Nick Nicholas: Can you write an English sentence in another script without changing the language?

Erica Friedman: What was the 2017 New York Top Writer’s meetup like?

Erica Friedman’s answer to What was the 2017 New York Top Writer’s meetup like?

I was able to get there a little early and meet some of the Quora Staff and speak with them. It’s very easy when one is removed from the gears of a community to imagine that nothing is being done when, in fact, a great deal is being done, just not all of it working the way we want. I came away from those talks excited and energized about the direction Quora is taking.

Why didn’t the Byzantine Empire have ethnic conflicts like the Ottoman Empire did?

Do read this in conjunction with:

Stefan Hill’s answer to Why didn’t the Byzantine Empire have ethnic conflicts like the Ottoman Empire did?

Ethnicity was not important in the Medieval world. Common people did not have to communicate with the state. They were supposted to work and pay taxes. The best they could hope for was to be left alone.

In the 19th century that changed.

The flashpoints in the Early Byzantine Empire were religious and doctrinal, but those often ended up being closely correlated with ethnicity—particularly with dyophysitism vs monophysitism (to use each side’s pejoratives). The bulk of the peoples lost by the Empire to the Caliphate were not native speakers of Greek, after all.

After Chalcedonian Christianity, “heresies” remained a flashpoint, but you do also start seeing more clearly ethnic-based conflict. I don’t know what else to call the Uprising of Asen and Peter, for instance:

The Uprising of Asen and Peter (Bulgarian: Въстание на Асен и Петър) was a revolt of Bulgarians and Vlachs living in the theme of Paristrion of the Byzantine Empire, caused by a tax increase. It began on 26 October 1185, the feast day of St. Demetrius of Thessaloniki, and ended with the creation of the Second Bulgarian Empire, ruled by the Asen dynasty.

In fact, the victorious brothers raised a church to the same St Demetrius whose cult site was in Salonica; in other words, they asserted religious continuity with the Empire, but not political allegiance:

After their return, many of the protesters were unwilling to join the rebellion. The brothers Peter and Asen built the Church of St Demetrius of Thessaloniki in Tarnovo, dedicated to Saint Demetrius, who was traditionally considered a patron of the Byzantine city of Thessaloniki, and claimed that the Saint had ceased to favour the Byzantines: “God had decided to free the Bulgarians and the Vlach people and to lift the yoke that they had borne for so long”.

Why are unicode characters outside the BMP called astral?

Thank you for the A2A, Jelle Zijlstra, and why do I suspect that you’ve read my page Astral Planes?

There’s 17 * 65536 characters in Unicode. Each 65536 characters is called a Plane. The first plane, the BMP, is the plane that most characters you will ever encounter are in. Only two other planes are used (or indeed likely to be used), and they contain obsolete, archaic scripts or characters in scripts that won’t get used much at all, and that most people will rarely encounter.

Or, per Plane (Unicode) – Wikipedia

In the Unicode standard, a plane is a continuous group of 65,536 (= [math]2^{16}[/math]) code points. There are 17 planes, identified by the numbers 0 to 16 decimal, which corresponds with the possible values 00–10 hexadecimal of the first two positions in six position format (hhhhhh). Plane 0 is the Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP), which contains most commonly-used characters. The higher planes 1 through 16 are called “supplementary planes”, or humorously “astral planes“.

Thank you Wikipedia.

[citation needed]

Actually, you know what? I’ll cite me. Astral Planes

So as of Unicode 3.0.1 (August 2000), Unicode is organised into 16 planes, each of 64K; this gives over a million codepoints, which should be enough for all needs, past present and future. The Basic Multilingual Plane (BMP), or Plane 0, is the first 64K, which is what was in use until 2000, and where just about everything useful will still reside. The other planes are termed Supplementary.

The supplementary planes are an innovation in how characters are internally represented—programmers have to assume a character can have a million possible values, not just 64K, which means they often have to change their existing code. Furthermore, they are not drastically common in use: most ‘real’ scripts (though not all) are ensconced in the BMP. […]

The informal name for the supplementary planes of Unicode is “astral planes”, since (especially in the late ’90s) their use seemed to be as remote as the theosophical “great beyond”. There has been objection to this jocular usage (see “string vs. char” and subsequent discussion on Unicode list); and as Planes 1 and 2 spread in use there will be less occasion to feel that the planes really are ‘astral’. But the jocular reference is harmless, and it serves as a reminder that we’re not quite there yet.

Astral plane is a joke on Astral plane: they’re “planes” of characters, but they were inaccessible and immaterial, you’d never get to them, your software would never get to them, and you’d never need to get to them: they were abstruse and obscure. The joke was coined on the Unicode mailing list.

The term is still in use; e.g.… . And the term still means something: legacy products still fail to support them (such as… oh, the Quora text editor).

There’s a simple reason why those planes aren’t particularly astral any more. In amongst the Deseret and Nabataean and Egyptian hieroglyphs, there is one set of characters in the supplementary planes that sees a *lot* of usage now, and that users have come to expect all their platforms to support. Those characters weren’t in Unicode when I wrote my page in 2003, but they’re there in the Astral Planes now.

Those characters are, of course, Emoji.

What is the word on Wonder woman’s shield?

Wonder Woman’s Shield says that the quote OP gives is on the shield. However, The Badass Quote That’s Engraved On Wonder Woman’s Sword says that it is on her sword:

In the “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Tech Manual” (via Digital Spy), it’s revealed that director Zack Snyder wanted inscriptions on the sword and shield. After coming up with a “hybrid extinct language,” the team inscribed the sword with a quote from Joseph Campbell’s collection “Goddess: Mystery of the Feminine Divine.” Here’s the quote translated into English:

“Life is killing all the time and so the goddess kills herself in the sacrifice of her own animal.”

What is Written on Wonder Woman’s Shield in BATMAN V SUPERMAN? | Nerdist links to a transliteration of the inscription on the sword (it says shield, but the closeup of the sword has the same text), done by Vince Tomasso: The “Greek” on Wonder Woman’s Equipment in ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’

The Greek makes no sense, and it has random digammas and a letter that Tomasso did not recognise, and that I’m proud that I did: Sampi (in its arrow variant). It looks like they made up the language for the quote, and I would not be surprised if they just made up a bunch of random letters, rather than a fully-fledged language. But Greek it isn’t. The archaic letters do indicate this is supposed to be some sort of fictional pre-Greek…

What is Quora doing to stop people from posting offers on Fiverr to write Quora answers for $5?

About as little as it is doing to stop it on Upwork, of which Quora is an enterprise client (they’re still recruiting question writers there):

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Is Quora just a site where shills ask questions anonymously so they can answer them and promote themselves and/or their companies?

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Has Quora ever hired people to ask questions on a particular topic?

And it looks like 50c an answer is the rate there too:

I’m looking for someone to search for questions about how to play/train on Baseball/Basketball/Golf/Swimming on Quora and to post answers related to the questions by referring to what a company’s online solutions can offer. A Quora account and sample of answers shall be provided. Pay Rate: 20 answers for $10. NOTE: You should be familiar with the sports as in how to play/train or coach a sport, not the spectator part of it (news, teams, views, etc). We’re looking for those that know the following sports.

50c?! Cf. John L. Miller’s answer to Will (and should) Quora ever pay its content creators?

If I give you a computer because I like giving people computers, that makes me happy. If I give you a computer because you’re paying me $50, I no longer have the joy of giving AND it is worth more to me than $50 (even if no one else will pay anything for it), so I’m losing money and unhappy.

50c… is not going to motivate me to do the kind of answer I do for free. FFS.

I read with some… puzzlement the following answer:

It’s a win win (x2) for all the parties involved.

A freelance writer gets money.

A company gets exposure.

Quora establishes itself as the go-to place for quality content.

Users get their answers from a professional and get to discover companies related to their interests. Maybe they can even get their problems solved.

Does that 50c an answer question sound like it’ll be quality content? Does it sound like anything but spam?

One would think, at any rate, that spam prevention would be better than spam cure. Then again, one would think that Quora would take a dimmer perspective on Do My Homework questions too.

Upwork is awash with people paying freelancers to do their homework, btw. Behold: the programmers of the future. And weep for the species…

What does Archaiomelesidonophrunicherata mean?

My thanks to Konstantinos Konstantinides for doing the back research.

The word is real, and it’s not mangled much: it should be –melisi– It’s another coinage by Aristophanes, from Wasps 220: ἀρχαιομελισιδωνοφρυνιχήρατα. Aristophanes, Wasps, line 183

ὡς ἀπὸ μέσων νυκτῶν γε παρακαλοῦσ’ ἀεί,
λύχνους ἔχοντες καὶ μινυρίζοντες μέλη
οἷς ἐκκαλοῦνται τοῦτον.

They arrive here, carrying lanterns in their hands and singing the charming old verses of Phrynichus’ Sidonian Women; it’s their way of calling him.

The breakdown is:

  • archaio– ‘old’
  • meli– ‘honey’
  • Sidōno– ‘Sidonian’
  • Phrynicho– ‘Phrynichus’
  • eratos ‘lovely’

What do I need to know before I move to Bendigo, Australia?

Well, you need to know What’s Bendigo, Australia like to live in?

You need to know that Bendigo is a two hour train ride from Melbourne, and a smidgeon longer as a car ride.

You need to know that there are good foodie options to be had in Bendigo, that real estate is affordable, that the town has a visible history (it was its Victorian architecture that made me fall in love with it), and that it is large enough for life to be pleasant with all the expected modcons.

You need to also know that it is still a country town (population 100k), and that there are things you can get or experience in Melbourne that you can’t in Bendigo. But again, Melbourne is two hours away. Not six, like Mildura is.

You probably need to know that Bendigo was a flashpoint recently of conflict about whether a mosque should be built there. There were Bendigonians who were passionately against; there were also Bendigonians who were passionately for. Country Australia is relatively whitebread compared to the cities; but Bendigo does have a significant presence of overseas born residents, including refugees: a large number of Karen refugees, for example.

In Ancient Greek, does the middle voice of φιλέω (φιλέομαι) mean “I love in my own interest,” “I love myself,” (reflexive) or “I am loved” (passive)?

I’m going to do some backgrounding on this for people not blessed enough to have delved in the waters of Greek.

English makes a distinction between active and passive voices of a verb.

Homeric Greek made a distinction between active and middle voices of a verb. It distinguished between you actively doing something to the world, and you just sitting there. If you were having things done to you (passive), you’re just sitting there. If you are doing things to yourself (reflexive), you’re just sitting there. If you two are doing things to each other (reciprocal), you’re just sitting there. And if you are doing things for yourself, you are still just sitting there: in all these instances, you are not actively doing something to the world, outside of yourself.

The distinction puts some instances that in English would be active into the middle voice. The verb for sleep is in the middle voice. So is the verb for work.

So, in that division of the world, the middle voice of ‘love’ can mean all of the above: “I love for myself”, “I love myself”, and “I am loved”.

In Homeric Greek, you occasionally have a verb form in the aorist that looks somewhat different from the middle. This ended up extended to the future tense in Attic (in a very morphologically awkward way), and it was supposed to be the emergence of a distinct passive voice in those tenses, whereas the future and aorist middles kept their middle meaning (“just sitting there”, including reflexives, reciprocals, and self-benefit).

That’s the theory. In practice, you will still find aorist passive forms with middle meaning, and aorist middle forms with passive meaning: they were easily confused, and Greek writers really did confuse them. The legacy is that in Modern Greek, we only have active and passive forms in the aorist…

… and the passive forms have the same range of meanings as the Homeric middle: the forms have switched, the underlying meaning hasn’t. Remember: the middle/passive distinction only ever happened in the aorist and future, and even there it was garbled. In the present, imperfect, perfect and pluperfect, Greek continued to use the one voice for both middle and passive, throughout. Greek simply got rid of the outliers in the aorist: it kept the semantics the same.

So, if I may introspect on the modern verb αγαπιέμαι: in the plural, it would be interpreted as “we love each other” (αγαπιόμαστε), and in the singular, it would be interpreted as “I am loved”. That’s not about preference of one meaning over the other, that’s about context and plausibility. Other words have different default interpretations. An inanimate subject of κλέβομαι “be stolen” is passive; a human subject will be interpreted as reciprocal (we stole each other = we eloped).

And there is the possibility of confusion between middle and passive still. I once used the middle of self-benefit with reference to shopping: I announced to my cousin that ψωνιστήκαμε “we went shopping (for things for ourselves)”. My cousin told me to shut up, because the idiomatic interpretation of the verb “to shop” in the middle/passive voice was not self-benefit, but passive: “we were shopped for, someone went shopping to buy us”. Which applies to street prostitutes.