Why use the term straight instead of heterosexual?

Let me answer a different question.

As I wrote on A cis lament for the Greek language and How to say transgender in Greek, the Greek language has a Greek term for transgender, diemphylikos. Trans Greeks were involved in coining it.

The Greek peak body of LGB (with only token T) uses diemphylikos.

Greek trans groups, including the very people who came up with diemphylikos, refuse to use it, and use transdzender and trans instead.

Why? Because they did not want a self-designation that sounded like a medical diagnosis.

And while my cis Greek linguistician heart bleeds to hear it, I understand that.

That’s also why gays don’t call themselves homosexuals.

And as frustrated as they have had reason to be with heterosexuals, that’s also why they don’t call heterosexuals heterosexuals, or for that matter why heterosexuals don’t call themselves heterosexuals. It’s not a colloquial term. It is a scholarly term.

Oh, and as enough answers have already said: words change meaning, and more importantly, words change connotations. People really don’t think of straight as either defensively positive, or derogatorily negative. It’s just the colloquial term for heterosexual now; the social circumstances around it have changed, and so has the understanding of it. If the connotations of conventionality and rectitude were paramount, the expression straight but not narrow would be unintelligible.

Brag about yourself. What are you really good at doing?

“Let us now praise famous Nicks.”

I hope I’m good at popularising obscure topics in the set union of Greek and linguistics. It’s what I’m ostensibly supposed to be doing here, instead of complaining about the site’s misdeeds.

When I’m firing on all cylinders, my intellectual labour is quick. Fearsomely quick. I’m quick to pick up knowledge about a new domain, quick to do wide-ranging discovery, quick to synthesise it, and quick to formulate an informed opinion about it. Quick sometimes means Hasty; Quick almost always means Impatient. But if I have missed something in my final product, it certainly won’t be staring you in the face.

How do you say ‘the thing about the eagle’ in ancient Greek?

I have been edified by the margent:

I have found out that the Iliad means ‘The thing about the lion’ and I was just wondering how one would say, ‘The thing about the eagle’.

No. No it doesn’t, and you need to slap whoever told you that in the face. Iliad means ‘The thing about Ilium’, where Ilium was an alternate name of Troy. ‘The thing about the lion’ would be Leontiad, Λεοντιάς, -άδος, ἡ.

And ‘the thing about the eagle’ would accordingly be Aeëtiad or Aëtiad, Αἰετιάς/ Ἀετιάς, -άδος, ἡ.

Yes, I use Latinate transliterations. Deal. 🙂

How important are gender presentation and gender pronouns to you as a cis person?

I gather the question is about how I receive them rather than how I give them, given that this question is related to How important are gender presentation and different pronouns to you as a transgender person?

I’m a bloke. I don’t want to be told I’m not a bloke, and I’ll be rather surprised if someone thinks I’m not a bloke.

I present as a bloke. I’m quite happy to present as a bloke, and despite the occasional “no, I’m secure in my sexuality” joke, I haven’t particularly delved into gender ambiguity.

I have identities that are more pressing and conscious to me than masculinity; then again, masculinity is the kind of identity that fades into the all-encompassing background readily.

Like Kimberly Alexander’s answer says, cis people don’t particularly reflect on gender the way trans people are forced to. Ditto any privileged identity group: the privilege is in not being Othered.

(That’s why I call you Westerners beef-eaters on Quora all the time.)

How many popular (1K+ followers) Quorans are you blocked by?

I think half a dozen, and one of them on this thread.


It hasn’t been a mystery for any of them, though in one case the blocking seemed to me a massively disproportionate reaction to the offence. But that gets to be their call to make, not mine.

I’ve been blocked and unblocked once on the matters *I* regard as my core domain, the union of Greek and Language. Most of the blocks relate to the matters everyone else likely assumes are my core domain: assuming the mantle of being a Quora critic.

In my estimation, I’ve gained more from those I’ve come to associate through assuming that mantle than I’ve lost.

And that gets to be my call to make.

If Quora were a human being, how healthy do you think it would be?

Oh, of course I’m going to give you an Insurgency-tinged answer, Martin!

If Quora Inc were a human, they’d be one of those infuriating people who eat seven meals a day and are still stick-thin, and that chain smoke but will still live to be a hundred. It keeps doing things that the normal laws of nature would have you predict would lead to them being quite sick, but they keep getting away with murder. (Where, for murder, read VC capital.)

Is it mathematically possible to create a language where terms describing complex ideas can be made up starting from simpler ideas, with simple logical reasoning in real time, so that knowing vocabulary is not necessary?

I’m sceptical to what extent mathematics enters into any reasoning about human language (and Lojbanists actually highlight that language is not reducible to truth-conditional logic). But much of what you’re saying is the bet behind Natural semantic metalanguage, which tries to define every concept ever in a language that looks like English, but that has only an extremely small number of primitive words.

NSM was a thing of cruel, adamantine beauty back in the 70s and 80s, when it had just 14 primitives. It was also of course utterly unusable as a practical tool for eliciting meaning. It’s now up to 63.

A favourite party trick of Anna Wierzbicka’s undergrads, at least in my day, was to try to hold conversations in NSM. It can be done. It can’t be done efficiently enough to count as a real conversation; but it does meet a generous definition of “in real time”.

Is it possible to go to the Top Writer meetup (2017) without being invited?

Clearly from other answers, Quora polices its Top Writer meetup at or near Quora Inc HQ zealously from non-invitees such as spouses or the unquilled.

But the question did not say Top Writer Meetup At Mountain View (2017). It just said Top Writer Meetup (2017).

Whereby I submit to you:

Tom Robinson’s answer to What was the 2017 New York Top Writer’s meetup like?

Tom Robinson, you are a mensch, but you already knew that.

You may provide an optional explanation; but we won’t let you

This is something that used to work.

It now does not work, although the prompts are pretending that it does work.

Somehow, I think this reflects the inner workings of Quora UX’s Story Thought. Or whatever else the Quora Design team write on Quora, when they’re not introducing new and bold functionality into their product.

When someone submits a post to your blog, and they’re not an Author, you’re allowed to reject it.

Courtesy dictates that, if you do, you say why.

And the UI indicates so, too:

I’ve done so before.

This past few weeks, I’ve clicked “optional explanation”. Nothing happens; the hyperlink is to the page you’re already on. I’ve clicked Ignore Submission: no popup to say why, like there used to be, and certainly no notification to the author that you’ve rejected their submission.

Yes, I have reported this as a bug, two weeks ago. For all the good that seems to do.

No, I can’t show you a ticket number to confirm that. Because Quora.

But maybe I’m just not imaginative enough. Maybe this is actually a Feature.

A feature to illustrate the futility of all things in this Vale of Tears, perhaps, including blog submissions.

Or, maybe, I’m being trapped in Story Thinking, of how I just want to reject a blog submission politely, and Quora Design is trying to nudge me into System Thinking (i.e. seeing the big picture), that blogs are a deprecated part of the Quora Experience, and everyone should just stick to Q&A.

And then again, maybe regression testing is just another thing that gets in the way of Quora Design DEPLOYING EVERYTHING ON THEIR DRIVE TO PRODUCTION IN 8 MINUTES!!!!!111!!11!!!!!eleven!!!

But remember, boys and girls:

Marc Bodnick’s answer to Do you think Quora removing the question details feature was a good idea?

You want your favorite consumer technology companies taking risks and making big changes! This is how things get better.


That kind of snide remark is also how Scott Welch gets blocked by everyone at Quora, for that matter. (I’ve already been blocked by one staff member, yay me.) But, as the Greek proverb goes—

—all together now, you’ve heard me say it often enough:

Θέλω ν’ αγιάσω μα δε μ’ αφήνουν. I’m trying to be a saint, but they won’t let me!

On Quora, many people know many languages, so why can’t we ask questions in languages other than English?

(A) Because Quora in Spanish, French, German, and Italian already exist by now. There may even be more in the future. Maybe.

(B) Because Chris Tou’s answer to Does content on Quora need to be written in English?, from 2011, still holds:

However, there are probably still several good reasons to promote the use of one standardized on a site such as this. For example, using only one language allows everyone to be able to communicate and share. You won’t have someone giving an answer in, say, Chinese, and then have worry about translating it to another language for others to understand.

Another possible reason is that it’s hard to moderate posts in languages you do not understand. Quora relies on a form self-regulated community. Having separate languages promotes segregation and becomes hard for the community to self-regulate unless they spoke that specific language. On a forum where there are more members, that could work, as each specific language community would monitor itself, but Quora is not yet there, I think.

Not using English on Quora does exclude people that don’t speak that language; speaking English is one of the few prereqs to joining here.

So Questions and Answers not in English are verboten on Quora in English. It’s not as clear whether blogs can be not in English (Can I write a Quora blog in a language other than English?); reportedly they used to be explicitly allowed, with provisos of English topics and titles, and the blog जय महाराष्ट्र | Jay Maharashtra is still going strong. See discussion at https://www.quora.com/Can-I-writ…

I have seen comment chat between people in languages other than English, but very infrequently. I have occasionally tried to initiate that, in German and Greek; sometimes, it’s worked.