Michael Masiello’s answer to If a healthy person suddenly starts preparing for their funeral, does that mean they’re subconsciously aware of impending death?

I suppose if someone were to make these arrangements while on Ambien, in a remarkably focused somnambular state, one might say the person was unconsciously aware of impending death. But “subconsciously” just doesn’t seem intelligible here.

Definition of SOMNAMBULAR

of, relating to, or characterized by somnambulism


Definition of SOMNAMBULISM

  1. an abnormal condition of sleep in which motor acts (as walking) are performed
  2. actions characteristic of somnambulism

Oh, so you mean…

somnambular (Collins)

(Medicine) relating to sleep-walking


And of course:

somnambulism – Wiktionary

From Latin somnus (“sleep”) + ambulo (“to walk”) + -ism.

The word I was actually unfamiliar with in the Magister’s passage was Ambien:

Zolpidem – Wikipedia

Zolpidem (originally marketed as Ambien and available worldwide under many brand names) is a sedative primarily used for the treatment of insomnia. It works quickly, usually within 15 minutes, and has a short half-life of two to three hours. Zolpidem has not adequately demonstrated effectiveness in maintaining sleep, unless delivered in a controlled-release (CR) form. However, it is effective in initiating sleep. Its hypnotic effects are similar to those of the benzodiazepine class of drugs.

Ads under lightboxes

This was pointed out to me by a correspondent who wishes not to draw undue attention to themselves as an Insurgent. That’s my job, apparently.

Lightboxes. A feature I’ve yet to see anyone like.


… for advertisers.

Lightboxes are a feature alright, not a bug.

Question now is: were they a feature motivated primary by helping Quora users pay more focussed attention to a “story”?

… Or to the ad underneath the “story”?

Why can’t European Australians speak another language other than English but the Asian and Aboriginal Australians can?

My experience to Duke Skibbington’s is so utterly different, I’m all… “are you sure you’re Greek?” But of course, he’s 3rd generation, and I’m 1.5th generation. (2nd generation, but spent childhood in Greece.)

It is of course to do with assimilation, which is to do with the timespan your family has been in Australia, and with intermarriage out of the ethnic group.

  • Aboriginal Australians who were part of the Stolen Generations underwent forced assimilation; they don’t know any of their indigenous language, to their distress. Aboriginal Australians still living a traditional lifestyle in the country’s north are likelier to have held on to their language.
  • There have been Asians in Australia since the Gold Rush; those Asian Australians are unlikely to have retained their language across 6 generations. The Asian Australians I went to high school with and am still in contact with are 2nd generation; they don’t look like passing their language on.
  • Second generation Greeks were known in the 90s to be outliers in how much stronger their retention of Greek was than for other ethnic groups (even though their Greek, as I experienced, was not so much conversational as a secrecy language). But now that we’re in the 3rd generation, their Greek is gone, as Duke reports (and I know other such Greek-Australians).

To the extent that the major wave of Asian migration into Australia was in the 70s–90s, and the major wave of (non-British) European migration into Australia was in the 50s–70s, European–Australians are on aggregate one generation ahead in assimilation. That’s the most one can say.

What is your personal comment policy on Quora that coincides with Quora’s own policies?

I’m still extremely liberal about comments. If you engage at all, I’ll upvote. If you’re not adding value (and I have a low threshold for that), I’ll ignore you. If you attack me, I’ll still ignore you. If you’re being abusive or stupid, I’ll downvote you. I think the times I’ve reported or deleted comments on my answers in the 1.5 years I’ve been here, can be counted on a hand or two.

But I do avoid controversies (that don’t involve Quora itself). I’ve gotten away with liberality in comments, because I’ve been avoiding conflict in general; I’ve gotten just two BNBR warnings in my time here.

I will cc comments a lot to people who should know of them, through @-mention. Unfortunately, @-mention has been only sporadically functional for months. (The lightbox ads aren’t though!)

Is the BNBR policy the only thing standing between Quora and nerd rage?

I loathe BNBR for its vagueness and subjectivity. I appreciate BNBR for its encouraging a culture of civility.

BNBR can be used to prosecute nerd rage (as OP explains it: aggressive snarkiness), since such snark is Not Nice. After all, BNBR is used to prosecute banter, which is meta-Nice, because moderators think it will discourage civility.

OTOH, there are plenty of snarksters here, particularly high-profile users castigating vices; and I don’t see snark being systematically nipped in the bud here before it escalates into outright BNBR violations. (I’m not sure I would either.)

You pose an interesting question: is BNBR the only thing that averts feral snark? No. The culture of the site ultimately is what averts misbehaviour. And since OP was curious about practice in other fora: if the fora are small enough to have an organic culture, that culture can self-moderate pretty well. In bigger fora like Quora, you need to build the culture by policing it. BNBR has done that here, but BNBR would be nowhere unless a critical mass of users bought into it, and policed it themselves, through reporting and downvoting.

That’s misbehaviour in general; trolling, for example, is here but is much less prominent than elsewhere. But feral snark? Much more borderline, much harder to extirpate, and much harder to get community buy-in that it must be stamped out than for trolling. And I just don’t see it is being prosecuted as aggressively. (And I’d rather it not be, precisely because it’s much harder to.)

In England, we have a curious habit of cheering when someone (especially staff) drops a load of glasses or plates. Is this the norm in other countries?

In Australia, in pubs, we yell “Taxi!”

The premise is that the glass or plate was dropped by someone drunk, who therefore will be needing a taxi, as they are in no state to drive themselves home.

Does our alphabet encompass almost all possible sounds?

The question details ask for a meticulous and specific answer (though the question itself is neither).

The original 24 letter alphabet used for Latin did not even encompass the sounds of its daughter languages, let alone the sounds of other languages. Centuries of often messy digraph and diacritic solutions ensued.

But any language using a Latin alphabet as its script or as a scholarly transliteration of its script has, by definition, come up with a workable means of representing its phonemic inventory using Latin letters and diacritics.

And any phonemic alphabet or Abjad or syllabary that has needed to represent new sounds has found ways of doing so. That includes extensions of Cyrillic, Arabic, Greek, and Hebrew script.

A key restriction for those script is that they are normally only called on to represent the phonemic inventory of a language, and not the more detailed distinctions of its phonetic inventory.

If the IPA counts as an extension of the Latin alphabet, then most phonetic variation is provided for as well, and the remainder can be stabbed at with diacritics. This does not deal with the gradiation of all possible sounds that can come out of a mouth, because the IPA is not a spectrogram. But it does deal with the variation in sound that can be usefully perceived by a linguist.

The IPA in turn is only concerned with sounds that can occur in non-pathological speech. But if the IPA counts as an extension to the Latin alphabet, so do the Extensions to the International Phonetic Alphabet for disordered speech.

Updated 2017-04-17 · Upvoted by

Logan R. Kearsley, MA in Linguistics from BYU, 8 years working in research for language pedagogy. and

Steve Rapaport, Linguistics PhD candidate at Edinburgh. Has lived in USA, Sweden, Italy, UK.