Thank you to the manumitted gnomes

Not a request, other than a request that we show appreciation to the manumitted gnomes, such as Christopher VanLang, who have permission to reorg locked topics, and act on requests here to do.

Thanks, manumitted gnomes! It’s not a coincidence that the Pileus (hat), which manumitted slaves wore in antiquity, looks like a gnome cap:

File:Man pilos Louvre MNE1330.jpg – Wikipedia ; see also Phrygian cap – Wikipedia.

Why is Albanian so different from other European languages?

To expand on Edmond Pano’s answer:

Indo-European languages are not all that similar to each other. That’s why it took so long to establish the family. (It was much more obvious in Classical times, but people in Classical times weren’t paying attention.) The level at which laypeople can tell similarities is at the branch level.

So Danish isn’t from outer space if you’re aware of German, and Spanish isn’t from outer space if you’re aware of Italian, and Czech isn’t from outer space if you’re aware of Bulgarian. (Notice I didn’t mention French and English, which are still quite odd.)

But an isolate branch like Albanian or Armenian is going to stand out, because there’s no immediately close language. In fact the only reason why we don’t say that about Greek more is that people at large are already a little familiar with Greek, because of its cultural influence.

If you’re Greek or Macedonian, however, and leaf through an Albanian grammar, it doesn’t look different at all: the Balkan Sprachbund has made its grammar very close to its neighbours. And if you work out the sound changes, it’s surprising how much of the Albanian vocabulary is chewed-up Latin.

Answered 2016-12-22 · Upvoted by

Emil Perder, Ph D Linguistics, Stockholm University and

Steve Rapaport

Why does the Greek Orthodox Church have religious hegemony in Greece?

Start with Byzantium: Orthodox Christianity was the state religion, and heterodoxy was deemed treason. Jews and Muslims were tolerated in Byzantine Law as second class citizens; heretical Christians got the sword.

In the Ottoman Empire, that continued with the Rum millet: Greek Orthodoxy defined the nation of Romans, which was considered to include Greeks. Catholicism was a minority presence in Greece, and Greek Catholics were deemed not Rum (Romioi, Romans), but Frenk (Frangi, Franks).

When the Modern Greek State was founded, Orthodoxy became the state religion quickly; and it was considered coextensive with Greek national identity. That has allowed it a hegemony that Western Europeans are uncomfortable with; the Church of Greece gets veto, for example, on building places of worship for any creed, which is why there still isn’t a mosque in Athens. Is the 180 Year Wait for an Official Mosque in Athens Finally Over?

Catholics were ignored, and they were small enough in numbers that they could be ignored. Muslims were Turks as far as everyone was concerned, whatever their ethnicity (Turkish, Gypsy, Greek, or Albanian). Armenians were foreigners. There was some Protestant missionary activity in Greece; the Ottomans considered them a distinct millet, and the Greeks… well, the Greeks ignored them too, just like they ignore Jehovah’s Witnesses.

So, partly history, partly construction of national identity, partly privileged role of the state religion.

What is your opinion of Noam Chomsky?

Feh. Screw that guy.

I wrote why on my website, something like 20 years ago (ignore the update date): Anti-Chomsky: English. I was somewhat aghast around 2000, when David Horowitz got in touch with me, asking for permission to quote me.

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about him. (Chomsky, I mean. But not Horowitz either, for that matter.) But:

  • Chomsky was necessary in the 1960s, for introducing the study of syntax into linguistics.
  • Chomsky had a destructive influence on linguistics, by creating a monoculture of linguistic inquiry in the American East Coast and Europe.
  • The things Chomsky & co find interesting about language, I don’t. In fact, noone in Australia does, outside of the University of New England.
    • Chomsky came to town in 1995 and visited my department; I was a vacation scholar at the time in Sydney, and saw him there instead. All my profs had lunch with him. And they couldn’t think of a thing to say to him. They were fieldwork linguists, after all.
  • His theory of language sounds tenuous to me. It may not lack explanatory adequacy, but it certainly lacks explanatory oomph.
  • Politically, he says the kind of things that comes as a revelation to an engaged 20-year old. And, regrettably, attracts the kind of cult of personality that 20-year olds are prone to: there’s a graffiti mural of him on my way to work. To a jaded 40-year old, they’re a mix of “yeah, so what?” and “God, could you be any more naive?”
  • As a polemicist, both in linguistics and politics, he’s an objectionable so-and-so, who defines his interlocutors away.
  • As a writer, he’s an obfuscator. The Chomskybot has a lot more.

How often do you use the “Asked By People You Follow” feature when answering questions on Quora?

Like others, I’ve only noticed it this past couple of days.

I get questions from A2As, from my feed, and from questions that people I follow answer. I don’t anticipate using it that much; my followees are pretty disparate, and the people I share interests with are not shy about A2A’ing me.

How do you translate “blockchain” and “bitcoin” to Latin?

This won’t be good, for the reasons Alberto Yagos said.

The Greek for bit is: Bit – Βικιπαίδεια. Of course. There is a Hellenic coinage recommended by the Greek Standards Organisation: δυφίο dyphio[n], from dyo “two” and psēphion “digit”. The Ancient Greeks didn’t do portmanteaux, which is what this is; but if you want a Hellenic bit, that’s what’s on offer.

So you *could* go with dyphionomisma, where nomisma is a coin.

But honestly, Bitcoin shouldn’t be translated, not only because it is anachronistic, as Katharina Sikorski argues, but because it s a proper name, not a generic term.

Blockchain? I would do back to literal rendering. Chain of ledgers would be Catena Calendariorum—where a calendarium was not originally a calendar, but a ledger. You could say that the calendarium is virtual, but really, Catena Calendariorum is plenty long already.

Does the phrasing of non-trolling Quora questions influence the negative/positive tone and direction of your answers? If so, how?

If the question is not trolling but is still polemical, and I disagree, then part of my answer will be dedicated to dismantling its assumptions. And I might make an aside at the OP.

But there have been many seemingly silly questions, for which I have given serious answers. I like to treat them as springboards.

Do you like Quora’s new “credentials”?

Well, let’s put it this way:

And can you imagine the delighted reaction that would get at work tomorrow!

I’m actually shielded from the worse of the new terror of credentialism, because I obsessively bio’d myself about everything I regularly write on. Let us suppose I am adding a new topic to respond to . Well, that’s not as painful as I feared:

But of course, picking a bio relating to the existing topics of a question was not broken, and no, it did not need to break now, and no, I will not scroll through the dozens of bios I’ve built up.

Quora UI. And of course, this is the debugged version, as Peter Hawkins points out.

For my meme on the subject, see: Quora Credentials by Nick Nicholas on The Memes of Production

Do all men enjoy shemale porn?

I’m leaving out of my answer the role of mtf transgender performers in the transaction—on which see Do real transsexuals and “shemale porn” have nothing in common?, and the transactionality, on which see Is it wrong of me to enjoy “shemale” porn? I know it’s degrading and fetishizing, but what can I do about the fact that I like it?

Uncontroversially, I trust: some cis het men enjoy mtf transgender porn, and some cis het men are repulsed by it.

And that’s spelling out stuff your question didn’t, OP. I don’t know what the stats are on cis gay men enjoying mtf transgender porn. Or for that matter transgender people enjoying it. (Then again, I don’t have the stats on cis het men; I trust someone does, at Pornhub if nowhere else.)

That’s not really the interesting question, and I surmise not the question OP is actually getting at. The question is more, what kind of cis het men enjoy mtf transgender porn—and, more interesting still: what does that tell us about their construction of heterosexuality, and femininity?

Bear in mind that the performers in TS porn are a subset of transgender performances of sexual identity, which themselves are a subset of queer sexual identities.

  • TS porn involves women who have transitioned mtf, but almost never involves them having gender-affirming “bottom surgery” (I can think of only one performer, and she was already established).
  • TS porn involves women who for the most part embrace the social characteristics of femininity (long hair, breasts, makeup): they are not drag performers, who identify as men and satirise the construct, or genderfluid people, whose performance of sexual identity is deliberately ambiguous.
  • TS porn involves transwomen performing solo, with cismen or transwomen, much more than it involves them performing with ciswomen.

What kind of cis het men like TS porn?

Men who are still, at some level, het (or bi). They are attracted to performances of femininity. To be blunt, they are much more comfortable with someone who looks like a women performing fellatio or receiving anal sex, than they would be with a macho bearded man doing so.

There is a societal and a narrowly biological understanding of femininity from the cis het perspective. Viewers of TS porn may be confronted to realise that their construct is broader than just narrowly biological. (Those whose construct isn’t will be repulsed by TS porn, and won’t consume it further.) Of course, porn is always about kink, and that’s part of the kink. The kink clearly exists. (It explains where there are almost no “post-op” performers.) But the kink doesn’t do as much as you might think to undermine heterosexuality.

Hence complaints about TS porn adhering to a heteronormative construct of femininity or attractiveness. Hence why there are few performers who don’t look overtly feminine (though non-zero). Hence, if you think about it, why there are relatively few scenes involving mtf women and cis women.

Of course, mtf women are also shows as tops, both of transwomen and of cis men. It’d be interesting to see whether as many cis het men are OK with those depictions: they pose a bit more of a challenge to heteronormativity. But then again, so does pegging.

Elliott Mason brings up the question Does being attracted to transgender women who have penises, or porn involving them, mean a man is gay? This is a rich source of information, in some part because it has been overenthusastically merged.

Among languages that presently use a non-Roman script, which are most likely to romanize in the coming decades?

As I groused at Brian Collins in his answer: it’s always political.

Scripts are bound to identity, and the major vehicle of identity in our age is the nation-state. So scripts that are tied up with the nation-state as emblematic—say, Greek or Thai—aren’t going away in a hurry.

Minority scripts in a country have been under clear threat, and will remain so. The scripts of India, though, are safe under federalism.

The obvious area where there will be movement are multi-nation scripts; they have been driven by ideology in the past, but that ideology might not be supported as strongly by the nation-state: they can come to be regarded as alien.

The only area I can see this playing out is where it has already been playing out: Cyrillic in the sphere of influence of the former Soviet Union. Cyrillic is already out in Moldova—and not coincidentally, is still mandatory in Transnistria. Cyrillic is obsolete, optional, or contentious in the independent -istans; but the Russian Federation is making sure it’s not going anywhere within Tatarstan.

Of course, the Roman script in the -istans isn’t the vehicle of Westernisation and modernisation: I think that imperative is no longer in play, though it clearly was a century ago. For the Turkic languages, the imperative is pan-Turkism.

Mongolia is the other country to keep a watch on: Mongolian Cyrillic alphabet. I said to Brian that technology isn’t an issue, but Mongolian script does introduce vertical writing, which is awkward, and it hasn’t been in much use anywhere for close to a century. Not that well supported on the internets either: the following preview of the Mongolian script wikipedia is apparently faked.

So Mongolian script is handicapped. I would not be astonished if Mongolian Cyrillic goes away, but the -istans come first.