The study of past events. Use this tag if your linguistic question is also related to history.

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42 views

What philologists influenced Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblance?

Wittgenstein coined the term "family resemblance" for collections with multiple overlapping similarities as opposed to universally shared traits. Wikipedia mentions that "It has been suggested that ...
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2answers
76 views

Recent book on PIE and older proto-languages?

Please recommend a recent book that summarizes and critiques the current state of knowledge and speculation on PIE and older proto-languages. (book, please, I will have no electronic contact with the ...
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2answers
56 views

Oldest words for the seasons for which we have a confirmed pronunciation?

I'm aware that this is possibly very difficult to answer. What are the oldest known words for the seasons (as major, multi-month divisions of the year) for which we have reasonable scholarly assurance ...
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2answers
44 views

How was the acoustic theory of speech production informed by electrical circuit theory?

The acoustic theory of speech production as worked out by Gunnar Fant depends on a correspondence between the vocal tract and elementary electrical circuits. But the quote below perplexes me. In what ...
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1answer
63 views

In what way did the invention of the telephone shape the development of phonetic theory?

According to my rudimentary understanding of electronics, the telephone transforms sounds to an electric medium transmitted to a receiver over wires. You don't really need phonetics to make that work, ...
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1answer
30 views

How was phonetics performed with a phonograph?

How was phonetics performed with a phonograph? From the Wikipedia excerpt below, I guess it went something like this: A segment was recorded on a phonograph. That segment was Filtered each time with ...
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1answer
118 views

New Etymological Knowledge

If a scholar or layperson wanted to submit a discovery of the origin of some obscure word or phrase not previously known, what would be the criteria they should follow acceptable to the academic ...
1
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1answer
104 views

How many of English words have Germanic roots, and how many have Romantic roots? (in percent)

So, I'm wondering how much of English words have Germanic roots, how many have Romantic roots and how many have Greek roots etc. In percent. Is there any such table?
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1answer
46 views

History of languages from a geographical perspective

Unfortunately I am totally unaware of the research and most of the basic methodology of Linguistics, but I am really keen on knowing more about languages because I am a passionate learner of new ones, ...
3
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6answers
268 views

Which comes first? Grammar or language?

I always have the impression grammar is just a tool to help studying and learning a language, i.e. it is a scientific tool invented for a language after the language has existed. But to think of it ...
3
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2answers
186 views

What is the history of the International Phonetic Alphabet?

I know it has its origins in the International Phonetic Association, but the idea of a unique alphabet for each speech sound of the world's languages organized by place and manner must've had an ...
4
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0answers
143 views

Why did English change so rapidly between the late 1600s and the early 1700s?

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and am slowly getting used to the text-—English is my second language. I then wondered with what ease would I be able to understand the ...
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0answers
61 views

Who introduced the concept of phrases in grammar?

My impression is that this term is used in prescriptive works teaching grammars as well as in scientific context dealing with syntax. How can one trace the emergence of this concept back in ...
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3answers
247 views

What is the most recent example of a language which has split from another and become non-mutually comprehensible?

I know linguists like to say "no languages are older or younger than other languages" because they all evolved from ancient roots. With exceptions such as Nicaraguan Sign Language. So let me explain ...
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0answers
124 views

Translation of “Beowulf”

In the brief span of time I have studied this ancient poem, particularly verses 1829-30, I have read several translations. While observing each individual rendering of the text, it was evident to me ...
2
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2answers
449 views

What is this language? Is it an ancient language?

I have recently procured an artefact, which was excavated in Yemen. At the bottom of the artefact there is engraving as shown in the picture. Some of the letters (on two sides) look like Egyptian ...
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1answer
164 views

Why is October the tenth month even though Octo means eight?

And it's not only that! Novem is Latin for nine, and Decem is ten, and yet the months are eleventh and twelfth respectively. What's the origin of that? Why are the months called the way the are ...
0
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1answer
182 views

Why some languages have developed so difficult compared to others?

Finnish is one of the most difficult language in the world. Swedish is one of the most easiest language in the world. Finland and Sweden are geographically located next to each other. What is the ...
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11answers
11k views

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

I am not a linguist. I do not know German nor French. The majority of English vocabulary is derived from Romance languages. Given these facts, I ask for a simple and convincing demonstration (using an ...
5
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1answer
181 views

why did the Franco-Provençal language decline in Switzerland?

In France, the Franco-Provençal language is endangered. The general dialect leveling in France proper is sometimes thought to be a consequence of public policy, the French government having been known ...
5
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2answers
138 views

Are there systematic studies on HOW language features/characteristics are formed?

(I don't know whether this is a genuine "linguistics" problem as of how "linguistics" is defined, but it has bothered my curiosity for so long I have to ask it somewhere.) When we scientifically ...
3
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3answers
130 views

Origin of Alphabetic/Phonemic Scripts

Dixon (the Australianist) has claimed that the Phoenician/Canaanite script is the ultimate source of all known alphabetic (purely essentially-phonemic) scripts on Earth; all other scripts are not ...
7
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1answer
173 views

How old is linguistics as a discipline?

I hear a lot of people talk about how "new" linguistics is, or how "small" it is compared to other fields. Pāṇini studied grammar in the 4th century BC. Surely it didn't take until recent history to ...
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1answer
99 views

What was the most usual and most recent system of writing Korean without any hangul at all?

It's proving quite difficult to learn some of the facts about written Korean before hangul was given official status by the government. We know that metal movable type printing was inventing in ...
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2answers
403 views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
1
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1answer
85 views

Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two weeks?

One language dies every two weeks. But where does that statistic come from? Everyone is saying it without explicit citation. Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two ...
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0answers
78 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
3
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1answer
207 views

How did a logographic orthography like Chinese organize its word-stock before any type of phonetic notation?

Let's say you were to to pick up a dictionary and look up a word in Chinese before the advent of any type of phonetic notation system such as Pinyin or Bopomofo. How would words in that dictionary be ...
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1answer
232 views

schools of linguistics Greeks and Romans [closed]

Which arguments can prove that the Greeks and Romans did not practice linguistics in its modern meaning ?
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0answers
87 views

Weird bump in lower-case country names on Google Ngram

I was entering random names in Google Ngram when I noticed that in the late 80s to early 90s, there is a bump in the occurrence of lower-case European country names. See for example: united kingdom: ...
3
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2answers
236 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) ...
3
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1answer
283 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) : ...
4
votes
2answers
375 views

Why is Ivrit not considered an artificial language?

Why is Ivrit, the modern version of Hebrew, not considered an artificial language like for example Interlingua? From the history it looks like the language was dead except in clerical circles and ...
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2answers
239 views

Caucasoid people, Common Genetic roots and Common Proto-Language? [closed]

It is so probable that all Caucasoid people have had a common ancestor. Does The fact that most of Caucasoid people speak a Semitic or Indo-European language not suggest that there has been an ...
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1answer
331 views

Is it accurate - Chinese Wikipedia on Japanese/Korean classification

I'm not very updated on random theories regarding the Altaic theory (which I personally am agnostic about; though I slant towards not believing in it due to the extreme lack of any regular sound ...
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2answers
87 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 ...
2
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2answers
326 views

Is the word “abjad” borrowed from Arabic or was it coined in English then borrowed by Arabic?

"Abjad" is a technical term for a kind of writing system which is used when contrasting them with other writing system types such as alphabets, abugidas, and syllabaries. There is also an Arabic word ...
2
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1answer
68 views

How much evidence of written language is needed to accurately define English in a particular period of history?

In older variations of English in history, how much evidence of written language samples is needed to accurately define the grammar and usage of that period? For example, if we want to define how ...
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2answers
1k views

Why did English borrow more from Latin and Greek than, e.g., German did, in scientific and philosophical subjects?

Is there any known reason why the scholars of the time didn't think it easier to use calques, as for instance the Germans did for the names of some of the basic chemical elements?
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2answers
257 views

How much time does it take to create/fork a new language?

I wonder if there exists any summary or paper analysing the time it takes for the creation of a new language (with all reservations concerning definitions of languages et dialects etc.)? Take, for ...
9
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2answers
287 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
144 views

References about the history of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian after the break-up of Yugoslavia

What is considered the best reference (papers/articles/books) that discusses the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language and outlines its history after the break-up of former Yugoslavia in the early 90s?
5
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2answers
416 views

Why did generative linguists abandon the notion of kernel sentences?

I've had a hard time finding answers to this question on Ixquick. When I was young, transformational grammarians believed that sentences were derived from "kernel sentences," which were ...
4
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3answers
2k views

English words which are both verbs and adjectives

A question about UI design led me to speculate about English words which are both a verb and an adjective. My answer to the question addresses this linguistics issue as the root of the UI issue. I ...
4
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0answers
195 views

Where did Peirce publish his triadic model of signs?

A triadic model of signs can be found by various researchers. Probably the most famous illustration is the diagram in Ogden and Richards's The Meaning of Meaning (page 11, digitized here). It is also ...
9
votes
3answers
697 views

What are the Proto-Germanic words for sea, lake and a couple of others?

In Dutch "zee" means "sea" and "meer" means "lake", but in German "das Meer" means "sea" and "der See" means "lake". Similarly, verbs like to want, to need, to have, to desire, etc. are all mixed up. ...
15
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2answers
455 views

Why is it that Latin was more “successful” in the western part of the Empire than in the eastern part?

The Roman empire ruled over the lands around the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, and I imagine imposed its language on its subjects. But why is it that the western part of the empire (France, ...
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5answers
517 views

Outside of Modern Hebrew, do any previously dead languages have native speakers again?

What previously dead (i.e. no more native speakers) or remnant (i.e. not very well or hardly documented) languages have been revived to the point that there are native speakers? Accounts of revival ...
3
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1answer
179 views

Where did the semantic categories of C. D. Buck's dictionary of synonyms come from?

The 22 categories of words used in Carl Darling Buck's "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages" (1949) are quite different from for instance the categories in ...
4
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2answers
371 views

What are the rationale of people speaking/teaching Esperanto? [closed]

According to Wikipedia, Esperanto's goal was: to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different ...