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

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1answer
38 views

How did the word “combine” come to refer to any number of items?

This is the etymology of the word "combine": link As you can see it all boils down to just two word-forming elements: "com-" and "bis-". So the word "combine" carries in itself information about only ...
6
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0answers
49 views

When did the concept of constituent movement arise?

As far back as the mid 1700s, William Ward considered the following phrase in An Essay on Grammar applied to the English Language. the flowers which a lady sitting on the seat in a garden views with ...
2
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1answer
59 views

When were empty constituents introduced into linguistics?

Sag and Fodor (1995) claim that "Bresnan's [1971] proposal was made prior to the introduction of empty constituents into syntactic theory." So when were empty constituents introduced? Sag, Ivan A &...
2
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2answers
64 views

Different meanings of going

The word going can have different meanings. Two of them are as a synonym for walking, e.g. "I'm going to the mall", and in the idiom "how's it going" as a synonym for "How are you?". I've noticed that ...
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2answers
186 views

Who was the first to call noun classes “genders”?

I'm not asking about the origin of grammatical gender. I am asking where is the earliest example of the term "gender" used to describe classes of nouns. I'm wondering who first decided to name ...
2
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1answer
54 views

What is the origin of declension/conjugation classes?

Languages with declension and conjugation usually have multiple declension and conjugation classes. If one were to invent a language with declension or conjugation, one would probably introduce only ...
1
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1answer
74 views

What is the cause of difference between British and American pronunciation?

I think it's pretty clear how did evolve such differences as high way or parking lot, since these terms refer to the technology that didn't exist at the age of colonization. But how, in general, do ...
7
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1answer
114 views

Can Old Church Slavonic be considered an artificial language?

How much was Old Church Slavonic edited by Constantine and Methodius? And what modified more: The Old Church Slavonic when people in Bohemia started to write with it, or the slavic dialect they used ...
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1answer
97 views

How do they know how to translate Old English?

For instance, we know how to translate the hieroglyphics because of the Rosetta Stone. I'm aware that Old English is far more similar to known languages than the hieroglyphics, but looking at the ...
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0answers
61 views

Old Norse name for Balts (Baltic people)?

Is there a word in Old Norse vocabulary for Balts (Baltic people)? How about regions of nowadays Latvia, particularly for Courland?
3
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0answers
42 views

The oldest known examples of written Latvian

For my research, i am looking for the oldest known examples of written Latvian. According to Wikipedia it's the translation of a Latvian hymn made by Nikolaus Ramm (1530) with no more info provided, ...
2
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1answer
89 views

Origin of words [closed]

I'd like to know how words originated. I'm not talking about etymology. For example, an etymology web site says the word "love" came from PIE(Proto-Indo-European) "leubh". Then how "leubh" originated? ...
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2answers
81 views

Have there ever been (serious) attempts to replace alphabets with phonetic alphabets?

Although many languages share the same alphabets, the pronunciation varies greatly. The letters and words alone do not convey sufficient information. Phonetic alphabets, on the other hand, are ...
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0answers
38 views

Has the ‘chereme’ fallen out of vogue as an emic unit?

Background My 'ex' was a Gallaudet student (in Interpreting; he was hearing, not Deaf). I gathered a basic survey understanding of the linguistics (well, TBH, the politics) of sign-languages. I ...
3
votes
2answers
103 views

What's the reason behind the “silent n”?

My impression is that the concept of a silent "n" is quite common in many different languages/linguistic families . What is the reason that the "silent n" is so common in language as opposed to other ...
2
votes
1answer
198 views

Why is the letter “Q” visually simillar to “O”?

G was created out of C by adding an additional line, for an obvious reason as they represented similar sounds in Latin. But why is Q pretty much O with an additional line? These two letter do not ...
6
votes
2answers
328 views

How did it happen that K was introduced to Latin alphabet in place of C and C started to mark /t͡s/ or /s/ in many languages?

I know that K has been derived from Greek kappa and C from gamma. But how did it happen that people started to use K in place of C? From what I know there were already C and G in the Latin alphabet ...
1
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1answer
65 views

Which famous linguists embrace historical logic to understand language?

[Source:] As other commenters have noted, looking for logic in language is almost always futile. No natural language is logical. But there is a historical logic to language development; even if the ...
0
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0answers
69 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
94 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
67 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 ...
1
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2answers
69 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
86 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, ...
1
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1answer
37 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 ...
0
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1answer
136 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
144 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?
0
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1answer
49 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, ...
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6answers
1k 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
votes
2answers
371 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
208 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 ...
0
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2answers
303 views

What is the least changed language in use today?

I wonder that, among the oldest languages spoken today, which one is the best preserved resembling its oldest known form in terms of grammar and vocabulary. I know that we are limited in our knowledge ...
5
votes
3answers
284 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
136 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
468 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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votes
1answer
648 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
208 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 ...
23
votes
13answers
21k 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
votes
1answer
242 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
253 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
votes
3answers
146 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
votes
1answer
254 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
123 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
669 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
88 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
84 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
votes
1answer
234 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
309 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
95 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
313 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
votes
1answer
427 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) : ...