Who were the biggest enemies of Greek?

Originally asked: Who were the biggest enemies of Greek?

Austin R. Justice writes in his excellent answer (Vote #1 Austin R. Justice’s answer to Who were the biggest enemies of Greek? ):

I’m going to assume that you meant “enemies of the Greeks” or “of Greece.” Personally, I don’t know anyone opposed to the language!

The biggest enemies of Greek are, of course, those endless generations of British public school students before you, Austin, who had no real choice as to whether or not they were subjected to the rigours of the Ancient Greek verb system. The ones who were boxed around the ears by their masters, to the sound of “THERE IS NO FUTURE SUBJUNCTIVE!”

Joke’s on them, btw.

Nicholas, Nick. 2008. The passive future subjunctive in Byzantine texts : Byzantinische Zeitschrift. Volume 101, Issue 1, Pages 89–131.

As for the possibly intended question “Who were the biggest enemies of the Greeks”:

The Primordial Enemy for the past 200-odd years have of course been the Turks.

Recentism has effaced the fact that 500 years ago, there was probably more resentment about the Venetians than the Turks among the peasantry in the Greek islands. The Ottomans may have imposed a capital tax and recruited Janissaries, which provoked plenty of hatred; but they did not institute corvée, and they left the Orthodox senior clergy alone.

Recentism also is foregrounding the Germans, but that’s pretty superficial. (He says, from a safe Antipodean distance.) There is an undercurrent of grudging admiration for Germans too. The 2 AM to 4 AM guard watch in the army is colloquially known as “The German Watch”—since you’d have to be a German Übermensch to deal with doing guard duty at that ungodly hour.

Who is your favorite musical composer (1500-now)? And why?

I am on a lifelong mission to annoy Victoria Weaver by saying:


But if I’m to be completely honest, it’s Bach.

Mahler, because of the cathartic emotional extremes, the amazing orchestrations, the largescale forms, the cogent narratives.

Bach above Mahler, because of the sublime joining of intellect and passion, and (I hate to admit) because it can communicate to you even if you aren’t paying rapt attention (which is why I default to it at work).

Which language is older, Persian or Arabic?

Mehrdad, unlike the other respondents, I will disappoint you with a meta-answer. But it is the truer answer.

There’s no such thing as an older language.

Let me transpose the question to Iberia. People often say, “Woah, man, Basque is like, the oldest language in Europe, man! It’s like, as old as the Cro-Magnon!”

That’s crap. Basque is as old as Spanish is.

“But 2500 years ago, they didn’t even speak Spanish, man! They spoke, like, Latin!”

Yes. And 2500 years ago, they didn’t speak Basque either. They spoke Aquitanian language. Which was the ancestor of Basque.

“But man, they didn’t speak Latin in Iberia, man! They spoke that in Italy! And they totally spoke Aqui… Accu… Aquaman in Iberia, man!”

Yes, but you didn’t say “what is the longest continuously spoken language family in Iberia, without involving major territorial changes.” You said “oldest language”. And Basque is no older than Spanish in that regard. There was an ancestor of Spanish spoken 5000 years ago (somewhere far to the east), and there was an ancestor of Basque spoken 5000 years ago (maybe closer to Spain, maybe not).

So. Same for Farsi and Arabic.

  • In 600 BC, we have in inscriptions in Old Persian, which is an ancestor of Farsi. (But is not, itself, Farsi.)
  • Much later, in 150 BC, we have Pahlavi texts in Middle Persian, which is a closer ancestor of Farsi. (But it is still not, itself, Farsi.)
  • At around 150 BC, we have the first indications of Arabic, as names embedded in texts in the Nabataean language. So we know that Old Arabic was spoken in 150 BC. (But Old Arabic is not, itself, Quranic or Modern Arabic)

So, OK, Old Persian is older than Old Arabic. But Arabic did not drop out of the skies into Nabataean. At around 600 BC, people were speaking an ancestor of Arabic. Something *like* Dadanitic (though probably not Dadanitic itself).

So you tell me:

  • 600 BC: Old Persian — Dadanitic
  • 150 BC: Middle Persian — Old Arabic
  • 800 AD: Early Modern Persian — Classical Arabic
  • 2000 AD: Farsi — Modern Arabic

Is one older than the other? Why? Because it has the word “Persian” in it? Because it might (*might*, I actually don’t know) have changed slower? But that doesn’t make it older. Old Persian is still not the same as Farsi, any more than Dadanitic is completely different from Modern Arabic.

Do we have more old written literary texts in the Persian branch than in the Central Semitic branch? Sure. But that’s not what “older” means. That’s what “older literary use” would mean.

And FWIW, Dadanitic was spoken in traditional Arabic territory, just like Old Persian was spoken in traditional Farsi territory. So we don’t even have a scenario like Basque vs Spanish, with Latin coming into a new territory.

What do you think when you hear the words, “United States”?


(And I’m doing a lot better than the average Australian.)

So, who do I got to apologise to?

(Looks it up.)

States I forgot:

  • Missouri
  • Utah (WOW)
  • Kentucky
  • Arkansas
  • New Hampshire (WOW)

States I misplaced:

  • CO
  • IO
  • NE
  • KS (not KA)
  • TN
  • MN
  • VE

Honestly? Better than I expected.

Quora: Could you post a picture of the place where you connect with Quora?

I connect with Quora at the café on the way to work: The Ambrosiary

I connect with Quora on train to (and from) work:

And I connect with Quora at the café at work: Mughouse | Facebook

… when I’m not dad-dancing to the tracks playing as I walk in, or doing stupid banter about today’s blackboard message with the staff. (Today: “Coffee helps me maintain my ‘Never Killed Anyone’ streak.”)

Is Quora a social networking website?

Originally Answered:

Is Quora becoming a social networking site?


There is ongoing debate as to whether Quora is a social networking site or not:

The debate is getting confused as to whether it has the tone of popular social networking sites or not. Because obviously (to me), a site where you have followers and comments and can interact with people with whom you have common interests is a social networking site. And Quora has had that functionality from the very beginning—though it tried to conceal it under the weird Credits (discontinued Quora feature) economy, and Adam D’Angelo is rumoured to have wanted to do away with comments.

The real question implicit there is whether Quora is being less than it should be, because of the increased emphasis by users on using Quora socially.

  • Well, if you ask me, the putative mission of Quora to share and grow the world’s knowledge is as vague as a mission statement should be, and certainly doesn’t preclude it being a social networking salon.
  • The thinking of D’Angelo & Cheever from 2010 that it should somehow displace Wikipedia and Google, as the go-to place for everyone on the interwebs to get information, was always laughable, and has been mercifully forgotten. That’s not the kind of focus that Quora should have had to begin with.
  • Quora has a good niche as an intellectual(ish), polite salon for discussion. That does not preclude pure knowledge seeking and factual succinct answers, but that’s not the Quora I’m primarily experiencing or enjoying. And as Yishan Wong once wisely said: Quora is a great place to answer questions, but not a great place to get your own question answered.
  • As Laura Hale has abundantly documented, the way Quora is used in India is much closer to conventional social networking, and this has led to any number of clashes between Indian users and non-Indian users.
  • There’s a lot more users, and a lot more banter, and a lot more selfies on Quora than there were in 2010. So there’s more frivolity.
    • Then again, Quora in 2010 was a bunch of geeks talking about startups. Yawn. I seek intellectual exchange in the humanities on Quora (as well as banter); I’m far likelier to get it now than back then.