Why were you banned from Quora?

Well, I haven’t been, but Steven de Guzman has. Three times:

Btw: people do get unbanned. In fact, one writer got banned, unbanned, and made Top Writer, all in the past two months.

Why did Quora remove the Most Viewed Writer section from all topic pages?

Originally Answered:

Why did Quora cancel the Most Viewed Writer topics section in profile? Will there be a new highlights instead of MVW?

Change to Most Viewed Writer by Joel Lewenstein on Quora Product Updates

Which transliterated version of a surname sounds better, Potyomkin or Potemkin?

Yes, English routinely transliterates Cyrillic Ё as E. For that matter, Russian routinely writes Ё as Е. Our transliterations (and your default orthography) aren’t up to date with the last couple of centuries of sound change in Russian.

Potemkin is the most familiar version to English-speakers, since “Potemkin village” is a well known expression (and one they tend to have seen only in print). If they are somewhat educated, but do not speak Russian, they will actually be confused by Potyomkin.

So I’d go with the established, conventional Potemkin rather than the phonetically accurate Potyomkin, myself. But that’s not the modern trend in English; the modern trend is for phonetics over convention (e.g. Beijing not Peking). Not Moskva yet, though.

What forms the basis of the suffix used when describing which country someone comes from?

There are no rules, but there are trends.

  • -ish is used for country names that the English would have been familiar with in the Middle Ages.
  • -ese is used for country names that the English learned of via the Italians or Spanish. That includes East Asia.
  • -(i)an is used as a default for new-fangled country names, or names which look like they are Latin. That includes all country names ending in -y and -ia.
  • -i is used for Arabic-speaking countries; it is an Arabic suffix.

What does your accent sound like in Esperanto?

I have recorded a couple of passages I have read out in Esperanto, but why not a new one.

Klingono, from Neciklopedio, the Esperanto version of Uncyclopedia.

Vocaroo | Voice message

Well, that was fun!

My Esperanto has a mercilessly Greek accent, with no variation in vowel length or quality. In theory, that is optimal Esperanto; in practice, people wince at the rat-tat-tat of it. I think that excerpt I just read out (which was in fact somewhat amusing) made me tone down the rat-tat-tat, if anything.

I have a velar /n/ allophone too. I mean, doesn’t everyone? I think Zamenhof explicitly permitted it somewhere.


The River Thames is important to the history of the British isles. But where does the word “Thames” originate?

Should your Quora bio begin with a capital letter?


Well, it’s messy.


  • A bio (sorry: credential) is understood as a separate component of meaning. That is normally taken as equivalent to a separate sentence, and hence should start with a capital.


  • The bio (sorry: credential) is displayed inline with your name in answers. In fact, it is currently separated by a comma, which means that in that context it is not treated as a separate sentence.


  • Credentials are displayed in menus. The usual practice for options in menus is for each option to be understood as a separate component of meaning—which, again, means capitalisation as a sentence.


  • They aren’t real sentences, displayed in the context of continuous prose. For that reason, people aren’t going to be fussed about capitalisation, and the default behaviour when in doubt is to go for the least marked behaviour. Uncapitalised is the least marked behaviour.


  • I don’t want my bio to look like it’s been txted by someone who ignores the shift key. ;-P
    • Sorry. Credential.

Is it true that redheads are better in bed?

Placebo effect, people.

A lot of this plays out in people’s heads. Not just the redhead-chasers’ heads, but the redheads’ too.

If you live in a culture in which redheads are told they are better in bed, a non-trivial number of redheads are going to believe that they really are better in bed, and act accordingly.

A culture in which redheads are told they are better in bed can, of course, serve for others as added pressure, or as a resented stereotype. But there doesn’t need to be a genetic factor in place, for a cultural perception to become realised in practice.

Of course, you can also say the same about any number of other physical attributes, that get stereotypically associated with being better in bed. It all plays out in the mind. And we aren’t as immune to those kinds of mind games as we like to think.

Could someone who speaks Cypriot Greek tell what “λεγνά” is/are?

A2A, and I don’t speak Cypriot.

Well, this is quite the puzzle.

The lyric goes:

Τ’ άι Φιλίππου δκιάβηκε, τζι ήρτεν τ’ άι Μηνά,
τζι οι κορασιές παντρεύκουνται τζι αλλάσσουν τα λεγνά

St Philip’s day is gone, St Menna’s day is here,
and girls get married, and the slender ones change/and change the slender ones.

I’ve been through several Cypriot dictionaries, and the only definition they give for λεγνός (Standard Greek λιγνός) is “slender, slight”.

Lots of people on YouTube are confused by the term, but the consensus there is that it refers to slender girls, with a hypocoristic (“cutesy”) neuter. Λυγερή “my slender one” is a mainstay of Greek folk song.

So, the slender maidens change? Because they get married?

There’s a song lyric Larkos Larkou – Composer – Musician – Cyprus, which also refers to changed slenders:

Θεέ μου τζαι να πέθανα το Σάββατον το βράδυ
Τζαι Τζερκατζήν που το πρωί να κατεβώ στον Άδη
Πον’ οι παπάδες αδειανοί τζαι τα λεγνά αλλαμένα
Να συναχτούν να κλάψουσιν ξηχωριστά για μένα.

God, would that I died Saturday night,
and descended to the Netherworld Sunday morning
when the priests are empty (at leisure ?!) and the slenders are changed
so they can gather and cry especially for me.

Sunday is when priests are not at leisure, but I guess they are available for funerals, they’re at church anyway. But it would make sense that the male singer would like young girls to cry over his funeral. And on a Sunday, the girls have changed into their Sunday best. So I think that’s what the original lyric means:

“and girls get married, and slender maidens [used here as synonym for girls] change [into their Sunday best, for St Menna’s Day]”