkish dialectology until fairly recently in Turkey: “There are no dialects of Turkish! There is only Turkish!”

And before anyone says anything, Greece has long done exactly the same thing.

Which Greek island is the best for traditional music and culture?

You want an island that’s a little out of the way of mass tourism, so you can see some local music and culture. Or an island that’s big enough that not every part of it is soaked with mass tourism.

You won’t see much, this is 2016 after all. And as I posted here (Nick Nicholas’ answer to What should I know (but don’t) about the culture and history of the Cyclades in general and Syros in particular?), the indigenous dialect of the Cyclades (the most archetypal Greek islands) died out a century ago.

I actually haven’t done the Greek islands, partly because that’s exactly the kind of thing I’d be looking for, myself. I’ll make a wild guess:

  • Of the Ionian islands, not Corfu, probably not Zante. Maybe Cephalonia.
  • Of the Northern Aegean, Thasos and Samothrace definitely (but why would a tourist want to? 🙂 , likely Lemnos. Lesbos is big enough that there are traditional bits left, and even visible differences within the island (I’ve been there), but you have to hunt them down.
  • I don’t even think of Euboea as an island, but: Euboea.
  • Of the Cyclades, I’d go with any island you haven’t heard of. Folegandros, maybe, or Amorgos. But I’m guessing here.
  • Of the Dodecanese, I suspect all of them; 11 of the 12 are tiny and out of the way, and the 12th, Rhodes, is big enough that something indigenous will have survived the tourists.
  • Crete. Of course. Not the coast around Iraklion. Ever. But the hinterland? Yes.

Where are the attractions to visit in Melbourne?

Melbourne isn’t Sydney, with its really obvious, beautiful sights. It doesn’t really have any obvious, landmark attractions. It’s more atmosphere and aggregate of experience.

In the CBD: walk around the alleyways for the funky graffiti and nouveau restaurants. Stare up, and admire the Victorian and Art Deco goodness of a confident, rich city.

Walk down Southbank, especially in decent weather (when that happens): it’s a lovely, bustling promenade.

Pop up to Lygon Street, Little Italy, for the gelati and coffee culture; less now for the students from Melbourne Uni, because uni students aren’t as interesting as they used to be.

Go down to the St Kilda pier for a stroll along the beach (such as it is, this is Melbourne after all), and take in the self-conscious bohemia of Fitzroy St and Acland St. You didn’t live here in the 90s, so you won’t feel the stabbing pain in Acland St of what it used to be: a slice of the shtetl turned into deracinated hipsterville. Just enjoy the hipsterville show. If it gets too much, the shtetl is still around the corner in Carlisle St.

Walk through the myriad of public gardens and parks. The Botanical Gardens, the Fitzroy Gardens, Flagstaff.

Go to the ethnic enclaves. Little Greece in Oakleigh; Little Vietnam in Richmond; Little Turkey in Brunswick St, Little Spain in Johnston St. Eat, and eat widely: we have a critical mass of culinary diversity, and culinary innovation.

What is the etymology of “Therasia”?

The Just-So story of antiquity is as Konstantinos Konstantinides put it: Thera the island was named for its colonist Theras, and Therasia for his daughter.

Yeah, I find that too convenient too.

I’m not looking up Pauly or anything reputable like that, but I will work from the corresponding common nouns. Thēr means a wild animal, and thēra meant the hunt, hunting for wild animals, game. Thērasios is the adjective of thēra, “of or relating to the hunt”. The feminine of Thērasios is Thērasia. So “hunt” and “hunting (island)”.

Oh, and Theresa does indeed come from the similar adjective Thēresios. It started out as a synonym of Artemis, the hunter goddess.

Since Quora rewards populist writers, what else can be done to try and promote deserving but little-known users?

The mob will vote for what the mob likes. And the Quora Facebook feed will give the mob what it wants.

You’re Anon, which automatically makes you the enemy unless you’re that one Anon guy talking about Turkish, or that other Anon guy who is actually me; but I’ll answer.

Be the change.

Upvote the voices you like. Follow them and encourage them.

Know that they won’t get a mass readership, and that’s actually probably just as well. But for the topics you’re passionate about, curate good quality conversation. That includes A2Aing and asking good questions.

Post questions like, I dunno, Who are the 3 people you follow that have the fewest followers? How many followers do they have, and what are your reasons for following them? (Thank you again for the idea, Martin Silvertant.)

In which country have you discovered after spending some years that local citizens are chauvinists? Not racists but extreme nationalists?

What you’re after is a country with an exaggeratedly strong nationalism, to the point of chauvinism, but not spilling over into racism. So you want a maxed out civic nationalism.

France invented civic nationalism, but they asssimilated all their indigenous minorities aggressively, and they’ve botched their assimilation of the Beurs, so that’s not a good example.

I’ve lived in three countries, Australia, America, and Greece, all with healthy chauvinism.


There is a (popular?) school of thought in Greece that is xenophobic and racist. There is an (elite?) school of thought in Greece that emphasises culture over ethnicity, and exults that as long as you embrace our culture, you’re one of us. And they trot out Isocrates, Panegyricus §50 to support that: Isocrates

I have no problem accepting what Wikipedia says—that this is not what Isocrates meant at all, and the passage was actually an assertion of Athenian cultural chauvinism. And I don’t care. It’s a valid viewpoint, not because Isocrates did or didn’t say it, but because civic nationalism is a healthy thing that the Balkans needs more of.

Historically, “people are called Greeks because they share in our education” is what’s happened with the Arvanites and the Vlachs, to mention the two “loyal minorities”. And my (elite?) heart rejoices, when I see little second generation Zaireans speaking in Greek slang. Or knowing that the Nigerian Dr. Sam Chekwas so fell in love with Greek culture while he studied there, that he ran the only Greek bookstore in Astoria NY (Greektown, America), for decades.

You know the Greek Nazis chanting Δε θα γίνεις έλληνας ποτέ, Αλβανέ, Αλβανέ? (“You’ll never be a Greek, Albanian!”)

Those fuckers will never be as Greek as Dr Sam Checkwas.

… But. That’s the elite storyline. I think the popular storyline is winning. And that Greek nationalism is contaminated with racism.


Australian nationalism was contaminated with racism from the beginning. The White Australia policy wasn’t an aberration, it was part of what defined both the Commonwealth of Australia and the Australian labour movement.

It got up-ended in the late seventies, by the elite. The elite defined Australia to have civic nationalism. That was the actual point of multiculturalism—a point lost on the masses, who think it was only about “um… cuisine?”

Once again, I rejoice in that civic nationalism. I rejoice that I can be proud to be a citizen of this country, without having to genuflect at the altar of Damper (food) and Aussie Rules. I rejoice that no fucker gets to tell me “Go back to where you came from”.

But that’s a luxury of Greeks now being pretty well assimilated (I’m an outlier generationally—my parents came here at the end of the wave, and I spent time growing up in Greece). As you may know from the news, plenty of Australians never stopped telling people to Go back to where they came from; they just have been targeting more recent arrivals. And blocking even more.

So Australia’s not off the hook either.


The US, too, was founded on racism.

But you tell me, American Quorans. Can an African-American, despite the lynchings and the whips, despite the microaggressions and the macroaggressions, despite feeling besieged and occupied in their own country—look at the flag, and still say “USA! Fuck yeah!”?

If they can, Dimitris, you have your answer.

For every meme, there is an equal and opposite, except even dumber meme. But somehow…

… I think the existence of this meme means something.

Identify how linguistic is related with historical linguistics?

Well, linguistics is the scholarly discipline whose subject matter is language.

Historical linguistics is the scholarly discipline whose subject matter is the development of language through time. It explains language in terms of how it historically developed to get to this point (its diachrony).

Up until the 1920s, historical linguistics was the mainstream of linguistics. Saussure, himself an important historical linguist, identified that language is a system which needs to be made sense of on its own terms, as a contemporary phenomenon (its synchrony).

This led to Structuralism, which uncovered a lot of the structures of language that Historical Linguistics had missed, because they were treating language as a process and not a system. Historical Linguistics for example did not really differentiate phones and phonemes; it didn’t need to. The distinction is essential to phonology. And after Structuralism, other approaches to linguistics have continued to be synchronic.

Historical linguistics has been marginalised in all of this, and is very much niche now. Historical linguistics has been enriched by our better understanding of synchronic linguistics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics. But it is unfortunately out of fashion, with a lot of shortsighted linguists thinking it’s boring and old hat.

Fashion. Never forget that all of scholarship—not just the squishy humanities, but the sciences as well—are about fashion. There are fields of inquiry that fall out of fashion, and it’s not always for objectively sound reasons.

I aspire to play in a pit orchestra. Can you say anything to crush my dreams?

Inexplicably, OP, you’ve A2A’d me.

I played in school orchestra, and gave that up for university. I did have my dreams crushed later, with academia.

And for all that it’s the worst thing to have happened in my life, I would not take it back. It’s made me who I am.

So I don’t know about pit orchestras, although I am grateful for what they do, but I do know about dreams being crushed.

Allow me to say some avuncular shit per your request. Some of it will crush your dreams. Some of it should. None of it means you should not pursue the profession.

  • Even the dream job is still just a job.
  • With petty admin shit, with office fights, with jealousies, with long hours, and with not enough personal validation. There’s group validation, as part of a team; but that too is fleeting. It’s work.
  • The pay is shit, and you gotta eat. Expect to be doing a day job. If you’re lucky, it’s a day job with its own set of fulfillments. If you’re unlucky, it’s like your night job, but even worse. Work out whether you’d be cool teaching or not.
  • It’s not a soloist gig, but it’s still a gig to which many are called and few are chosen. (Unless you’re a violist; they’re always in demand, and it’s worth the lameass viola jokes.) Have a plan B. And C, and D. In fact, that applies now for any job ever, but it especially applies to the performing arts.

You know what I’d tell starry eyed kids wanting to do a PhD in linguistics? Do it, only if you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else in life. Otherwise, spare yourself the heartache.

I’m proud that I talked my best student out of it, and I hope she’s got a fulfilling career as a psychologist somewhere.

If your inmost soul craves being in a pit orchestra, Hayley, make it happen. But please go into it with your eyes open.

The fact you’re asking this suggests you will. Good luck!

*checks profile*

Oh and OP? You’re 16. You’re British, which means your uni situation is not as dire as in the US, so you still have time to dip your toe in and change your mind.

Are there any aspects of your native culture / country that foreigners hardly ever understand?

This has been mentioned several times elsewhere here, and it’s not just Australian, it’s a British inheritance. Though I think we here have ramped it up to eleven. And it certainly disconcerts visitors. Hell, it’s disconcerted me.

If Australians like you, they will make merciless fun of you.

If they’re being civil to you, that’s when you worry.

This has been brought up here as a partial explanation for Australians’ casual racist sounding banter: that the emphasis is on the banter, and the racism is not malicious. Maybe, maybe not; it’s complicated. But we certainly aren’t a nation to tiptoe about race relations, for better and worse.

But yeah. I did a launch of our department’s Working Papers, which I’d coedited, when I was 25.

I was heckled.

That was apparently a show of affection and respect. Who knew.