A study of the relationships or correspondences between the languages that have a common origin. Formerly known as Comparative Grammar, Comparative Philology.

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All things equal, does the number of words affect comprehension time?

The English sentence 'He runs' comprises two syllables. The Spanish sentence 'Corre' comprises two syllables. Both sentences mean the same thing, both sentences take about the same amount of time to ...
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30 views

Using Swadesh lists to find languages with most frequent vowel use?

Has there been any comparative studies of Swadesh lists from different language, regarding percentage of vowels vs. consonants? Some languages can occassionally be "derogative" talked about as "only ...
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58 views

What is the linguistically process behind prolonging of vowels?

Vowels can change from short vowels to long vowels in time But from a diachronic perspective, what is happening? Please fill in with some examples of vowels that have been prolonged and that have ...
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130 views

Why are the plural and singular first person forms of the verb “go” so different in the Romance languages?

In many Romance languages, the first person plural and singular forms are completely different: French (aller): je vais, nous allons Italian (andare): io vado, noi andiamo Catalan (anar): jo vaig, ...
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49 views

How different are Urdu and Hindi?

My family are Pakistani, but I never learned Urdu as a child. I'd like to learn a little, primarily as a means of keeping this part of my heritage alive. However, the pragmatist in me realizes that ...
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164 views

Is it obvious that the difference between French/German is much larger than between Mandarin/Cantonese?

In another Linguistics.SE question, an answer makes this claim: The difference between French and German is so much larger than between Mandarin/Cantonese that one would be hard pressed to say ...
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1answer
121 views

Does Korean have two classes of adjectives correlating to the -i and -na adjectives of Japanese?

It's widely claimed that Japanese and Korean have very similar grammars despite their differences in (non Chinese-derived) lexicon. Whether they're actually genetically related can be regarded as an ...
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2answers
107 views

Germanic comparative grammars?

Can anyone recommend a good comparative grammar of the Germanic languages -- or, failing that, good historical grammars specifically for Old English and Old Norse? Ideally, what I want is a ...
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358 views

Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

Following Sklivvz's advice, I propose here a question I made in Italian Language. Because I am not sure how I should do this, I will just copy/paste the whole lot. Let's count in Latin from one to ...
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86 views

Conflation of “sense of touch” with “emotional well-being”?

I vaguely remember reading something years ago on this subject --an article in a magazine or something, I don't even remember-- but what I do remember is the theme that it's supposedly common for ...
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277 views

Looking for comparison of Lao (or Thai) and Zhuang languages

I'm soon crossing the Lao/China border and after gaining some familiarity with Lao in my capacity as an "armchair linguist on the road" I'm very interested in experiencing some Zhuang language before ...
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124 views

Words for fractions

While in English we have a "quarter" and a " half" as two words which denote fractions, in Hindi we have separate words for half ('Aadha'), Quarter ('Sava'), three-quarters ('Pauna'), One and a half ...
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2k views

What is the relation between the words “Cossack” and “Kazakh”?

These two words in English would appear to refer to foreign peoples / cultures known to the Rus within recorded history. The Russian wikipedia pages indicate a surface similarity in spelling: ...
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190 views

The shout symbol?

wikipedia : Devnagari :- : "The avagraha ऽ (usually transliterated with an apostrophe) is a Sanskrit punctuation mark for the elision of a vowel in sandhi: एकोऽयम् ekoyam (< ekas + ayam) "this ...
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167 views

Do the Thai masculine & feminine “polite particles” have counterparts in Lao?

In Thai there are particles which can be used at the end of many sentences to make them more polite. Different particles are used by male and female speakers: "ครับ" (kráp) : male "ค่ะ" (kâ) : ...
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4answers
2k views

What are the exact relations between Slovak and Slovene?

The former seems to have more speakers, while the latter seems to possess the elder history. Slovak said to be a West Slavic language, while Slovene seems to belong to the South Slavic group ...
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3answers
91 views

What is the most ancient form of Armenian verb 'to be'?

The infinitive form of the verb in Eastern Armenian (provided there are infinitives) is a suppletive 'linEl'. I am surprised to notice its resemblance to most Finno-Ugric words of similar meaning, ...
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137 views

What is the history of Eastern and Western Armenian dialects?

Are there any regular phonetical correspondences between grammatical patterns of both dialects? Which one is thought to be the 'real' Armenian? When and how did the dialects split? Is Western ...
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2answers
314 views

Hebrew - Arabic grammar book

I've been searching for quite a long time for a Hebrew-Arabic grammar book to study both languages in more depth at the same time while being able to compare similar roots and the root system for ...
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116 views

Do all languages with pre-positional articles have zero-articles if they don't have post-positional articles?

To clarify, pre-positional articles are the articles positioned before a noun they refer to, like English the or a(n). Post-positional articles are those positioned after a noun they refer to, like ...
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84 views

What is the exact domain of a grammar? [closed]

E.g. transformational grammars or probabilistic grammars deal with language structures, branching, semantic ranging, etc. They are dealing with more or less 'rational', or logical cocepts. But what ...
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48 views

Is there a correspondence between contextual semantics and the type of language?

Most of the isolating languages I am familiar with have context-bound semantics either in division into parts of speech (e.g. Chinese) or word meaning (Yoruba), or both (Chinese, again). E.g., in ...
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184 views

Which indigenous languages have marked Ancestral/Mythological Past in grammars?

I have found a mention on such a system among some South American native languages in Adam Jacot de Boinod's book I Never Knew There's A Word For It. Non-academic reading, which doesn't make it less ...
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3answers
309 views

Forming an imperative mood by using other grammatical moods or aspects across the languages

I'm looking for some comparative analysis that would indicate how imperative meaning can be built in various languages by using grammatical moods other than imperative. The reason is that in many ...
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372 views

Where do we find the highest “language density”?

At Travel.SE it was pointed out that in Georgia (the country), a visitor would have use of learning Georgian, Russian, and Armenian. That's three very different languages, with three quite different ...
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261 views

Is there a known rule of correspondence between Latin and Greek *p and *kʷ - in other languages?

It seems to me that some words that have -p- in stem in Latin have clearly reconstructible -ku̯- based on other Indo-European languages. Some examples include *u̯lpes - *u̯lku̯os ("wolf") *u̯esper - ...
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328 views

Linguistic idiomaticity in different languages

I've been reading this article about linguistic idiomaticity, and there's a good research on English idioms and indirect speech, in general. I've been thinking on different amounts of idiomaticity in ...
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4answers
489 views

Are there any languages with the equivalent of “both” for three items?

Referring to this question it seems that English does not have the equivalent of "both" for three items. Although it would seem to be a useful word, I am unaware of its existence in any languages. Is ...
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2answers
163 views

What strategies for efficiency are adopted by languages with minimal phonemic inventories?

As the size of a phonemic inventory decreases, the information rate allowed by the inventory should likewise decrease. So are there any (semantico-)pragmatic or morphosyntactic strategies that ...
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493 views

Efficient linguistic algorithms for detecting language of a website?

Some browser addons and web-services for website/dictionary translation sometimes offer a "automatic-language-detection" feature. This works more or less in my experience. There is probably a variety ...
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2answers
472 views

How can I distinguish Dutch from Flemish from Afrikaans at a glance?

I don't know Dutch, Flemish, or Afrikaans, but will sometimes, on coming across a writing sample of one of them, wish to know which it is. How do I distinguish them in their written forms?
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225 views

How can I distinguish modern Scandinavian languages at a glance?

I don't know Danish, Nynorsk, or Bokmål, but will sometimes, on coming across a writing sample of one of them, wish to know which it is. How do I distinguish them in their written forms? (I'd include ...
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701 views

Is there any sentence structure that English has but Chinese (Mandarin) does not?

Chinese (Mandarin) translation of my question may be an example of the sentence structure that both English and Chinese share: [Is there any] [sentence structure] (that) [English has but Chinese ...
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1answer
163 views

What is the evidence for laryngeal in *méh₂tēr?

Wikitionary shows a PIE word *méh₂tēr but I never seen this word spelled with a laryngeal. There was a long vowel there but how is it correct to analyze it to be *-eh₂- rather than just *ā?
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1answer
184 views

Origin of *dhvor-

Formerly as I remember I saw somewhere *dhvor- (door, gate, yard, court) connected with the root *vert- (turn) in PIE. This is quite realistic and can be supported with similar Russian words створка ...
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547 views

How it happened that evolution of “mater” and “pater” is different despite their similar origin?

With an addition of PIE relatives suffix *-ter-, Eurasiatic *ama, *apa became Old PIE *mā-ter-s, *pa-ter-s (the final -s was later lost in late PIE) But there is a difference: in Old PIE *māters the ...
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4answers
526 views

Do linguists measure the relation distance between languages? How?

Sometimes, I read passages like: Languages X, Y and Z in region A are closely related to each other, comparable to French, Italian and Spanish in Western Europe. The discussion in the question ...
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231 views

Which cues can I listen for to distinguish spoken Georgian and Armenian?

I'm living in an area of Tbilisi Georgia that is traditionally the ethnic Armenian area. I would like to take the opportunity to listen to people in the street to detect whether anybody is speaking ...
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425 views

How common is word order change?

During the course of their development, the word order of some languages change. Examples include Latin (SOV) that changed to SVO in the Romance languages, Proto-Austronesian (verb initial) that ...
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2answers
455 views

Why do languages have different syllable complexity from each other?

Assuming human vocal tracts are similar and equally capable of articulating different syllable structures, why is it that languages develop different syllable complexity? Why is it that it is not ...
6
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2answers
121 views

Are there some studies or resources comparing the two living creole languages in Australia?

In Australia there are two creoles in daily use, Kriol (rop, also known as Roper River Creole etc) in the Northern Territory with about 30,000 speakers and Torres Strait Creole (tcs, also known as ...
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2answers
524 views

Why does the name of the flower 'Forget-me-not' have the same meaning in other languages?

The flower forget-me-not is named "Vergissmeinnicht" in German and "Незабудка" in Russian. The meaning is the same in all three languages. Is this a coincidence?
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9answers
574 views

Are there grammatical analyses of languages that are extremely different from IE grammar?

It's a fact that the grammar core of most European languages (not only IE ones) can be analysed in a relatively precise common framework. Of course I do not know much of these languages, but the basic ...
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1answer
115 views

Is there a reference for the parameters of the world's languages?

The principles and parameters paradigm says that most languages in the world have their individual structure (grammatical meta-rules) set (and easily learnable) by a small set of principles and ...
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394 views

Is it possible to analyse Māori grammar without contrasting nouns and verbs?

In order to prepare myself for a glorious sports event this weekend, I've bought and read a book about Māori. If my sources are to be believed, Māori is relatively close to other Polynesian languages, ...
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309 views

Is it possible to predict language changes?

The comparative method is used to reconstruct unattested languages from the attested ones. By comparing different sounds for the same words in various sister languages, it is possible to infer some ...
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236 views

Where can I find a reliable academic source of translations of words to the world's languages?

In this recent question, I was trying to research a list of translation for "no", and a quick google found this page. That website also has other similar pages, like translation of "Hello", "Good ...
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Articles before the name of a person

In the question “La” or “le” before a person's name? on the French SE site, the asker refers to the phenomenon that in some rural/dialect settings the first name of a person is preceded by the ...