The Magister tripped me up this morning with the very first sentence I saw from him.

Michael Masiello’s answer to How do I avoid atheists? I have this fear that atheists will ridicule me for being a theist.

Andrew Weill and others have bewrayed the remarkable difficulty of your undertaking.

Bewrayed? Bewrayed? Obviously no typo for betrayed. Well, not that obvious: the Magister is at times a bit of a butterfingers. But certainly worth checking out.

the definition of bewray

verb (used with object), Archaic.

Archaic. No shit.

  1. to reveal or expose.
  2. to betray.

So I guessed right. And it would seem quite possible that the current verb betray has coloured the modern interpretation of the archaic verb bewray. What is the etymology, anyway?

1250-1300; Middle English bewraien, equivalent to be- be- + wraien, Old English wrēgan to accuse, cognate with Old High German ruogen (German rügen), Gothic wrohjan

Right. So something that accuses you, gives you away, if you will. Which is pretty close to “betraying” you, and looks like that meaning has merged into it.

Is there an inverse relationship between social mobility and prevalence of formality in language?

I have been invoked by Heinrich Müller, and I corroborate him. Sociolinguistics, after all, is sociology.

(Vote #1: Heinrich Müller’s answer to Is there an inverse relationship between social mobility and prevalence of formality in language?)

The classic study of formality and social level is Labov’s “4th floor” study, in 1966 New York. Or should I say, New Yawk.


Prestige (sociolinguistics) – Wikipedia

Labov and the R | Unravel Magazine

Labov’s New York Department Store

Labov walked into Saks (upper class), Macy’s (middle class) and Klein’s (lower class), and asked for directions to something that was on the fourth floor. Which, in lower class New Yorkese, was fawth flaw. And in upper class New Yorkese, was fourth floor.

The shop assistants in Saks said fourth floor the most. That doesn’t mean they were upper class, but that they were the most compliant to class practice.

But the most anxiety about saying fourth floor was at Macy’s. When you said “pardon?” there, they would immediately rush to correct their fawth to fourth. And they overused (hypercorrected) their r’s the most.

The middle class are socially mobile—or at least, they like to think they are. Studies have repeatedly confirmed that have the most anxiety about sounding formal, which often extends to hypercorrection. They have something to prove; those who have already arrived, don’t. And of course, these are not just sociolinguistic phenomena, they extend to the behaviour of the social mobile in general.

For which, see illustration in Keeping Up Appearances. Or in the contrast between, say, the Real Housewives of Orange County and the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

How does Nogay/Nogai sound to foreigners?

I keep protesting that I have a tin ear, but I get these A2As anyway! I also have never heard any Central Asian Turkic, so I don’t have a fully informed standard of comparison.

The songs and the conversations do sound very different. The trumpet song sounded very cool, but it did not sound Turkic at all. If you put a gun to my head, I would have guessed Armenian.

Please don’t put a gun to my head, by the way. I do have a tin ear.

The conversations on the other hand sounded very Turkish, and I assume whether the speakers are in Russia or Turkey has a lot to do with it. They certainly sound more Turkish than Azeri does to me. I can see why others compared it to Korean: there is a nice staccato pace there, not like the mumbling I heard in Istanbul, and the a’s were very clear and central, not back at all.

How and when did you become a Hellenophile?

I have attempted to recuse myself from answering this, being ethnic Greek myself. But Desmond James has importuned me to answer with my Australian hat on, and I do appreciate a challenge.

So I will meet this challenge with generalities, reflecting on the hellenophiles and/or philhellenes that I have encountered.

Hellenophile is not an established term, by the way, whereas philhellene is. But I can easily see a nuance between them. A philhellene has a romantic attachment to Greece, and is typically politically invested in Greece. Or at least, that’s how Greeks think of it. Hellenophile is a novel coinage, and it can be less emotionally loaded. It can just refer to someone who is a fan of Greek things.

I am also going to be biased towards interest in Modern rather than Ancient Greek things.

So how have I seen people become either?

  • Marrying a Greek is always a good start. I’ve seen that be a factor, although sometimes it’s been a cause and sometimes it’s been an effect.
  • Fascination with ancient Greek culture, often via the most kid friendly version of ancient Greek culture, which is sanitized mythology. Often enough, this leads to an interest in what happened next, and I know of several foreign experts in modern Greek who started out in Classics.
  • A holiday in Greece, strategically timed for when you are open to new interests. Of course that will depend a hugely on where you choose to holiday. Going to the wilds of Southern Crete and hanging about with shepherds is likelier to have such an effect than a package holiday weekend throwing up in Malia.
    • Malia. *shudder*
  • Less often, a chance encounter with Modern Greek culture, music or literature.
  • I haven’t seen this myself, but there is a stream of converts to Orthodox Christianity at least in the States. That may be another contributor, although Orthodoxy in the states is not as ethnically bound up as it is elsewhere.