Time for some more #Estonian politics tweeting.

The day before yesterday the news broke that the Finance Ministry, headed by the national-conservative #EKRE party will no longer finance several organizations dedicated to social justice. Image
The organizations are as follows:
- Estonian Women's Union (ENÜ)
- Estonian Women's Studies & Research Center (ENUT)
- Estonian Foundation for Human Rights (EIK).

In February, the current finance minister Martin Helme stated that these institutions are financed illegally. ImageImage
Institutions such as the above mentioned are financed directly by taxes on gambling (hasartmängumaks), the corresponding law stating: "the use of gambling taxes is considered for projects related to medicine, healthcare, families, seniors and disabled people".
The Finance Ministry argues that many projects run by these organizations are in conflict with the law, e.g. "equal opportunities in a pluralistic society", "men's and women's roles in local governments" and "sexual and gender minorities' community support and protection".
The Finance Ministry's decision was criticized by Social Minister Tanel Kiik, noting that the former does not have the legal authority to unilaterally break off what constitutes an already-signed agreement. Minister Kiik called the move "legally and ideologically cynical". Image
Minister Kiik insisted that if the Finance Ministry decides to cut this source of funding, it is their responsibility to find another. He added that despite him being on holidays right now, he'd be happy to meet the Finance Minister. To be continued?

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More from @koutchoukalimar

Mar 22, 2022
As I'm nearing the end of my thesis, I wanted to share with Twitter some things I've been working on.

For those don't know: my thesis on linguistic change (in its broader social context) in Late Antique South Arabia (c. 300 – 800 AD).

It's a WIP, so things may change!
Before the coming of Islam, South Arabia (think what is now Yemen, but a bit bigger) had been home to several civilizations which had their own languages and also wrote in another script. Though sharing a distant ancestor, the South Arabian and Arabic scripts are very different! ImageImage
The recorded history of South Arabia begins c. 1000 and BC, when the Sabaeans adopted the South Arabian script and began writing inscriptions. Over the next centuries, this script got adopted by the other major South Arabian states: Maʿīn, Qataban, and Ḥaḍramawt. Image
Read 19 tweets
Nov 2, 2021
Was there anyone who could read South Arabian inscriptions after the coming of Islam?

A thread 🧵re-evaluating the skills of the Yemeni scholar al-Hamdānī (died c. 950), and what he knew about the inscriptions of pre-Islamic South Arabia.
Al-Hamdānī was so well-known for his knowledge on anything related to South Arabia that he earned the nickname Lisān al-Yaman, i.e. "The tongue of Yemen". This is no joke: he knew things about astronomy, geography, history, topography, linguistics, folklore, metallurgy, and more.
As far as we know, he authored three books:
- Ṣifat ǧazīrat al-ʿarab, "Description of the Arabian Peninsula"
- Kitāb al-ǧawharatayn, "The book of the two metals [i.e. gold & silver")
- Kitāb al-Iklīl, "The Crowns".

Of this last one, only volumes 1, 2, 8, 10 & 12 survived.
Read 17 tweets
Nov 1, 2021
This inspired me to make a small🧵about this phenomenon from one of my own fields of study, the niche field of pre-Islamic South Arabian studies.

About South Arabia's identification with India (what?!) and sourcing on Wikipedia. Let's have a look.
This is from the Wikipedia page "South Arabia". Overall, it's not bad. At times, it feels a bit amateuristic, but I've seen worse.
But look at the etymology part. Yes, sometimes South Arabia is identified with India in Greek and Roman (and also Jewish Aramaic) texts, but why? ImageImage
Wikipedia says that's because the Persians, who annexed the area around 560, thought Indians and Ethiopians were similar, as both are "dark-skinned". This makes alarm bells go off, because references to South Arabia-as-India are much older than that. But let's look at the source.
Read 10 tweets
Jan 29, 2021
Last week I tweeted this. One of the comments argued that the origin of Arabic qamīṣ < Latin camisia is hypothetical. It reminds me of people sometimes say "well [proven thing] is just a *theory*".

A thread on methods in historical linguistics.

The further one goes back in history, the more difficult it becomes to find direct evidence for how a word was pronounced or where it came from. Many cultures, but certainly not all, invented writing systems, making our job somewhat easier, but certainly not always.
So what kind of methods can we use to figure out where a word came from.

Firstly: phonology. As a language changes, so does pronunciation. Certain sound changes are much more common than others. For example, /k/ > /t͡ʃ/ is much more common than //t͡ʃ/> k.
Read 20 tweets
Dec 25, 2020

For Christmas, let's talk a bit how Christianity spread to South Arabia. And fully in the spirit of the season, this is a story of slavery and mass murder. Image
Most people who know something about South Arabian history have heard about the martyrs of Najran. In or around 523 CE, the South Arabian ruler Yūsuf ʾAšʿar Yaʾṯar (called Dhū Nuwās by later Muslim authors ) massacred the entire Christian population of Najrān. Image
Most Muslims connected this event with what the Qur'ān (85:4-7) calls the "Companions of the pit" (ʾaṣḥab al-uḫdūd). The Qur'ānic allusion is rather vague, so other interpretations are also possible. This is discussed in David Cook's article "The Aṣḥab al-Uḫdūd". Image
Read 13 tweets
Sep 29, 2020
Last evening a small back and forth btw @stephenniem and myself about the famed minaret of the mosque of Samarra made me wonder: hey, where did the idea come from that the minaret was inspired by ancient Sumerian ziggurats? They don't seem at similar at all!

A small THREAD
When you go to Wikipedia, you can find this citation. Hmm, not so bold.

The citation comes from the second volume of Henri Stierlin's Comprendre l'Architecture Universelle, p. 347. I don't have access to this book, but it turns out that it's cited rather often.
Delving a little deeper (and honestly, not too much), I found a reference in Kleiner's 2012 "Gardner's Art Through The Ages": "once thought to be an ancient Mesopotamian ziggurat, the Samarra minaret inspired some [...] depictions of the [...] Tower of Babel".
Read 12 tweets

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