Groupings of languages which can all be traced back to a common ancestor language they evolved from, for instance the Romance languages are all descended from Latin.

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135 views

Would it be possible to discover through linguistics if any non-human languages influenced known language families?

Suppose some recent hominins such as Neanderthal had a spoken language (currently, as far as I'm aware, we are uncertain if they did, but suppose we knew they did). If this were the case, would it be ...
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1answer
96 views

How much Lithuanian and Romanian languages are mutually intelligible?

I have heard that Lithuanian and Romanian are related. As such, I want to know, to what extent they are mutually intelligible.
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2answers
127 views

How old is Hixkaryana?

Hixkaryana is a Carib language, spoken by some 500 people, in the states Amazonas and Pará in Brazil. I am interested in the history of this language, but very little is known. Can someone help me to ...
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2answers
120 views

Why do we use “someone” to signify one person?

I can't come up with a better title so let me just say that I'm sorry for misleading you if this question isn't even close to what you expected. First of all my observation: In the three languages ...
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2answers
101 views

Non-tonal “isolates” within families of tonal languages

I've put "isolates" in scare quotes because this is probably not a standard meaning for the term "language isolate". But anyway I'm sure it's still abvious what I'm looking for. I was wondering about ...
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0answers
85 views

Is the usage of sarcasm or irony dependent on the language and its structure?

Sarcasm and irony are a form of humor used by a lot of languages. Are they aided by certain features or structure of the language? Are they dependent on the presence of certain structures within a ...
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1answer
334 views

Is there a named common ancestor of Germanic and Latin besides “Indo-European”?

I was just answering a question about the origins of English and Latin and wanted to talk about their common ancestors but ran into a surprising problem. So we know the majority of languages in ...
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1answer
368 views

Are all languages related? [duplicate]

I originally posted this question on the Philosophy.stackexchange site This question was prompted by this newspaper article saying: Languages spoken by billions of people across Europe and Asia are ...
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0answers
151 views

What is the current understanding of the classification of indigenous American languages?

Inspired by this recent question on Greenberg's classification of African languages, I wonder about the current state of classification of the American languages. (By "American" I mean the indigenous ...
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1answer
488 views

What is the current understanding of Greenberg's classification of African languages?

In a reply to the criticism of his classification of the languages of the Americas, Greenberg (1989: 107) characterized his work on African languages as follows: [...] my classification is clearly ...
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5answers
548 views

Plural “you” in different language families connoting respect

I recently found out that French has two different words for "you." From here: Tu is the familiar "you," which demonstrates a certain closeness and informality. ... Vous is the formal "you." It ...
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1answer
552 views

How can mutual intelligibility be measured?

What ways do we have of measure the mutual intelligibility of two given languages? It's easy enough to realise if there is a degree of mutual intelligibility between your own language variety and ...
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1answer
643 views

Relationship between language similarity and ease of foreign language acquisition?

Inspired by this infographic, which lists a bunch of languages as either easy to learn, hard to learn, or medium. I noticed that all the languages in the easy category were either Romance or Germanic ...
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4answers
233 views

Why do some languages have more speakers than others?

I am interested in languages that are used as first languages. Does it have to do simply with population growth/sustenance of the speakers of those languages? What are the theories put forward to ...
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2answers
202 views

Aramaic compared to Spanish

Is it possible to compare Aramaic to Spanish? If so, what are the differences and what are common? I have Spanish at school, and when I saw Passion of the Christ, I recognized lots of words (I don't ...
3
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1answer
451 views

Is the word, “problem,” new to non-English languages?

I've been listening to radio broadcasts lately where a person will be speaking German or Pashtun or Russian or whatever and a translator will be supplying an English rendition, in a format which makes ...
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4answers
468 views

Do linguists measure the relation distance between languages? How?

Sometimes, I read passages like: Languages X, Y and Z in region A are closely related to each other, comparable to French, Italian and Spanish in Western Europe. The discussion in the question ...
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2answers
223 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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4answers
1k views

Do the Khoisan languages resemble the world's first language?

I have read somewhere that if there ever was a world's first language*, that language must have had very much in common** with the Khoisan languages. Arguments in support of this hypothesis are: ...
5
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1answer
318 views

Is there a general consensus on what modern language is the closest relative of Albanian?

I'm off to Albania tomorrow so starting to get more and more interested in the language. It's one of the outliers on the Indo-European family tree. It's not hard to see a relationship but it's not ...
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4answers
1k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to “person”?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
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2answers
320 views

Are there other pairs of languages that are as close grammatically despite not being in the same language family as Korean and Japanese?

Though there are many theories grouping Korean and Japanese in the same family, none of these are widely accepted by linguists. Yet the grammars of these two languages are extremely similar in many ...
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5answers
2k views

How did Korean become a language isolate?

According to most linguists, Korean is a language isolate. Why doesn't it have any sister languages, like languages usually do? Why didn't it spread to other areas, or split into various languages? ...
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2answers
512 views

Distinguishing dialects objectively: lexical sets in non-English settings

The concept of lexical set is a useful technique for differentiating accents or dialects within a language. A lexical set is a set of all words/syllables that are pronounced with the same vowel. These ...
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4answers
2k views

Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

According to this Wikipedia page Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). ...