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

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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 ...
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1answer
58 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 ?
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1answer
54 views

recent topics in linguistics [closed]

what are the recent controversial issues in - pragmatics. -socio-linguistics. that are receiving the experts' attention ?
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2answers
94 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: ...
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0answers
39 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
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1answer
56 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 ...
3
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0answers
55 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
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2answers
48 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
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2answers
162 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.
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1answer
45 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
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1answer
192 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 ...
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0answers
22 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 ...
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0answers
45 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
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1answer
101 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
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1answer
123 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
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2answers
122 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
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1answer
119 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
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1answer
72 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 ...
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0answers
93 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.
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2answers
517 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 ...
7
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1answer
393 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 ...
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0answers
89 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 ...
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0answers
193 views

Animal sounds across languages

As onomatopoeia, the words used for animal sounds are often quite similar across many languages. However, there are non-trivial differences, even for something as common as the croak of a frog. I was ...
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0answers
80 views

Is there count/mass distinction in European Portuguese as it is in English?

It is said that European Portuguese has count/mass distinction as many Indo-European languages. However I noticed out that all products/items at stores in Portugal are labeled in singular form. In ...
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7answers
2k views

Important english word which doesn't exist in another language

I'm looking for an important English word which doesn't have a corresponding word in another language. I would be happy even it's a language spoken only by a small population. Preferably, the word is ...
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1answer
48 views

What are the different types of counting conjugations? [closed]

Different languages conjugate their nouns or verbs based on the number that they are referring to. For example, in languages such as English and French, there are two distinctions--singular and ...
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3answers
981 views

Which language has the biggest vocabulary?

I am thinking that it is English because it has so many borrowed words and most you French, Italian, or German words can be written in English as is. Am I right?
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5answers
417 views

Is there a way to prove one language is more efficient than another language for science?

English is widely regarded as the global language of science now. In China, we use simplified Chinese to write scientific textbooks, teach courses and do almost everything. Let's take the simplest ...
3
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1answer
183 views

How did 'cocodrilo' originate from 'crocodile'?

The English word crocodile seems to originate from the Latin crocodīlus and Ancient Greek κροκόδιλος. Indeed it has ended up very similar in several modern languages: German (Krokodile), Russian ...
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2answers
356 views

Affix that makes nouns into verbs and verbs into nouns?

I have a friend studying a language from the pacific islands, and she found an affix that when added to a noun makes a verb and when added to a verb makes a noun. What would you call such a thing, and ...
3
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1answer
110 views

A classical text about the Sun?

I've read once there is a text about the Sun, which is created to use words and concepts which shall be present in any human language, and which is translated nearly to all human languages for using ...
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5answers
3k views

Is learning German easier for people who know Sanskrit, and vice versa?

I've heard many times that learning German is easier for those who speak Sanskrit, and vice versa. Is there any linguistic basis for this? What similarities exist between the two languages that may be ...
5
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3answers
263 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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3answers
389 views

Does English language stand special in terms of phonology?

I am a native Russian speaker. When I am listening to songs and music in other languages, which I do not know, such as Italian, Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and even Japanese, Finnish, Kyrgyz and ...
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3answers
454 views

How are mathematical operators like “plus” and “cos” analyzed?

Consider the mathematical statement 1 + 2 = 3 It is read in English as One plus two equals three. One plus two is equal to three. In English at least, equals is obviously an ordinary ...
9
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2answers
504 views

Using the word “dream” as hope for the future across languages

Many languages seem to use the same word for "dream" (psychological phenomenon) and "dream" (hope for the future). Quick scanning on Wiktionary gives the list: Germanic languages: Danish (drøm), ...
4
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0answers
282 views

What is the most common vowel?

Of all the languages for which there is sufficient data, including extinct languages, which vocalic speech sound, or phone, as represented by the IPA, has been used by more languages, with more ...
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0answers
231 views

Exclamation for pain

I always thought that the response to pain, which people usually express with 'ouch' or 'ow' is a natural response which is the same for all languages. Although spelled differently the same and ...
4
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3answers
135 views

How distinctive must a phoneme be?

How much of a functional load must a phone carry to be considered its own phoneme? For example, my idiolect of English has a marginally distinctive glottal stop. However, it exists distinctively in ...
7
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2answers
450 views

Rules for glottal stop insertion across languages

Many languages lack phonemic glottal stops, but regularly insert them. For example: English invariably inserts glottal stops before utterance-initial vowels, and often before word-initial vowels when ...
7
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2answers
968 views

What languages are the most similar to English?

I speak English and Bengali with similar proficiency, at least in the 'lower' registers of the languages. Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, despite having ...
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1answer
130 views

How usual is it for languages to have multiple contrasting “neutral” vowels?

First of all, I used scare quotes on "neutral" because I can't think of a better word. I was going to say "central vowels" but that would cover some "a"-like vowels whereas I am only thinking of ...
9
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2answers
199 views

What is the historical basis for the use of this type of phrasal verb in English but less so in Spanish?

For example, English uses phrases like to look for and to look at, which (I believe) are considered phrasal verbs. Spanish, however, would under normal circumstances use some derivation of buscar and ...
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5answers
322 views

Are there any languages where the genitive case changes according to its object?

In forms like Claudio's house or Claudio's dogs, are there languages in which the Claudio's would change depending on gender and number of the houses or dogs?
10
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4answers
409 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 ...
8
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2answers
373 views

Are there languages with more than three degrees of comparison?

In English and other languages there are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative (e.g. tall, taller, tallest). Are there languages with more than three degrees, expressed ...
3
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0answers
470 views

What language has the longest word for 'no' and 'yes'?

I'm asking this because I'm learning Swahili now, for which the word 'yes' translates to 'ndiyo' and 'no' translates to 'hakuna.' It strikes me as strange that a language would have such long words ...
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0answers
185 views

Cross-linguistic association between velarization and pharyngealization

Articulatorily, velarization and pharyngealization are distinct, but they are often conflated in linguistic analyses I've seen: Conflating them is common enough, I presume, that the IPA allocates ...
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2answers
506 views

Do onomatopoeias resist sound change?

Regular sound changes can of course affect phonemes used in onomatopoeias. For example, consider a language containing /mjaw/, referring to the call of a cat. Suppose that final /w/ is sound-changed ...
10
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1answer
205 views

Are there studies of difficulty to learn particular language depending on learner's native language?

Do you know if any studies were made to classify the difficulty to learn a particular language depending on learner's native language? There are a lot of discussions about what is the easiest or the ...