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List of languages by total number of speakers - Wikipedia
- has both L1 (native speakers) and L2 (second-language speakers)
- I'm guessing most of Mandarin's L2 speakers are Chinese natives. Lots of dialects and such (Cantonese) within the country.
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5 weeks ago by nhaliday
Verbal Edge: Borges & Buckley | Eamonn Fitzgerald: Rainy Day
At one point, Borges said that he found English “a far finer language” than Spanish and Buckley asked “Why?”

Borges: There are many reasons. Firstly, English is both a Germanic and a Latin language, those two registers.

...

And then there is another reason. And the reason is that I think that of all languages, English is the most physical. You can, for example, say “He loomed over.” You can’t very well say that in Spanish.

Buckley: Asomo?
Borges: No; they’re not exactly the same. And then, in English, you can do almost anything with verbs and prepositions. For example, to “laugh off,” to “dream away.” Those things can’t be said in Spanish.

http://www.oenewsletter.org/OEN/print.php/essays/toswell43_1/Array
J.L.B.: "You will say that it's easier for a Dane to study English than for a Spanish-speaking person to learn English or an Englishman Spanish; but I don't think this is true, because English is a Latin language as well as a Germanic one. At least half the English vocabulary is Latin. Remember that in English there are two words for every idea: one Saxon and one Latin. You can say 'Holy Ghost' or 'Holy Spirit,' 'sacred' or 'holy.' There's always a slight difference, but one that's very important for poetry, the difference between 'dark' and 'obscure' for instance, or 'regal' and 'kingly,' or 'fraternal' and 'brotherly.' In the English language almost al words representing abstract ideas come from Latin, and those for concrete ideas from Saxon, but there aren't so many concrete ideas." (P. 71) [2]

In his own words, then, Borges was fascinated by Old English and Old Norse.
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8 weeks ago by nhaliday
Language Log » English or Mandarin as the World Language?
- writing system frequently mentioned as barrier
- also imprecision of Chinese might hurt its use for technical writing
- most predicting it won't (but English might be replaced by absence of lingua franca per Nicholas Ostler)
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8 weeks ago by nhaliday
soft question - What are good non-English languages for mathematicians to know? - MathOverflow
I'm with Deane here: I think learning foreign languages is not a very mathematically productive thing to do; of course, there are lots of good reasons to learn foreign languages, but doing mathematics is not one of them. Not only are there few modern mathematics papers written in languages other than English, but the primary other language they are written (French) in is pretty easy to read without actually knowing it.

Even though I've been to France several times, my spoken French mostly consists of "merci," "si vous plait," "d'accord" and some food words; I've still skimmed 100 page long papers in French without a lot of trouble.

If nothing else, think of reading a paper in French as a good opportunity to teach Google Translate some mathematical French.
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10 weeks ago by nhaliday
A cross-language perspective on speech information rate
Figure 2.

English (IREN = 1.08) shows a higher Information Rate than Vietnamese (IRVI = 1). On the contrary, Japanese exhibits the lowest IRL value of the sample. Moreover, one can observe that several languages may reach very close IRL with different encoding strategies: Spanish is characterized by a fast rate of low-density syllables while Mandarin exhibits a 34% slower syllabic rate with syllables ‘denser’ by a factor of 49%. Finally, their Information Rates differ only by 4%.
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11 weeks ago by nhaliday
Perseus Digital Library
This is actually really useful.

Features:
- Load English translation side-by-side if available.
- Click on any word and see the best guess for definition+inflection given context.
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11 weeks ago by nhaliday
Roman naming conventions - Wikipedia
The distinguishing feature of Roman nomenclature was the use of both personal names and regular surnames. Throughout Europe and the Mediterranean, other ancient civilizations distinguished individuals through the use of single personal names, usually dithematic in nature. Consisting of two distinct elements, or "themes", these names allowed for hundreds or even thousands of possible combinations. But a markedly different system of nomenclature arose in Italy, where the personal name was joined by a hereditary surname. Over time, this binomial system expanded to include additional names and designations.[1][2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gens
In ancient Rome, a gens (/ˈɡɛns/ or /ˈdʒɛnz/), plural gentes, was a family consisting of all those individuals who shared the same nomen and claimed descent from a common ancestor. A branch of a gens was called a stirps (plural stirpes). The gens was an important social structure at Rome and throughout Italy during the period of the Roman Republic. Much of an individual's social standing depended on the gens to which he belonged. Certain gentes were considered patrician, others plebeian, while some had both patrician and plebeian branches. The importance of membership in a gens declined considerably in imperial times.[1][2]

...

The word gens is sometimes translated as "race" or "nation", meaning a people descended from a common ancestor (rather than sharing a common physical trait). It can also be translated as "clan" or "tribe", although the word tribus has a separate and distinct meaning in Roman culture. A gens could be as small as a single family, or could include hundreds of individuals. According to tradition, in 479 BC the gens Fabia alone were able to field a militia consisting of three hundred and six men of fighting age. The concept of the gens was not uniquely Roman, but was shared with communities throughout Italy, including those who spoke Italic languages such as Latin, Oscan, and Umbrian as well as the Etruscans. All of these peoples were eventually absorbed into the sphere of Roman culture.[1][2][3][4]

...

Persons could be adopted into a gens and acquire its nomen. A libertus, or "freedman", usually assumed the nomen (and sometimes also the praenomen) of the person who had manumitted him, and a naturalized citizen usually took the name of the patron who granted his citizenship. Freedmen and newly enfranchised citizens were not technically part of the gentes whose names they shared, but within a few generations it often became impossible to distinguish their descendants from the original members. In practice this meant that a gens could acquire new members and even new branches, either by design or by accident.[1][2][7]

Ancient Greek personal names: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_Greek_personal_names
Ancient Greeks usually had one name, but another element was often added in semi-official contexts or to aid identification: a father’s name (patronym) in the genitive case, or in some regions as an adjectival formulation. A third element might be added, indicating the individual’s membership in a particular kinship or other grouping, or city of origin (when the person in question was away from that city). Thus the orator Demosthenes, while proposing decrees in the Athenian assembly, was known as "Demosthenes, son of Demosthenes of Paiania"; Paiania was the deme or regional sub-unit of Attica to which he belonged by birth. If Americans used that system, Abraham Lincoln would have been called "Abraham, son of Thomas of Kentucky" (where he was born). In some rare occasions, if a person was illegitimate or fathered by a non-citizen, they might use their mother's name (metronym) instead of their father's. Ten days after a birth, relatives on both sides were invited to a sacrifice and feast called dekátē (δεκάτη), 'tenth day'; on this occasion the father formally named the child.[3]

...

In many contexts, etiquette required that respectable women be spoken of as the wife or daughter of X rather than by their own names.[6] On gravestones or dedications, however, they had to be identified by name. Here, the patronymic formula "son of X" used for men might be replaced by "wife of X", or supplemented as "daughter of X, wife of Y".

Many women bore forms of standard masculine names, with a feminine ending substituted for the masculine. Many standard names related to specific masculine achievements had a common feminine equivalent; the counterpart of Nikomachos, "victorious in battle", would be Nikomachē. The taste mentioned above for giving family members related names was one motive for the creation of such feminine forms. There were also feminine names with no masculine equivalent, such as Glykera "sweet one"; Hedistē "most delightful".
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august 2018 by nhaliday
Chengyu - Wikipedia
Chengyu (simplified Chinese: 成语; traditional Chinese: 成語, pinyin: chéngyǔ, lit. "set phrases") are a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expression, most of which consist of four characters. Chengyu were widely used in Classical Chinese and are still common in vernacular Chinese writing and in the spoken language today. According to the most stringent definition, there are about 5,000 chengyu in the Chinese language, though some dictionaries list over 20,000.

They are often referred to as Chinese idioms or four-character idioms; however, they are not the only idioms in Chinese.

one example is 指鹿為馬 zhi lu wei ma "point deer, make horse"
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february 2018 by nhaliday
Scientia potentia est - Wikipedia
The phrase "scientia potentia est" (or "scientia est potentia" or also "scientia potestas est") is a Latin aphorism meaning "knowledge is power". It is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, although there is no known occurrence of this precise phrase in Bacon's English or Latin writings. However, the expression "ipsa scientia potestas est" ('knowledge itself is power') occurs in Bacon's Meditationes Sacrae (1597). The exact phrase "scientia potentia est" was written for the first time in the 1668 version of the work Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, who was secretary to Bacon as a young man.

The related phrase "sapientia est potentia" is often translated as "wisdom is power".[1]
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february 2018 by nhaliday

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