Why are so many people today using the word “fuck,” like it’s a common everyday word, and not sparingly, like the vulgar, profane word that it is?

Quite apart from the changing nature what is considered taboo in the English-speaking world, fuck has undergone weakening though overuse, and has lost its potency. It is simply not as profane as it used to be.

This inflation of profanity is a linguistic commonplace: 150 years ago, the profanity to avoid in polite company was damned. In fact, it is a characteristic of vivid language in general; that’s why slang has such a short shelf life.

Which books on Greek and Roman mythology list the most number of mythological characters?

As I am nowadays saying openly, I worked at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae for 17 years, 13 which I spent working on word recognition. As a result, I got to know pretty well where all the obscure names were in Greek literature.

In the classical Canon, hands down, the Bibliotheca (Pseudo-Apollodorus).

Among online resources, THEOI GREEK MYTHOLOGY saved my bacon quite often.

Answered 2017-07-15 · Upvoted by

Chad Turner, Classics PhD, specializing in Greek tragedy and Greek/Roman mythology

What do sophisticated, neutral, and unsophisticated typefaces from different writing systems look like?

This is not the most sophisticated of answers; but one bugbear of all type designers outside of the Latin script (and Cyrillic, thanks to Peter the Great) is recent font kiddies slavishly copying the design of Latin fonts. Particularly serifs. Type designers in other scripts hate serifs. Serifs are a Latin thing; Peter the Great got them into Cyrillic, but they don’t belong anywhere else, and they look horrible when they do show up. As typographers often decry. Font kiddies.

I bought a coffee table book on the history of Arabic typography, and was rather puzzled to find the author thinking Arabic serifs were actually a good thing. Until I realised the author was in fact such a font kiddie.

Type designers also loathe Old English (i.e. Heavy Metal) fonts in other scripts. I’m not as sophisticated; I recently saw Chinese written in Old English style, and I rather liked it. But then, I can’t read Chinese.

But then again, it was quite elegant in its rendering of strokes. It wasn’t this version of Katakana (It’s a katakana font (named “ゴウラ”) designed to…):

… Yeah. I think the scholarly term is “font kiddies”.

Is there any linguistic reason for the words tough, though, plough, and thorough having such different endings?

The answer is not great:

Middle English phonology – Wikipedia

The phoneme /h/, when it occurred in the syllable coda, is believed to have had two allophones: the voiceless palatal fricative [ç], occurring after front vowels, and the voiceless velar fricative [x], occurring after back vowels. The usual spelling in both cases was ⟨gh⟩, which is retained today in words like night and taught.

These sounds were lost during the later Middle English and Early Modern English eras. The timing of this process was dependent on dialect; the fricatives were still pronounced in some educated speech in the 16th century, but they had disappeared by the late 17th. Loss of the fricatives was accompanied by some compensatory lengthening or diphthongization of preceding vowels. In some cases, the velar fricative [x] developed into /f/; as such the preceding vowel was shortened, and the [u] of a diphthong was absorbed. However, the palatal fricative [ç] in no instances became /f/.

Some possible developments are illustrated below:

  • OE niht (‘night’) > ME /niht/ [niçt] > /niːt/ > NE /naɪt/ (by the Great Vowel Shift)
  • OE hlæhhan (‘to laugh’) > ME [lauxə] > LLME /laf/ > ENE /laːf/ > NE /læ(ː)f, lɑːf/
  • OE tōh (‘tough’) > ME [tuːx] > LLME /tuf/ > NE /tʌf/

This variable outcome, along with other variable changes and the ambiguity of the Middle English spelling <ou> (either /ou/ or /uː/ in Early Middle English) accounts for the numerous pronunciations of Modern English words in -ough- (e.g. though, through, bough, rough, trough, thought, with -ough- pronounced /ou/, /uː/, /au/, /ʌf/, /ɒf/, /ɔː/ respectively).

Is the word “pray(er)” different between Christians and Muslims in your language(s)?

I’m guessing rather than certain here, but Muslim Greek and Jewish Greek, as spoken by longstanding religious communities, did have distinct vocabulary about religious practices, and I’d have no reason to think prayer is an exception.

The two Turkish terms given in Murat Öz’s answer are namaz and ibadet. As noted in Τι είναι το Ναμάζι;, ναμάζι is frequent in Greek literature with reference to Muslim prayer, and has been used in the Greek press.

The one instance of ibadet in Greek I find on line is in a letter from a Greek bishop in the region around Drama, written in 1911 and available at Μικρόπολη Ιστορία Οθωμανική Περίοδος και Τουρκοκρατία Μικρόπολης Καρλίκοβα Δράμα Mikropoli Mikropolis Karlikowa Καρλίκοβα Μικρόπολη Μικρόπολης. It disapprovingly cites a local Bulgarian Orthodox (“schismatic”) cleric referring to Orthodox prayer as ιμπαντέτι; the Bulgarian is cited (in vernacular Greek with Turkish codeswitching) as saying “I am liberal: I would be happy to celebrate mass with the bishop. I ask no-one for permission about ibadet, neither the Exarch [Bulgarian church leader] nor anyone else, I’ll even yaparım ibadet [do prayer] with a hoca [imam].”

The call to prayer, adham, is referred to through its Turkish form ezam > εζάμι in the Greek press still, with reference to calls to prayer not only in Turkey, but also in Jerusalem.

How is Welchite defined? What are the typical characteristics?

As Zeibura S. Kathau notes, I did coin the term. I coined the term after my shock at the banning of Jimmy Liu, the first popular Quoran I saw banned, which sent me researching into how moderation on Quora worked. I found Scott Welch‘s articulation of the problems with moderation the most compelling, particularly I’m taking a voluntary break from Quora while I reassess my future here by Scott Welch on Scott’s House O’ All-Purpose Answers, written in the wake of RunOverChinesePedestrianGate.

What is most characteristic of use of dissatisfaction with Quora is that it is not a unified movement. In fact, I deliberately used the suffix –ite, used to describe factions (Jacobite, Blairite), as a joke, to highlight that there is no unified movement. (Even if Tatiana accused posters of forming one, just before she shut down Rage Against Quora.)

Inasmuch as there are any common threads, I would suggest they are the following:

  • Belief in at least some of the stated aims and principles of Quora. Welchites, I believe, are disillusioned idealists rather than nihilists.
  • Knowledge of the ins and outs of Quora, its community history, and its corporate history. Welchites seek to be informed critics. They are not “oh my god how could they ban X” or “if they keep this up, they will run out of writers”.
  • Sarcasm against Quora, particularily its design and moderation arms. Scott used the expression The Mensa of Mountain View often.
  • Mistrust. Welchites have been disinclined to give Quora the benefit of the doubt.

I don’t know that I can say much more than that, given that only 4 or 5 people have ever adopted the label.

How could Byzantine writers re-introduce the subscript iota and the breathings, which were long gone at the time?

From An introduction to Greek and Latin palaeography : Thompson, Edward Maunde, Sir, (1912), pp. 61–62, My summary:

The breathings and accents were invented by Aristophanes of Byzantium, ca 200 BC—when the breathings and accents were still being pronounced. It is believed that they were promoted for the teaching of literary Greek, precisely because they were starting not to be pronounced.

Accentuation is not used at all in non-literary papyri, and only occasionally in literary papyri. By the 3rd century AD, their use had become systematic in literary papyri. When the transition was made to codices, they were dropped again (although they are added in to the early codices of the Bible); and they were not systematically resumed before the 7th century AD.

So, if the question is about why they were dropped in the 3rd century and resumed in the 7th century, well, not sure. The how though is not difficult: manuals of accentuation were written in Roman times, by grammarians such as Aelius Herodian, and had been preserved. Scribes just started paying attention to them again.

Iota subscript – Wikipedia, as Joe Venetos indicates, gives an account of its history. The iota subscript was invented in the 12th century AD; it had not been pronounced for the previous 12 centuries, and was only intermittently written as a silent letter. Again, the grammars and dictionaries had recorded where the silent iotas were supposed to be, and the scribes then decided to write it down as a diacritic instead.