What is Yevanic?

Yevanic, or Judaeo-Greek, or Romaniote, is the version of Greek formerly spoken by Romaniote (Greek-speaking) Jews. Yevanic language – Wikipedia:

There are no longer any native speakers of Yevanic, or have less than 50 speakers, for the following reasons:

  • The assimilation of the tiny Romaniote communities by the more numerous Ladino-speaking Sephardi Jews;
  • The emigration of many of the Romaniotes to the United States and Israel;
  • The murder of many of the Romaniotes during the Holocaust;
  • The adoption of the majority languages through assimilation.

“A few semi-speakers left in 1987 [in Israel], and may be none now [as of 1996 or earlier]. There may be a handful of elderly speakers still in Turkey. There are less than 50 speakers (2011).” Ethnologue, 13th edition, 1996

http://ins.web.auth.gr/images/ME… (E. Vlahou, G. Kotzoglou & Ch. Papadopoulou, Γεβανική: μια πρόσφατη καταγραφή, Studies in Greek Linguistics 36 (2016): 51–65) presents results of a recent study of Yevanic spoken in New York and Yannina, Yannina being one of the main centres of Romaniote Jewry. The speakers are overwhelmingly over 70, with one speaker under 60 (38); they all report using Yevanic only in childhood or in synagogue (Manhattan’s Kehila Kedosha Janina; Yannina’s own synagoge, Kahal Kadosh Yashan, hasn’t had a bar mitzvah since 2000).

The dialect as described in the paper looks to be what you’d expect: Yannina dialect Greek, with a lot of Hebrew loans. Apparently New York Yevanic has some Yiddish influence as well. There are a couple of idiosyncracies in verb aspect, and some Hebrew or Turkish idioms: “I was struck by desolation” = “I am all alone”, “From today, eight [days] with health” = “Have a good week”, the use of dzes < Hebrew yesh? Hebrew ze? to mean “so-and-so”.

Hebrew loans;

axla “good” < ohel, jeuðis “Jew” < jehudi, kesef “money”, samas “beadle” < ʃamaʃ, taleθ “prayer shawl” (in New York, with Yiddish influence: talis).

What do you think of the new “Featured Comments” feature on Quora?

After two glorious months of having escaped this, this “feature” has finally been rolled out to me.

Like pretty much everyone has said: hamfisted. The World needed demotion of trolling: it did not need three tiers of comments. It did not need yet another premiss for headscratching at what makes a comment featured: there are non-featured comments that the answer author has upvoted, and so far I haven’t seen a quality difference between featured and non-featured comments.

Those of you that answered two months ago: how many of you have made your peace with it? And how many of you have seen it add value?

I will do everything I can to make responses to that in comments be featured. 🙂

How accurate is this quote from Henry Kissinger about the Greek people in Greece?

It’s a Greek urban legend, of the type Greeks love to boost their persecution complex. On the debunking of the urban legend by language blogger Nikos Sarantakos, see:

Was it 1974? Or 1973? Or 1997? Was the issue of Turkish Daily News where it was supposedly published wiped from the archives, as Liana Kanelli claimed? Really?

And as Sarantakos said,

Βέβαια, η διάψευση θα έπρεπε να περιττεύει. Οποιοσδήποτε άνθρωπος έχει λίγο μυαλό στο κεφάλι του, καταλαβαίνει ότι είναι απολύτως αδύνατο ένας παμπόνηρος διπλωμάτης σαν τον Κίσινγκερ να ξεστομίσει τόσο ωμά λόγια! Ακόμα κι αν τα πίστευε αυτά, ποτέ δεν θα τα έλεγε –ή, αν τα έλεγε, θα τα γαρνίριζε με πολυπολιτισμικές και ανθρωπιστικές σάλτσες.

There should have been no need for a denial [by Kissinger]. Anyone with half a brain would know that it is utterly impossible that a wily diplomat like Kissinger would speak so bluntly. Even if he believed all that, he’d never give voice to it; and if he did, he’d garnish it with multicultural and humanitarian sauces.

Not to mention, as commenters on his blog pointed out, phrases like cultural roots, historical reserves, removing them as an obstacle to do strike one as being translated from Greek. (And any native speakers of English reading this, look at the question details. Does that sound like Kissinger to you?)

After some digging, it seems the ultimate source of the alleged quote is something Charles K. Tuckerman, first US ambassador to Greece, wrote in 1872.

The Greeks of to-day : Tuckerman, Charles K. (Charles Keating), 1821-1896 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

p. 145.

The principle upon which the Western powers have governed Greece since her independence of the Turkish power, has been that which Pitt declared in 1792 to be “the true doctrine of balance of power” — to wit, that the power of Russia should not be allowed to increase, nor that of Turkey to decline. After the battle of Navarino, Wellington, the demigod of Englishmen, who had pronounced that victory an “untoward event,” was for making Greece “wholly dependent upon Turkey.” This idea was supported by Lord Londonderry [Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh] who wished to render Greece “as harmless as possible, and to make her people like the spiritless nations of Hindostan.” These views seem to have prevailed in effect over the liberal ideas of Palmerston, who desired to see Greece as independent of Turkey as possible.

The quotes ended up attributed to Castlereigh and Palmerston, but Sarantakos found no corroboration that Castlereigh actually made the Hindostan jibe.

Sarantakos suspects the Kissinger statement was devised by someone inspired by a conflation of Tuckerman’s observation, which had circulated in Greek translation, with something Macauley allegedly said about Hindustan (Speeches in British Parliament, 1835):

I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace the old and ancient education system, her culture, because if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them to be, a truly dominated nation.

Mind you, Sarantakos, as a card-carrying Euro-communist, has no problem with the statement accurately reflecting US imperialist attitudes. He does have a problem with people making statements up as proof.

Cordially Resistant

Blog just launched:

Cordially Resistant

EDIT: Updated Profile

It is widely agreed that the BNBR rules are fair, warranted and just. It is also widely believed that Moderation is often far too strict with their punishments.

Many Quorans have lost their accounts for trivial reasons. They are accused of violating rules, when there is no evidence for such a claim.

We’re not here to oppose moderation, or BNBR. We have one, specific goal:

To urge moderation to act more fairly on reports.

We are inviting you all to join us in our mission to help Quorans understand the necessity of writers being allowed to express their opinions. This isn’t a ‘revolution’ against Quora. On the contrary, it is a respectful request for moderation to evaluate their punishments more carefully.

EDIT: Original Profile

I agree with Kathleen Grace on very little about Quora, but I agree with her comment at https://www.quora.com/What-does-…. So I’m leaving the original statement here.

The many recent bans of teen Quorans reflect the opinion moderation has about teenagers as a group. We have watched countless people lose their accounts for trivial reasons that hardly warrant such a strong response.

This is not a rebellion, we are not setting out to overthrow moderation. However, we do have a purpose.

We are inviting you all to join us in our mission to help Quorans to completely comprehend the cruciality of the teenaged voice. We have all agreed that the best way of doing so would be for all of us to stop writing for one week.

Of course, prior to this soon-to-be-decided date, we are planning on sharing our opinions on a blog. If you are interested, please PM Dylan MacIntyre, Morgan Evans, Ivan Tregear, or Brooke Taylor to let us know if you would like to take part.

Was Quora down today, March 28th 2017?

Was it ever. As posted on Preemptive Real Name block? by Nick Nicholas on Bug? or Feature?,

A number of weirdnesses happened on 2017–03–28, including this [three Quora users turning into “Quora User”], a post disappearing from The Insurgency [Habib Fanny: BNBR violation against myself by Nick Nicholas on The Insurgency], and one of the people here’s answers ending up misattributed to another—before an outage that lasted hours. Seems like Quora’s database(s) were corrupted.

Did Adam D’Angelo name himself Top Writer for 2017?

That’s an absurd notion. D’Angelo is a CEO, he’s not going to micromanage that kind of thing. It’d be embarrassing.

Obviously Quora staff who decide on the Top Writer programme have named him Top Writer.

(… Yes, Quora staff who report to Adam D’Angelo.)

Preemptive Real Name block?

Look, this is probably a bug, and I’ve already reported it as such, but you never know.

Jess H Brewer is now Quora-User-2318, Jess H. Brewer. And Jeremy Glenesk is now Quora-User-2331, Jeremy Glenesk.

Nothing in their edit logs indicates they are being busted for a Real Name violation. In fact, Jess Brewer’s profile. has the blue tick of a verified user.

So this is a bug.


EDIT: A number of weirdnesses happened on 2017–03–28, including this, a post disappearing from The Insurgency, and one of the people here’s answers ending up misattributed to another—before an outage that lasted hours. Seems like Quora’s database(s) were corrupted.

Why is my question about Pegah Esmaili’s ban being deleted instantly instead of posted?

What Heather Jedrus said: Heather Jedrus’ answer to Why is my question about Pegah Esmaili’s ban being deleted instantly instead of posted?

Because they always delete questions asking why a specific user was banned. One reason is for the privacy of that person. There are probably other reasons as well.

Edited to add: There’s no way to get a really good answer to a question like that. Quora will never give any kind of official answer, the banned person isn’t able to answer, and everyone else is just guessing. I think answers to questions like that are at a high risk for BNBR violations and are likely to mostly be rumors and gossip.

All true. The instadelete is odd, but as Sierra Spaulding pointed out in comments (https://www.quora.com/Why-is-my-…), questions about bans are reported vigilantly by Quora users, and most of them are deleted quickly. Quick reporting is likelier.


See also:

I have, after a lot of hesitation, started posting users’ own statements as to their bans on Necrologue. BNBR still applies there, as does a ban on speculation. Users’ own statements, I believe, are exempt from that.

*I* believe.

Should anonymous questions about real people be automatically removed from Quora?

Given the handiwork and calibre of bots we see around us on Quora every day, no question about *anything* should be automatically removed.

Besides. As we are told, all anonymous questions are now being scrutinised by moderation before being published.


If you were allowed to add a symbol to unicode, what symbol would it be, and what would it mean?

I should be recusing myself from this question, because in fact I have added dozens of symbols to Unicode, both as an employee of the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, and as a tapped on the shoulder expert.

When Asmus Freytag tapped me on the shoulder, though, and said to me “We want to finalise Greek: Suggest all the characters we will ever need, so we can close the book on it”—there’s one decision I made that skipped a character, and that I feel a little bad about.

Unicode Greek includes three archaic characters that I proposed to them:

  • Heta, <Ͱ>, was one way of writing the version of eta that some Greek alphabets used for /h/ instead of /eː/. In fact, most scholars just write it as a Latin <h>, e.g. hιππόλυτος for Hippolytus (Ἱππόλυτος); but you will see the tack symbol used occasionally. (U+0371)
  • The Tsan and Pamphylian Digamma were two different sounds in two different dialects of Greek, that had the same glyph, <ͷ> (U+0377).
  • The Archaic Sampi, <ͳ>, was the use of sampi as a letter of the alphabet, corresponding to σσ—as distinct from the normal use of sampi <ϡ>, as the numeral 900. For example, τεͳαράϙοντα “forty” in Ephesus, corresponding to regular Ionic τεσσαράκοντα. (U+0373)

My compunction comes from what I did with the Pamphylian sampi. To quote Wikipedia:

A letter similar to Ionian sampi, but of unknown historical relation with it, existed in the highly deviant local dialect of Pamphylia in southern Asia Minor. It was shaped like

According to Brixhe it probably stood for the sounds /s/, /ss/, or /ps/. It is found in a few inscriptions in the cities of Aspendos and Perge as well as on local coins. For instance, an inscription from Perge dated to around 400 BC reads: ͶανάͲαι Πρειίαι Κλεμύτας Λϝαράμυ Ͷασιρϝο̄τας ἀνέθε̄κε (=”Vanassāi Preiiāi Klemutas Lwaramu Vasirwōtas anethēke”, “Klemutas the vasirwotas, son of Lwaramus, dedicated this to the Queen of Perge”). The same title “Queen of Perge”, the local title for the goddess Artemis, is found on coin legends: ͶανάͲας Πρειιας. As ͶανάͲα is known to be the local feminine form of the archaic Greek noun ἄναξ/ϝάναξ, i.e. (w)anax (“king”), it is believed that the ͳ letter stood for some type of sibilant reflecting Proto-Greek */ktj/.

I am, temperamentally, a lumper rather than a splitter. It was my decision that the Pamphylian letter was a variant of the archaic sampi, and should be treated as a glyph variant of that codepoint, rather than as an independent codepoint.


This means I have made life difficult for anyone working on Pamphylian. They will have to commission a different font, with the archaic sampi pointing the other way around. Or, rather more unlikely, commission a font with two variant glyphs for the archaic sampi, and use software that allows them to pick which variant to display. Or just shrug, and use the Ionian glyph instead of the Pamphylian glyph. (Like my Wikipedia cite does.)

Sorry guys.