Comparisons across (as opposed to within) languages or language families.

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2
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1answer
55 views

Does “I don't drink.” mean “I don't drink alcohol.” in all languages? [duplicate]

In those languages I'm a bit familiar with, the verb for drinking is very often understood as drinking alcohol, especially if its meaning "the oral intake of any fluid", wouldn't make sense. For ...
4
votes
0answers
107 views

The expressive power of languages : Information content in a sentence : How do we measure it

'What is your name'; 'Isme shoma chi e' Two sentences - same content. My question is about the way to measure information content in a language. How do we do this? Because quite evidently count of ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

What is the web-searchable database of linguistic features?

Years ago, I heard of a website that allowed you to search thousands of described languages by feature, like consonant inventory and word order. It was an acronym, and I think it had multiple W's in ...
1
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0answers
41 views

Distal features of wh-words cross-linguistically

My question concerns distal marking on Wh-words. Pronouns like 'this'/'here' and 'that'/'there' show clear marking of the proximal/distal distinction. Wh-words seem to exhibit some similarities to ...
1
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2answers
45 views

Tackling cross-linguistic vowel markedness system[at]ically: features or what?

I have been trying to find alternative ways of representing vowel phonemes for cross-linguistic comparisons in a unified, systematic way that would also reveal their relative (un)markedness. At the ...
1
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2answers
67 views

Chinese 3rd tone: cross-linguistic comparison

I'm wondering about the rate of occurence of complex tone contours like the Mandarin Chinese third tone, the falling-rising tone. By "complex" I mean that its contour isn't simply a rising, falling, ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

Looking for complementary word related to "xenophobia'

The Greek-rooted word "xenophobia" is commonly used to refer to "unjustified fear of an 'other'" in English. I'm looking some words which have related but different meanings: "unjustified ...
5
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3answers
421 views
-1
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1answer
93 views

Why do peoples(Europe, Asia, Africa, etc) call “God” in very similar ways? [closed]

UK: dieu(the motto on passport - French)/deity(English word) China: tien(Chinese Wade-Giles... t->d) South Africa: modimo(o->əʊ) New Zealand: atua(Maori... t->d) North America: tirawa(Pawnee... w->u ...
0
votes
3answers
78 views

Defining Linguistics

Studying Japanese, I finally broke the mindset of trying to turn Japanese phrases into English phrases. Doing this has made the study of Japanese much easier for me. Then I got to thinking, usually I ...
1
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0answers
55 views

Is it right that repetition in English is not so pervasive?

In Chinese, word repetition is very pervasive, for example pao lai pao qu 'run come run go'. However, this direct translation is not good English. Does the native English speaker intend to avoid this ...
0
votes
1answer
79 views

Are there comparative studies of lexical variety in different languages?

I'm not a linguist, but really curious about how different languages measure up in terms of how many different ways of expressing the same notion they offer. For example, Chinese is definitely a more ...
5
votes
1answer
89 views

What languages are writer-responsible?

It seems like every scholar since Hinds has only mentioned English as a writer-responsible language, which is also used to contrast reader-responsible languages (that are usually identified as Asian ...
4
votes
4answers
268 views

Etymology of basic numerals (number words)

When speakers of a language coin words for one, two, three, four, etc., for the first time, where do they come up with the forms? Are there any common methods used across language families? Pirahã ...
3
votes
1answer
133 views

Why do French/German speakers round [ð] to /z/ while Italian/Hebrew speakers round it to /d/?

More generally, what factors determine which phoneme a non-phonemic foreign sound gets rounded to in a specific language when there are multiple possibilities available? Is the choice always ...
1
vote
0answers
301 views

What is the origin and meaning of the word/name “Idora”? (Shortened)

I have been researching the word "Idora" for a couple years now in hopes of discovering the meaning as it applies to the defunct trolley park "Idora Park" formerly in Youngstown, Ohio. "Idora Park" ...
3
votes
0answers
98 views

What languages use grammaticalized spoonerisms?

Here I define a "spoonerism" as the exchange of onset sounds between initially accented words in a phrase: "sh(oving l)eopard" instead of "loving shepherd" "f(ighting a l)iar" instead of "lighting a ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

Is there a language without words which correspond to the concepts 'I', 'They', 'We'

I was wondering if a language exists without the ability to express the notions of 'I', 'We', 'they' etc. Would it be possible to communicate without these concepts being expressible as a ...
0
votes
2answers
246 views

why do in japanese phonetically and morphologically simple words like ついつい express semantically complex concepts like “unintentionally”? [closed]

in order to express an idea like "against one 's better judgement" one would have to use, for instance in English or German more complicated words with respect to their phonetic and morphology: ...
-1
votes
2answers
121 views

Unknown language on back of paintings [closed]

Can you clarify what language these writings are in and what they say?
1
vote
0answers
127 views

Why is less consistent SVO more common than VSO or VOS?

"Language Change as a Source of Word Order Correlations", by Brady Clark, Matthew Goldrick, and Kenneth Konopka, is among the many sources dating back to Greenberg (1966) stating that language ...
1
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0answers
59 views

Is there a data set of elementary typical phrases translated in different languages?

To be more explicit, I think about a collection of "abstract" sentences which could be categorized in such a way that they would be easily identified in any language. For example, some typical phrases ...
13
votes
14answers
3k views

What languages use numbers to name the week days and months?

I know in Chinese, the days in a week from Monday to Sunday are called 星期一, 星期二, ..., 星期六, 星期日, which are verbatim translated as weekday one (or 1st weekday), weekday two (or 2nd weekday), ..., ...
9
votes
2answers
392 views

Why do so many languages have a phase like “so-so”?

Many languages seem to have some sort of repeating and/or singsong equivalent of the phrase so-so: Arabic: نصف نصف (nisf nisf) Chinese: 馬馬虎虎 (mǎma hūhu) Greek: έτσι κι έτσι Hebrew: ...
2
votes
6answers
715 views

Which is the hardest language for a software translator to translate into English? [closed]

Many people i see over online auction sites and such use software translators for their benefit, but sometimes the outcome can be somewhat curious. Are these inaccuracies caused by the use of informal ...
3
votes
2answers
122 views

Reasons for things named same way in seemingly unrelated languages

How did it come different languages share idiomatic expressions, or name something in same words? Like, take word "inflammation" for example. In English, it's "in(ner)" and "flame". In Ukrainian, ...
1
vote
2answers
993 views

List of phoneme per language

I there a resource that lists the phonemes that are used in different languages? I would prefer a ranking of the most common phonemes within each language like in this example: German: 1 /ɛ/ 2 /ə/ ...
7
votes
3answers
250 views

Relationship between possession (“to have”) and tenses (“I have seen”)

In several Indo-European languages the verb that denotes possession (to have) is also used to construct verb tenses. Some examples: I have seen ... I have a dog. (English) Am văzut ... Am un ...
0
votes
3answers
263 views

Are Indian languages distinct or do they differ in dialect?

I speak Malayalam, one of the Indian languages and also Hindi but there are always common words which I assume are original Sanskrit words? So are the languages truly distinct or can I say the ...
3
votes
1answer
203 views

Language transfer for second language learners (French-English)

How does language transfer occur from French to English within native french speakers' mind? Can we observe this phenomenon ?
-1
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1answer
538 views

recent topics in linguistics [closed]

what are the recent controversial issues in - pragmatics. -socio-linguistics. that are receiving the experts' attention ?
2
votes
2answers
250 views

Are there other languages where pronouns behave like they do in Japanese, Korean, and Ryukyuan?

In Japanese and Korean (and I have to assume the Okinawan / Ryukyuan languages also), pronouns are quite different from most other languages from most families in at least two ways I can think of: ...
1
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0answers
73 views

Name for “all things able to be referenced” by a language

Is there a name for the collection of all things that can be referenced in a language; a language's universe perhaps? For example, the "universe" of English would contain most all things/concepts we ...
2
votes
1answer
112 views

Active vocabulary for Anglophones compared to native speakers of other languages

A site search has turned me up Size of active vocabulary in hunter gather tribes, and Which language has the biggest vocabulary?, but neither of those seem to address what I want to know about. I ...
5
votes
2answers
196 views

What morphosyntactic features are associated with VSO?

In an answer to another question, librik cited Orin Gensler's observation that Insular Celtic and Semitic share a surprisingly large feature complex. This makes it hard for a layman with ready access ...
3
votes
2answers
77 views

What is a good way to represent data in a multilingual dictionary? Wordnet alternatives or extensions?

I'm not a linguist so forgive my misuse of terminology... I'm looking for a data structure to represent dictionary entries. A dictionary would have words translated to other languages along with links ...
7
votes
2answers
354 views

Are “nine” and “new” etymologically or historically connected?

Is there a connection between the word "nine" and "new"? The two words are similar in many languages.
4
votes
1answer
63 views

Are there languages with three non-neutral “strong” divisions of vowel harmony?

Most languages with vowel harmony seem to have two main divisions of vowels plus a neutral division. The main division is along one vowel dimension such as frontness/backness or +/- ATR (advanced ...
6
votes
1answer
292 views

What motivates / allows preposition stranding in English, but disallows it in other languages, like Mandarin?

If someone could direct me to papers/sites that describe this, and a summary or something, that would be great. It is just a parameter for languages? What do linguists think so far? Example: "Which ...
0
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0answers
23 views

Kokkova or kokkora carved on ivory

My question is to try to find the origin of the word kokkova. I have an antique/primitive pin made of ivory which if I had to guess would say that it is walrus but not 100% sure. It is scrimshawed ...
1
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0answers
68 views

Grice's cooperative principless

Based on Pragmatics Approach, there is one of the principle that involves in communication. It is cooperative principle. This principle consists of 4 maxims. There are maxim of quality (Truthful), ...
2
votes
1answer
175 views

What problems should be solved when making multi-language dictionary? [closed]

Let's pretend we are producing four-language cross-dictionary. For it to be more difficult, let it be a Russian-English-Japanese-Sanskrit dictionary. By "cross-dictionary" I mean that the person ...
0
votes
1answer
209 views

The double ⟨l⟩ in Spanish

In Spanish, some words start with the double consonant graphemes ⟨ll⟩ - that have indeed the value of /ʎ/. Is there any language that have a similar pattern (starting with double consonants)? What is ...
2
votes
2answers
235 views

Do the Thai and Lao negative particles, “ไม่” (mai) and “ບໍ່” (bo) have reflexes in the other language?

In my continuing interest in this pair of closely related languages I have noticed each uses an unrleated word for the negative particle meaning "no", "not", etc. Thai: ไม่ (mai) Lao: ບໍ່ (bo) ...
7
votes
1answer
295 views

How does expressing possession vary across language families?

Related: http://english.stackexchange.com/q/126519/17952 Backstory: I recently was explaining a couple of Marathi phrases to my friend, and I realized that the language doesn't have the word ...
2
votes
1answer
185 views

How do I romanize words from the Akha Language?

I'm sorry for putting up such a specific question here but any help will be really appreciated. Akha is the language spoken by the Akha people of southern China (Yunnan Province), eastern Burma ...
6
votes
2answers
298 views

How common is phonemic vowel length across languages?

Including different kinds of length distinctions, such as in stressed syllables only, or stressed and unstressed, etc.
4
votes
2answers
641 views

Is there a general tendency among East Asian languages toward simple syllable structure?

I've noticed that several languages of East Asia and the Pacific islands like Japanese, Chinese, and Hawaiian, have much stricter rules governing phonotactics than languages in other parts of the ...
8
votes
1answer
988 views

Morphology of proper names

I'm wondering if there are any general morphological properties of proper names. If a word is used as a name, it will be constrained by whatever syntactic constraints that language uses from proper ...
1
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0answers
104 views

On price tags/labels why some nouns are used singular/plural regardless of countability?

Is there any explanation regarding why some nouns are used in singular form while the others are used in plural form such as price tags in stores or menus in restaurants. I know that in languages ...