Why was my answer sent to the digest if Quora moderation deleted it?

It’s a commonplace that the people (or bots) selecting answers for the Digest are not the same people (or bots) that moderate answers. Answers that appear in the Digest are routinely collapsed after the fact, because the two tasks are undertaken by two separate parties.

Of course, answers get collapsed if they are reported by someone, and moderators agree with the report assessment: Quora is not resourced to collapse all answers proactively. The more visible an answer, the more likely it will be reported by someone, because someone will notice it and not like it.

And answers that appear on Digest are more visible than others.

What would you say the word “protiforate” means?

Being a Greek linguist, my first thought would be to think of proti– as the Epic Greek equivalent of Attic pros– “towards”, as in prosthetic or proselytise or prosody, and to think: “Dude! you picked up the wrong Greek dictionary!”

Then I would notice the <f> of –forate, and realise that no, this has to be a Latin word, and it’s unlikely to be half Homeric Greek and half Ciceronian Latin.

And then I’d defer to Lotte Meester: Lotte Meester’s answer to What would you say the word “protiforate” means? And Lotte, you’re right: don’t put haplologies like that in any exams. 🙂

What would happen if Quora added a video upload option? Would it become “QuoraTube”?

Read Scott Welch’s answer to When do you think Quora is going to end? Read it early, and read it often.

Quora is a business, and its business goal is to maximise the exchange of information—and the advertiser eyeballs that exchange attracts. That’s why they hated infographics: they’re not googleable, so they don’t raise the Google Page Rank of Quora pages, so they won’t attract viewers from Google (which is what advertisers want).

What would happen if Quora adds video upload? It would mean they’ve got a good deal going with a video host, and with Text-To-Speech transformation, so they can get more googleable text out of you. Presumably, they’d make the text googlable on the same page, otherwise there’s no Google benefit.

… I have to say, I think that means both Quora and Google would be very different businesses than they are now.

  • Google prioritising hidden text for Page Rank? I don’t see it. Google putting the effort in to make audio on uploaded videos searchable? Text-To-Speech has gotten astonishingly good, but it’s a huge effort, for not clearly enough payoff.
  • Quora embracing media hard to search with current tools—especially tools they don’t control, such as Google? Unless Quora is bought out by Google (which would not be such a terrible thing), I’m not seeing it.

If Quora pushes video answers, as opposing to tolerating videos accompanying text answers, then Quora will no longer be Quora as we know it: it will truly have embraced a social media role. And I gotta say, it’ll be a social media role even I wouldn’t be comfortable with.

It will, in fact, have become QuoraTube.

And I’d argue that, if you want a Tube site for social exchange, you already know where to find YouTube and FaceBook…

What are some interesting examples of Ancient Greek vernacular?

This is (a) very old and (b) profane. Hope it’s what you’re looking for, Vangeli. Whether or not it’s what you’re looking for, it’s what you’re getting from me.

The Greeks got hold of the alphabet in the early 8th century BC. If you’re studying the history of the Greek alphabet, as I’ve done, you will inevitably come across the graffiti found in 1898, near the Thera gymnasium. Dating from the late 8th century BC, they use a version of the Greek alphabet so archaic, it lacks not only an omega, but even a phi: the /pʰ/ sound was written out just as it was by the Romans, as a pi followed by a Heta.

This particular metrical inscription captured my interest (Inscriptiones Graecae xii 3.537 = Iambica Adespota 29Aa):


If you clean it up, introduce word spaces, and guess which vowels were meant to be long, you get:

ναι τον Δελπ⊢ινιον ε̣ Κριμο̄ν
τε̄δε ο̄ιπ⊢ε παιδα, Βαθυκλεος αδελπ⊢εο[ν]

And if you use conventional Greek orthography:

ναὶ <μὰ> τὸν Δελφίνιον,
ἦ Κρίμων τῆδε ᾦφε παῖδα Βαθυκλέος, ἀδελφεόν.

“Truly, by the Delphic Apollo, here have I, Crimon, something the son of Bathycles, brother of…”

So, what was written down as oiphe, with a <p> and an <h>, is indeed ɔ́ːipʰe… Ok, so what’s the something?

At the time I read this, I had just got hold of the source code of the Perseus Project’s morphological analyser, Morpheus. I typed the word in…

… and got bupkis. I got bupkis, even though the verb ᾦφε belongs to was included in the Morpheus lexical database. The catch is that the verb is on the obscure side with regard to the Classical canon; so it had not been entered manually: it had been automatically extracted from LSJ. And the extraction (at the time) was so poor, that list of verbs was just ignored when the source code was compiled.

That discovery set me on the path to improving Morpheus over the next 12 years, for use in the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, until my contract was not renewed last year; on which see The Decalogue of Nick #2.

But… I’m getting off the topic. That ᾦφε verb, it turns out, is the past tense of οἴφω. And what does οἴφω mean?

If you look it up in the Victorian-era LSJ dictionary, you will get a Victorian-era definition:

οἴφω, Dor. = ὀχεύω I, but only of human beings, τὰν Χελιδονίδα Plu.Pyrrh.28, cf. IG12(3).536 (Thera, vii B. C.), Leg.Gort.2.3; οἰφεῖ, as if from οἰφέω, in prov. ἄριστα χωλὸς οἰ., Mimn.15 Diehl, Com.Adesp.36, Diogenian.2.2. (LSJ)

And… what is this cross-referenced ὀχεύω?

of male animals, cover.

So, oiphō is the Doric for “to cover”, referring to male animals, only oiphō refers specifically to human beings.

There is, of course, a more direct way of glossing the old Doric verb:

“Truly, by the Delphic Apollo, here have I, Crimon, fucked the son of Bathycles, brother of…”

One can debate how obscene the verb actually was. Greek Homosexuality argues that since the word was also used in the Law Code of Gortyn (“oiphō by force” = “rape”), it isn’t meant to be coarse; but it isn’t meant to be as delicate as “cover”, either. (Then again, did profanity work in the same way in Ancient Greek society?) There’s also been fertile debate (see Pederasty and Pedagogy in Archaic Greece) about whether this situated pederasty in a religious context (invoking the god), or just as commonplace bragging.

But whatever the social interpretation, this is indeed an interesting example of Ancient Greek vernacular.

On social media, I notice that people deliberately omit the word ‘I.’ What might be behind that?

None of the answers satisfy me, though Logan R. Kearsley’s is by far the closest to satisfying me.

EDIT: Uri Granta’s answer satisfies me more than mine. Go read that.

There is a colloquial register in English, in which the first person subject is omitted routinely. It predates social media; see, for example the Beatles’ A Day in the Life. The bits Lennon wrote use the pronoun; the middle section McCartney wrote skips it:

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

But contra Logan, I don’t think this is just spoken English. I think this is a particular narrative register of spoken English—it’s a conventionalised way of telling stories, in a punchy way. I don’t think you’ll find it in different kinds of speech, such as say persuasive speech or instructional speech.

How many letters does Unicode currently include in the Latin script, no matter the language, but ignoring upper vs. lower case differences?

Latin script in Unicode – Wikipedia

As of version 9.0 of the Unicode Standard, 1,350 characters in the following blocks are classified as belonging to the Latin script

Let’s remove the uppercase letters; and that leaves us with your answer. From eyeballing:

26+30+128+104+14*8+12+12+67+26 = 517

That leaves 833.

If I’m wrong, I’m not wrong by much.

EDIT: Derek Zech’s answer to How many letters does Unicode currently include in the Latin script, no matter the language, but ignoring upper vs. lower case differences? leaves out more letters than I do, is more thorough, and he sounds more correct. Go upvote him: Vote #1 Derek Zech.

Do dogs understand the concept of dance?

I will not be confused with an ethologist. But I do know that whenever I try to dance with my honey, and our dog is anywhere near, Jenny gets excited, wags her tail, and jumps on us to join in.

Fricking dog.

My understanding with what little I know of ethology is, Jenny does so because she understands dancing as equivalent to dogs’ play-fighting. That, she understands; that’s why she wants to join in. So I’d assume that’s the shortcircuit in her brain, rather than understanding dance on its own terms.

Dogs are also hypersensitive to changes in people’s gait. Jenny gets very agitated when she sees me on a swing; but that’s something I gathered from reading, rather than from Jenny. I think the freakout of dogs seeing the changed gait of dancers would overrule any recognition of controlled gait as communication.