The Ancient History of Diglossia

Diglossia is when a single community uses two languages or dialects. It is only diglossia if this is a stable situation -- not a transition from one language to another. In diglossia, one language is for everyday use (the low language), and one language is for specific situations (the high language) such as literature, formal education, or religious activities. The high language usually has no native speakers. Examples are Latin, used by scholars in the European Middle Ages, Mandarin for official communications and local dialects for everyday use in China, and literary Tamil versus spoken Tamil.

The earliest known diglossia is Middle Egyptian, the language in everyday use in Ancient Egypt during the Middle Kingdom (2000 - 1650 BCE). By the New Kingdom (1550 -1050 BCE) the language had evolved into Late Egyptian. And by the Persians, then Ptolemies, then Roman Empire, the language had evolved into Demotic (700 BCE - 400 CE). But Middle Egyptian remained the standard written, prestigious form, the high language, and was still in use until the 300s CE. That means it was used, unchanged, for over 1,900 years after people had stopped speaking it!

Bethune-Cookman Student, and Welder in the NYA (National Youth Administration) School

Daytona Beach, Florida, in January 1943

The town of Plymouth used to be the only port of entry to the island of Montserrat, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom in the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. The town was evacuated in 1995 when the nearby Soufrière Hills volcano began erupting. What remained of Plymouth was officially abandoned in 1997. But the town is still the de jure capital city of Montserrat. That makes Plymouth the only ghost town in the world that serves as the capital of a political territory.

In the early 1900s, sex glands from animals were transplanted into human males in an effort to rejuvenate their sex hormones and counteract aging. Unsurprisingly, it did not work as intended. And the side effects were often fatal.

In 1925, a Massachusetts woman agreed to give her husband a divorce, provided that he built for her an exact duplicate of the house that they shared in the local town. He built her house: on an uninhabited island without a fresh water source. Because the house had to be an exact replica it had pipes and running water -- filled with unusable saltwater. The house is affectionately known as "The Pink House" and is now owned by the US government as part of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo credit to Shawn Fitzgerald

Global Distribution of Penguins

This map is not very relevant to history but it makes me smile. Also, did you know that there are more species of penguins living outside of Antarctica than in Antarctica?

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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