The history tag features articles about the history of languages, translation and the history of words in both English and other languages.

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Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th — a little knowledge to quell the fear

Friday the 13th
Black cats are synonymous with superstitions on Friday the 13th / Pixabay

Friday the 13th, the unluckiest day

Today is Friday the 13th, one of the unluckiest days of the year in the Western world. The fear of the number 13 —triskaidekaphobia — goes back to Mediaeval times when the story of the Last Supper and crucifixion of Jesus Christ became commonplace among religious scholars.

Although Friday and the number 13 were both considered unlucky, the two together were never seen as extraordinarily unlucky by the superstitious.

It’s not quite known how the unlucky number 13 and Friday converged to become synonymous with fear and dread, but it wasn’t heard of before the nineteenth century. Paraskevidekatriaphobia, the fear of Friday the 13th may attribute its origin to Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, The Thirteenth, published in 1907. In it, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on the day. Thanks Thomas!

Others have suggested that the unholy day has its origin in a list of disasters and catastrophes that have occurred. Below are some of the more memorable ones.

  • five Nazi bombs fell on Buckingham Palace during the Blitz that destroyed the palace chapel and killed one member of staff
  • on Friday the 13th, October 1972, twelve people died instantly during an aeroplane crash in the Andes mountain range and more were killed in an avalanche thereafter. The survivors resorted to cannibalism of the dead passengers in order to live. The crash was later turned into a movie, Alive!
  • on Friday the 13th, November 1970, in Bangladesh, a cyclone made landfall that killed at least 300,000 people
  • legendary rapper, Tupac Shakur died from gunshot wounds in Los Angeles

Many other horror stories have made headlines around the world that affirm our worst fears surrounding this day.

Albeit, in Italy, the number 13 is known to bring good fortune; it’s Friday the 17th when Italians are most superstitious. This phobia has its origins in the Roman numeral for 17: XVII; however, when shuffled they read VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’; this implies that death is present.

Despite this old myth, young Italians have been Americanized by popular culture that they now regard Friday the 13th as equally dreadful.

Share your horror stories with us in the comments.

The STAR Team

Mount Elbrus, The Caucasus region

10 Oldest Languages Still Spoken Today

Mount Elbrus, The Caucasus region, 10 oldest languages still spoken today

Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain in the Caucasus region between Europe and Asia. A region known for its linguistic diversity / Wikipedia

10 Oldest Languages in Use Today

It is almost impossible to judge how old one language is from another. The evolution of language is virtually similar to biological evolution; like evolution, changes to a language happen minutely over the course of generations. However, there is no clearly discernible difference between one language and the next language, from which a language derived.

Despite this, each of the ten languages listed are considerably ancient yet still spoken today. Each with an intriguing history that differentiates it from a multitude of others.

Those 10 Ancient Languages

Hebrew
The Hebrew language is an interesting case on this list: it fell out of common usage circa 400 CE. Yet it remained preserved as a liturgical language for Jews around the world. The rise of Zionism in the 19th and 20th centuries revived the language until it became the official language of Israel. Hebrew speakers can fully understand the Old Testament in its original writings.
Tamil
Spoken by circa 78 million people, Tamil is officially recognized as a language of India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. This classical language has survived the ages. Dating back to the third century BCE, and still in continuous use today.
Lithuanian
Lithuanian, like most European languages, is Indo-European in origin. This group divided up c.3500 BCE. The most fascinating feature of Lithuanian is that it retained the sounds and grammar of its Proto-Indo-European ancestor, unlike that of its cousins.
Farsi
Mainly spoken in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Farsi is actually Persian, a direct descendant of Old Persian. Modern Persian first appeared circa 800 CE. Farsi speakers could quite easily read ancient texts in Persian with relative ease, more fluently than English speakers can read Shakespeare!

Ones you wouldn’t consider ancient

Icelandic
The Scandinavian language Icelandic is an Indo-European language from the North Germanic branch. This ancient language of the Norse peoples developed quite conservatively over the centuries. Amazingly, Icelanders can read their ancient sagas as if they were written yesterday.
Macedonian
This Slavic language belongs to the same family as Russian, Polish, Czech and Croatian. The Slavic language family is relatively young as far as languages are concerned and only split from Proto-Slavic, pre-ninth century CE.
Basque
The Basque language is a linguistic mystery. Spoken in regions that stretch across both France and Spain; it’s also unrelated to the Romance language family. The only explanation to explain it thus far, is that it existed long before the Romans arrived with the Latin they had spoken that subsequently developed into French and Spanish.
Finnish
The Finnish language is a member of the Finno-Ugric family which includes Estonian, Hungarian and several languages in minority groups across Siberia. Written down in the 16th century, its history is long. Interestingly, Finnish has many loanwords still in usage from Old Germanic and Gothic (those two languages do not exist today).
Georgian
Georgian is spoken in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, originating from the Caucasus region, the frontier between Europe and Asia. It’s part of the Kartvelian language family and unlike any other in the world. Although its alphabet is thought to be adapted from Aramaic.

Last but not least

Irish Gaelic
A minority of people in Ireland speak Irish (Gaeilge) today, but its history is long and artistic. A member of the Celtic branch of Indo-European languages, it existed long before the Germanic influences of Norse, Anglo-Saxon and Frisian landed on the British Isles. Scottish Gaelic and Manx derived from Irish Gaelic through migration. With the oldest vernacular of any language in Western Europe, the ancient Irish chose to write their manuscripts in Gaelic rather than the common Latin, at that time.
Graham O'Mahony, Blogger and Web Designer
Graham
Web Designer and Blogger
The STAR Team
Follow the conversation on Twitter logo @STARTranslation

Source: The Culture Trip

Rosetta Spacecraft Makes Historic Landing — Its Meaning Unearthed

Rosetta and The Comet Landing

Separation of Philae Lander from Rosetta Spacecraft

Separation of Philae Lander from Rosetta Spacecraft. ©2014 ESA

What’s happening now?

At 08:30 GMT on the 12th of November 2014, the Philae (spacecraft) (lander) separated from the Rosetta Mission spacecraft. The Rosetta spacecraft left Earth 10 years ago to make its journey to a distant comet known as Comet 67P/C-G.

This has never been achieved by humans before! But what’s its significance? It’s all about discovering the origins of our solar system. Scientists hope to be able to study the oldest building blocks of such systems: comets.

Why did the ESA, European Space Agency, name it Rosetta?

In 1799, archaeologists found a volcanic basalt slab of rock near the Egyptian town of Rashid (Rosetta to us). Thus, the stone was named Rosetta and it helped revolutionise our understanding of an ancient civilisation.

There were three carved inscriptions on the stone, all written in two forms of Greek and Egyptian. The mysterious hieroglyphics — the written language of the ancient Egyptians, as they became known —  were eventually deciphered by historians. It was a breakthrough for scholars and linguists around the world and enabled the history of an almost forgotten culture to be pieced together.

The Rosetta Stone was the key to an ancient civilisation. The scientists at the ESA named their intrepid Rosetta mission so, as it will allow them to unlock the mysteries of all comets alike. And to better understand our solar system’s formation.

The lander is scheduled to rendezvous with comet 67P /C-G at 15:30 GMT on the 12th of November 2014.

Join the conversation on Twitter: Use #CometLanding

Graham,
The STAR Team

The Origins of Football

FIFA World Cup 2014, Brasil

Ready for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil / Official logo of FIFA World Cup Brazil

The Origins of Football through the Ages

One game grabs the attention of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Its objectives are simple yet engaging! We tackle the origins of association football and others alike, to get you into the spirit of the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Episkyros in Ancient Greece

Football has its origins in the unlikeliest of places around the world. The ancient Greeks played a ball game called ‘Episkyros’ (circa 388 to 311 BC) which is recognised as an early form of football by FIFA. While the Romans played a similar game adapted from the Greek ‘Episkyros’ called ‘Harpastum’. Both of these games allowed players to use both their hands and feet. The Romans played it with a small, hard air-filled ball; it was a violent sport. Game rules have not survived to this day. Some accounts have recorded that it was played with two teams, each consisted of about 12 to 14 players.

Ancient China

The ancient Chinese ball game, Cuju, is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence, as recognised by FIFA. The game has records dating back from the 3rd century to the 1st century BC. Eventually rules were established allowing the games to become standardized. Cuju, literally meaning “kicking ball” quickly spread throughout China and into Japan and Korea at later periods. During the Asuka period in Japan (538 to 710 AD), a game called ‘Kemari’, a variation of the Chinese Cuju, was played.

Mediaeval England

Games similar to this modern form of football have appeared the world over and yet, each with similar rules and objectives. Some may extend as far back as before the ages of antiquity, but with little or no evidence of such. Just vague accounts of games among military men involving a ball. Their very nature as ancient ball games mean they bear little influence on modern football rules played at the World Cup. During the middle ages, there was a rise in the growth and popularity of football games involving parishes and local communities. Most of which took place in England.

An English festival details an annual sport called Shrovetide football while other games of similar leisure were played at Christmastime and Easter. In Mediaeval Europe, “mob football” was popular among towns and villages. Played by local townsfolk, mob football saw an unlimited players of opposing teams clash as they kicked around an inflated animal’s bladder or a leather ball. One such account of what was possibly an early form of football comes from Ulgham, Northumberland in England in 1280.

Mob football became a menace to early English society from the 13th to the 15th centuries, which resulted in the Fooball Act 1424, prohibiting any football being played in public. Despite its enforcement, the law fell into disuse and wasn’t repealed until 1906. There is much evidence of schoolboys playing football across the British Isles from the 1500s to the 1800s.

A civilized Sport

Many well-known English gentry were advocates of “footeball“. Richard Mulcaster who had been a student at the prestigious and famous Eton College during the early 16th century, was an advocate of the sport. His wide contributions took football from its violent forms of street play to organised teams. Muclaster standardized the beautiful game. The later half of the 16th century through to the early 17th century saw public schoolboys partake in recreational football games. Children were once part of the workforce in Britain during this time; they had spent what free time they had organising football games with formal codes of rules. It was these foundations that gave rise to modern football and association football alike.

Forming Clubs

As rules progressed, organisations and clubs were established in many parts of Britain. One club was the first documented to bear the title of football, “The Foot-ball Club”, located in Edinburgh, Scotland. It ran from 1824 to 1841. The club’s rules forbade the intentional act of tripping, but allowed pushing and the kicking and handling of the ball.

Ireland and the GAA

There were similar football-like games being played in Ireland in the 1800s. Not until 1884 with the establishment of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) that any serious attempts to code and unify the sport were made. Another football sport arose during the early 19th century: Rugby. The sport of Rugby derived from football. Elite clubs sought to unify football thus, creating unique rules of play for well educate young men. In 1871, 21 Rugby clubs came together from around London and set up the Rugby Football Union (RFU) with the intent of unifying the sport’s practice and code.

Up in the Air

The sole origin of football is inconclusive. The word itself references the action of a foot kicking a ball and was widely played in Mediaeval Europe without formal rules. The act of kicking a ball by foot for sport was popular around the world; this can account for football’s popularity as such cultures with a history of a similar game can relate to its modern cousin. Nowadays, depending on the country you are in, it can be an entirely different game. For instance, Americans call what we call American football, football! American football allows players to handle and kick the ball. In Canada and some parts of Europe and Asia, association football is known as “soccer”. Soccer is a shortening of “assoc” (association) plus “-er”.

Vamos

The FIFA World Cup 2014 will commence on Thursday 12th June, at 21:00 with Brazil Vs. Croatia. You can catch the entire line up on the official website for the FIFA World Cup 2014. Did you know that the official language in Brazil is Portuguese! Vamos!

The STAR Team

A Brief History Of The English Language

English Language History

English is a West Germanic language. Its history and origins are divided into three stages:

  • Old English
  • Middle English
  • Contemporary English

A Brief History Of The English Language

Old English

Otherwise known as Anglo-Saxon, was formed between the years 700 and 1100 AD. The first English words arrived in England during many invasions from people in neighbouring lands such as the Jutes from Denmark, the Angles and Saxons from what is now modern day Germany, the Frisians from what is now the northern Netherlands & parts of Belgium and the Nordic Vikings from what is now Norway and Sweden. There are still a great number of Anglo-Saxon words used today, as a result of the communication between these various Germanic peoples. Take the English word call: its origins lie in the Viking word, “caellian” meaning, to call or to scream.

Scandinavian and German influences are felt today, but Old English is very far from the current English you and I know well — its alphabet is almost unrecognisable.

Middle English

From 1100 AD onwards, and into the dark ages, signified an important advancement of the English language. It was from the late 12th century to the late 15th century that Middle English was predominantly spoken throughout the island of Great Britain. When William I of Normandy, also known as William the Conqueror, won the battle for England against the Anglo-Saxons, he was crowned as William I, Norman King of England. Norman-French became the court language and 65,000 emigrant French scholars brought their language influences with them, too. The common people of England still spoke Old English, however, over time French words gradually made their way into the slowly evolving Middle English dialect. To this day, many French words are still in use, as they were mostly new words without an English equivalent.

One English word of interest is ‘dandelion‘. Having arrived in Middle English during the late middle ages; anglicised from the Old French word ‘dent-de-lion‘, it literally means ‘lion’s tooth‘. There is no record of this plant having an official name in old English. Although it has had many colloquial names attached to it throughout early Mediaeval European history. Perhaps you may have heard of ‘piss-a-bed‘ or ‘blowball‘ or, ‘Irish daisy‘.

Contemporary English

From the late 15th century, the humble inception of Contemporary English began. Just before the initial stages of the Renaissance in the Italian states, English began to have a real grammatical structure. There is a strong influence of Greek and Latin with words like maternity, skeleton, vacuum, explain & system. The English representative of this period of ‘rebirth’ was William Shakespeare (1564-1616), one of the World’s most famous writers. Shakespeare was known for bringing new life into ancient classical words and even creating some of his own. The word ‘moonbeam‘ is one such example of his clever contractions of already existing words, but by placing them together he gave them new meaning.

Even today, one can see minor changes that countries like the United Sates, Canada, Australia & New Zealand have made on English. All Languages continue to evolve over time, especially the English language because it is so widely spoken. Who knows what English will look and sound like in one hundred years time.

To Be Continued.

The STAR Team