Development of languages, language families, etc, through time with influences by other languages or pre-existing ones.

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Is there a trend toward more homophones over time? What can counteract that trend?

It is my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) that many homophones develop as a result of phonemic mergers. For instance, I, like many Americans, have a "cot-caught" merger where I do not make a ...
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0answers
28 views

Are Biological and Linguistic Evolution Similar? [duplicate]

Natural selection, based on Darwin's theories, states that organisms with characteristics that benefit survival survive while the weaker, less adapted individuals are weeded out. Languages also ...
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4answers
121 views

Examples of Borrowing Languages

In the Wikipedia page History of the English language it is mentioned that English is a "borrowing language", with the implication that there are many loan words in English. What other languages may ...
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1answer
78 views

Was there an evolution of the greek alphabet in the middle-east?

I recently visited Jordan and noticed that many mosaic are commented with included text. The text seems mostly ancien greek alphabet, but it also contains non greek characters such as C, obviously ...
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4answers
297 views

Did a “cave man-style” language ever exist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether a "cave man-style" language was likely to have ever existed. You know, the stereotypical "Fire bad! Need hunt, go tree-place now!" sort of ...
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2answers
84 views

What parts of speech do professional jargons tend to mint?

Many English-based jargons include newly created nouns, verbs and adjectives; and re-appropriate existing English nouns, verbs, and adjectives to new ends. I can't come up with an example of a newly ...
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2answers
155 views

What is the origin of 't-' and 's-' words for second and third person possesive adjectives?

Many languages associate the t sound with the second person and the s with the third. For example Spanish (tu/tuyo, su/suyo), French (tu,ton/ta/tes,son/sa/ses), Italian (tu,tuo/tua/tuoi,suo/sua/suoi) ...
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5answers
343 views

Does language improve over time, or does it just change?

Obviously none of the languages that existed 5000 years ago are still in use today. Rather, we use their descendants. Over time, the lexicon and grammar change and transform, subtly, so that the ...
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2answers
113 views

Is the evolution & development of language better described by Deleuze concept of the rhizome than the traditional tree?

I originally asked this question on philosophy.stackexchange, but the consensus was that this was better asked here Deleuze & Guattari introduce the idea of the rhizome in their text A thousand ...
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0answers
64 views

Influence of the regulatory bodies in the English language

Where could I find/read about studies about the influence in English of the lack of regulatory bodies of its use and lexicon? It is easy to google and find long arguments on the topic. I am ...
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2answers
83 views

Do languages evolve via community usage or via influential individuals?

In the modern world, it's clear that some very influential people have a small effect on the evolution of a language by popularizing certain linguistic constructions as slang, which eventually evolve ...
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1answer
223 views

Impact of widespread literacy and global communication on language evolution

We live in a world that is incredibly different to the one that was here 200 years ago. Literacy, in the developed world at least, is no longer an elite privilege, but rather almost taken for granted. ...
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3answers
390 views

Should emoticons be considered punctuation?

Folowing on from my previous question Are "txt-speak" and "emoticons" examples of normal language evolution? I would like to propose that emoticons are simply now symbols of punctuation, rather than ...
8
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1answer
204 views

Is usage of 'SMS language' or 'textspeak' changing in any direction?

'SMS language' or 'textspeak' was popularised due in the 90s due to the use of phones with numeric keypads. However, most smartphones these days come with autocorrect / autocomplete which outputs ...
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2answers
139 views

Evolutionary advantage of descriptive statements

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask, but I may as well try. The evolutionary benefit of warnings, all-clear signals, communication on where to find food and so on is quite clear. But what ...
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2answers
486 views

Are “txt-speak” and “emoticons” examples of normal language evolution?

"txt-speak" appeared because of the need to fit a communication into 160 characters. "Emoticons" appeared due to the need to convey an emotional context with your message so that it is read correctly ...
6
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1answer
178 views

Why do languages retain or re-create complexity?

It seems to me (but I may be wrong), that languages tend to evolve towards simplification. Some examples I can think of: loss of declinations in Romance languages or in English, loss of 2nd person ...
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2answers
503 views

Do atonal languages have a tonal ancestor?

One of the distinctions among languages is the tonal/atonal distinction. Dediu & Ladd (2007) suggest that this split between tonal and atonal languages is related to a recent mutation in the ASPM ...
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3answers
746 views

Are there any “simple” languages?

In all the languages I know, at least one of the following aspects is complex/difficult: Alphabet: Complex meaning a large alphabet like in Chinese. Pronunciation: Complex meaning that, for example, ...
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2answers
525 views

Why do marked terms exist at all?

According to the definition of markedness, unmarked terms can be consider the "norm". So if there is something more "normal" about using unmarked terms, why would a language have marked terms at all? ...
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2answers
137 views

When some people spoke proto-XX, what did other people speak?

Tracing back in time through the language hierarchy, I imagine that geographical areas where ancestors of existing "alive" languages were spoken will narrow in, leaving lots of gaps (Since for ...
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1answer
179 views

How do linguists tell areal features and genetic relations apart?

Languages belonging to the same family obviously share many features, most of which were inherited from their common ancestor. But, considering that languages of the same family also are usually ...
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1answer
431 views

Did Hebrew writing evolve from Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I read somewhere that the Hebrew writing system evolved from Egyptian pictographs. If that's the case, have anyone read about records that trace exact evolution from a pictograph to a Hebrew letter, ...
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4answers
713 views

Why do Polish and Belarusian have an atypical greeting if compared to other Slavic languages?

While chatting with a polish penpal, I've discovered that in Polish the expression for "good morning/good day/hello/good afternoon" varies if compared to the other Slavic languages; later I saw that ...
4
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1answer
300 views

Vanishing phonemes, nasalization of vowels, tones

Looking at modern French in light of vulgar Latin, or Chinese compared with Proto-Sino-Tibetan (if that can even be reconstructed), there seems to be quite a few contexts in which phonemes are ...
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226 views

Is there any case of a “convergent language family”?

As far as I know, language families originate from a process of divergent, tree-like evolution. All the languages within a family or subfamily can be traced back to the same proto-language, which was ...
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15k views

Weird behavior of two fruits' names (ananas/pineapple, banana/plátano)

Some time ago I found two tables that reported the names for two fruits, which were supposed to be funny, because they specifically reported a single exception among those several languages, where ...
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2answers
318 views

How do computational linguists abstractly represent a language?

When building models of the evolution of languages or similar phenomena where many different languages are involved and change over time, how do computational linguists abstractly model a language? ...
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1answer
145 views

Are there creoles of three languages?

Are there examples of creole languages that have had three or more other languages as parents without intermediate two-language creoles? If they exist, then how high is the 'or more', i.e. what is the ...
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5answers
298 views

What evolution framework best describes the change between languages over time?

Language change and the evolution of languages can be seen as an evolutionary process. Human brains form the environment that constrains language. Language acquisition provides the replication, ...
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514 views

Examples of convergent evolution?

As an English-speaking student of Yiddish, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the indefinite article was an before vowels and a before consonants, just like in English. But as far as I can ...