What is the origin of the Jewish surname ‘Pizer’?

Pizer is listed in Patrick Hanks’ American Dictionary of Family Names, with two provenances. As an English surname, it is a variant of Peyser, and and its etymology is available online. As a Jewish surname, its etymology is given as unknown. From online searches, I couldn’t even tell whether it was Ashkenazi or Sephardi.

So, I don’t know, and it looks like a lot of people don’t know either.

What’s the verb for “running away to marry” in your language? Is it “to elope” in English and “klevomai” in Greek?

The Greek word for ‘elope’ is indeed klevome: ‘to steal each other’. In my mother’s village, my impression is there were more elopements than weddings with parents’ full-throated approval.

Elope. Another word rendered obsolete by societal change. I’m sure it sounds as quaint to most Westerners now as betrothal and godsiblings…

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.

Indeed.

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.

Poe once wrote: “Oh! That my young life were a lasting dream! /My spirit not awakening, till the beam/Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.” What do you make of that sentiment, as someone who writes so poignantly of illness?

Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
’Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.

I make of it something different than you make of it, Magister. I make of it the bitter refrain of the middle-aged, in song and in lyric: that the vigour and felicity of youth are not cherished when we’re in the midst of them, and are lamented by us when they’re gone. The wish that the grudging disappointments of middle age, and the aches of senectitude, could be effaced; that we could transition directly from youth to the hereafter, without the gift of youth being tarnished within our very frames.

“Hope I die before I get old”—How old’s the guy who sang that now? 72?

And clicking through to the question details that the shmucks here in Quora Product Design still permit us—Dreams: yes. The imagined, the fleed-to, the dreamed, the recollection with rose-coloured glasses, is always better than what we live in cold reality. In fact—and you and I both know this, mi senex—the youth that was once cold reality was no match for the youth of middle-aged dreams. I didn’t enjoy being young. I didn’t get to have much fun, and I thought my long dream was of hopeless sorrow at the time—because I knew no true sorrow. I didn’t enjoy my vigour, because I knew no decrepitude. I didn’t think things lovely, because I knew no ugliness.

We Greeks, we have a saying for that too. Κάθε πέρσι και καλύτερα. Each “last year” is better than the next.

I recognise the sentiment, mi senex. I recognise that sentiment which colours all of what I do. My last year was better than this too, for having had your voice in it.

(And for having had question details.)

And yet, that’s easy. It’s easy to regret what’s gone; it’s hard to rejoice in what follows. It’s easy to regret vigour; it’s hard to rejoice in wisdom. It’s easy to lament in friends gone; it’s hard to rejoice in friends gained.

It’s easy to have missed your voice. It’s hard to know that mine, too, is a voice that will one day be missed.

Zhou Enlai was old too, in 1972. Alice Goodman, on the other hand, was just 29 when she put these words in his mouth. But she knew what words she did put in his mouth:

I am old and I cannot sleep
forever, like the young, nor hope
that death will be a novelty
but endless wakefulness when I
put down my work and go to bed.
How much of what we did was good?
Everything seems to move beyond
our remedy. Come, heal this wound.
At this hour nothing can be done.
Just before dawn the birds begin,
the warblers who prefer the dark,
the cage-birds answering. To work!
Outside this room the chill of grace
lies heavy on the morning grass.

What are some sentences that make perfect sense to you but sound like gibberish to most people?

Opening up my Master’s thesis randomly, this para makes all the sense in the world to me, and I’m sure it makes somewhat less sense to most.

Unlike volitionality or temporality, these principles underlying these relations cannot be captured by a referential, truth-conditional semantics. The relationships described by these relations are not real-world relations; they involve the organisation and presentation of text. In Hallidayan terms, they involve not ideational, but textual semantics. For that reason, they can only be expressed in terms of discourse analysis. This makes these relational distinctions decidedly relevant to a rhetorical theory, which purports to analyse discourse structure functionally.

Or maybe some phonetics from a recent-ish paper I coauthored?

The alternative explanation involves the impact of analogical change on verb paradigms in Italiot, but not in Cargese. As seen previously, in Cargese Greek the third person plural of a verb (ekoɣwane ‘they were cutting’ < ekovɣane) is subject to metathesis, but the third person singular, involving a front vowel after , is not (ekovʒe ‘he was cutting’ < ekovɣe). In Italiot, analogical change has taken place, shifting [j] to [ɣ] before front vowels, and thereby regularizing verb paradigms (Rohlfs 1977: 27: troɣise rather than the expected trojise ‘you eat’, modeled on troɣo ‘I eat’). It is likely then that analogical leveling in Italiot led to the replacement of palatalized [vj] with unpalatalized [vɣ] even in palatalizing contexts. Once this occurred, it fed into secondary metathesis to [ɣv] and subsequent shift in the direction of [ɡw]. If this hypothesis is correct, the main locus of analogy would also have been verb endings, given how widespread ɣ-epenthesis was in Italiot verb inflections, and how infrequent it is in stems: thus, xorevɣo, xorevji > xorevɣo, xorevɣi > xoreɡwo, xoreɡwi ‘I dance, he dances’ (Vuni Italiot, Calabria: Karanastasis 1984–92).

The scary thing is, I don’t think these are far off from how I express myself about linguistics on Quora…

What are the dark sides of using Quora?

Dark sides. Oh boy.

What influence has Bollywood had in Greek music?

Material drawn from forum thread ΙΝΔΙΚΑ ΚΑΙ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ ΤΡΑΓΟΥΔΙΑ. There is a book on the influx of Bollywood tunes into Greek music:

Ινδοπρεπών αποκάλυψη. Manuel Tasoulas & Eleni Ambatzi. 1998. Ινδοπρεπών αποκάλυψη [Revelation of the Indian-styled]. Athens; Περιβολάκι, Ατραπός.

Bollywood productions were very popular in Greece in the 1960s; my mother remembers watching them as a teenager. Greek music also has some resemblance with the kinds of music featured in Bollywood productions, via the family resemblance chain Greek–Turkish–Persian, Arabic–Indian.

As a result, the 1960s saw a substantial number of Bollywood songs repurposed as Greek hit songs. Not particularly obscure songs either: they include some of the most memorable songs of the 60s. Λίγο-λίγο θα με συνηθίσεις. Καρδιά μου καημένη. Αυτή η νύχτα μένει. Όσο αξίζεις εσύ. Είσαι η ζωή μου.

That trend appears to have dried up since the 60s. Popular Greek music does now occasionally borrow songs from the Arab world; e.g. Katy Garbi’s 1996 hit Περασμένα ξεχασμένα, which is a cover of Hisham Abbas’ Wana Wana Amil Eih.

(Ο κλέψας του κλέψαντος: Διαμάχη Ελλάδας-Αραβίας για τραγούδι της Καίτης Γαρμπή – People Greece has the producer of the song admitting that he got the song on a pirated tape in Jordan, and that he preferred to seek forgiveness rather than permission.)

But. The question is about Bollywood songs.

As one poster in the forum thread says,

Αυτό που κάνει εντύπωση είναι πόσο το ύφος άλλαξε όταν μεταφυτεύτηκαν αυτά τα ινδικά λουλούδια στο ελληνικό χώμα!

It’s impressive how much their style changed when these Indian flowers were transplanted to Greek soil.

Two CDs have circulated, Ο γυρισμός της Μαντουμπάλα “The return of Madhubala” and Το τραγούδι της Ναργκίς “The song of Nargis”, pairing 30 Indian originals and their Greek covers. Here’s the six Greek songs I recognise by title. I’m interested to read what readers make of the contrast.

DUNIA ME HAM AAYE HAIN: MOTHER INDIA, 1957. Naushad / Miina & Usha
Mangeshkar.

Καρδιά μου καημένη / Μπ. Μπακάλης, 1960 / Στρ. Διονυσίου – Γ. Κάλη

ΥΑ ALLAH, YA ALLAH DIL LE GAYA: UJAALA, 1959. Shankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar – Manna Dey

Λίγο – λίγο θα με συνηθίσεις / Απ. Καλδάρας, 1963 / Μιχ. Μενιδιάτης

ULFAT KA SAAZ: AURAT, 1953. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

https://youtube.com/watch?v=lLpC77POXi0

Αυτή η νύχτα μένει / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης

DUNIAVALON SE DUUR: UJAALA, 1959. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar – Mukesh

Όσο αξίζεις εσύ / Απ. Καλδάρας / 1963 / Μαν. Αγγελόπουλος

GHAR AAYA MERA PARDESI: AWAARA, 1951. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Είσαι η ζωή μου / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης – Μαρινέλλα

AAJAO TARAPT HAI ARMAN: AWAARA, 1951. Sankar – Jaikishan / Lata Mangeshkar

Μαντουμπάλα, 1959 / Η επιστροφή της Μαντουμπάλα, 1964 / Ήρθα πάλι κοντά σου, 1959 / Στ. Καζαντζίδης / Στ. Καζαντζίδης – Μαρινέλλα

You’ll notice that half of these were sung by Stelios Kazantzidis. I used to snob off Kazantzidis when I was a kid, and I’m sure a lot of his contemporaries snobbed him off too, for picking Indo-Gypsy songs (ινδογύφτικα, as Tsitsanis maliciously called them).* It takes time for an outsider to get what he speaks to in the Greek soul. It takes maturity to recognise that those Indo-Gypsy songs resonate deeply with the Greek soul for good reason.

It’s just the icing on the cake that the Greek songs and the Indian originals repeatedly share the Arabic word دنيا (dunya), ‘world’, and its connotations of it being in opposition to Heaven.


* All the more maliciously, because Manolis Angelopoulos, who sang #4, was Roma. And of course of the two names the Roma were traditionally given in Greek, tsinganos and ɣiftos, ɣiftos is the more negative. In fact, rendering ινδογύφτικα as “Indo-nigger songs” would not be that inaccurate.

What would it be like to have a made up language as your first language?

If you’re being brought up to speak Esperanto or Klingon or Lojban or (in the case of Itamar Ben-Avi) Revived Hebrew [yes, I’m calling Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s work a made up language], the main issue you’d run into is not having anyone but your parents, and maybe occasionally your parents’ weirdo friends, to use the language with.

That is actually a very common dealbreaker for kids with Esperanto, and the parents end up acquiescing; there may be 10k denaskaj Esperantistoj (native speakers of Esperanto) that are still engaged with the language, but there are a lot more that aren’t. This got addressed in the surveys behind Peter Forster’s book The Esperanto Movement. I haven’t asked him personally, but I think it’s a big reason why Alec Speers gave up and D’Armond Speers acquiesced, with Klingon. Itamar, unfortunately, was not given the option, which is why he could only talk to his dog as a kid.

(I know someone bringing up his kid to speak Lojban, and my Facebook feed has intermittent reports of how it’s going; but I haven’t been following it. Lojban is certainly going to be a lot more alien than Klingon.)

A second issue, which I’ve heard for Esperanto and which D’Armond certainly reported for Klingon, was the lack of vocabulary that you can use with a kid around the house. It’s not necessarily that Esperanto lacks such vocabulary, but that Esperantists usually don’t learn that vocabulary, because that’s not the context in which they use the language. Just as people who learn foreign languages formally usually don’t end up learning the word for armpit. So you may grow up with circumlocutions or ad hoc words.

Chomskyans may mutter darkly that if you are brought up to speak a made up language, that will warp your language acquisition FOREVAH, and that bringing up a kid to speak Klingon is somehow child abuse. I even heard that from non-Chomskyans.

Poppycock. Kids survived being brought up in slave plantations creolising their parents’ pidgins without sustaining brain damage; the brain is a flexible thing, far more flexible than knob-twiddling universal parameters gives it credit for; and in any case, no kid is being brought up with no exposure ever to natural languages in parallel. (Not even Itamar. Poor kid.)