The study of structural features, diversity and commonalities of the world's languages.

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113 views

A list of parts of speech

I want to know if there are other parts of speech -other than particles- in other languages than English or other Romance/Germanic languages.
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11 views

Category of nominal affixes relating to size

While there are plenty of languages that have augmentive and diminutive affix, are there languages with something in between? big-AUG 'very big' big-MED 'rather big, a little big' small-DIM 'tiny ...
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22 views

Term for words or phrases signifying change in numeric quantities?

Phrase like "take away", "more than" ,"times" imply certain mathematical change (subtract,add,divide etc.) in the quantity in current context. For eg. The number of girls "exceeds" the number of boys ...
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53 views

Language with without a lexical entry for “before”

Has anyone encountered a language in which there is no lexical entry corresponding to English "before" and the relation of temporal precedence is manifested by something equivalent to "earlier than"? ...
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50 views

Distinguishing “Eskimo”/“Inuit” languages by the passive agent morpheme

In The Origin of Agent Markers by Enrique L. Palancar an attempt has been made to list morphemes used both 1.) as a case morpheme belonging to a noun and 2.) as a morpheme on such nouns that express ...
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43 views

Are there languages in which AND + OR (conjunction and disjunction) are expressed the same?

I'm looking at coordination strategies in the languages of the world and I wonder if all languages have a distinction between conjunction and disjunction.
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1answer
77 views

Does “adding a sixth” mean adding a fifth?

I seem to recall hearing that French francophones say the French equivalent of "in three days" where anglophones say "in two days". (I don't speak French, and can't vouch for it.) That, coupled with a ...
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48 views

What approaches exist to categorizing kinds of passive agent markers and what are their advantages?

For my thesis I would like to conduct a study on the cross-linguistic distribution of agent markers in passives. In English, this marker is usually realized by the preposition 'by', as in (including ...
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29 views

Is there a database that has information on the typological variation of honorific systems?

For a class project, I need a typology of the grammatical honorific systems of the world's languages. Specifically, I need to categorize languages into whether they have honorifics for second or third ...
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5answers
132 views

Is the concept of a verb-subject complete sentence a cultural/linguistic invariant?

In english, a 'complete sentence' seems to refer to having at least a single, complete clause — i.e. a subject (noun) and verb — e.g. "I run". This seems to be engrained in the concept of a complete ...
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3answers
74 views

Defining Linguistics

Studying Japanese, I finally broke the mindset of trying to turn Japanese phrases into English phrases. Doing this has made the study of Japanese much easier for me. Then I got to thinking, usually I ...
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2answers
97 views

How do caseless ergative languages work?

It is well-known that some ergative languages lack morphological case. If there is no case, where does their ergativity show up?
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102 views

relative complexity of languages

Often, when talking casually about languages, people will say that one language is harder to learn than another. I always thought that this was a common misconception, and that other than the ...
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4answers
143 views

What sub-field in linguistics should I study to help me learn foreign languages? [closed]

I'm interested in languages and linguistics, can speak a few languages (English, French, Mandarin, some German, Japanese, and Esperanto) and would like to eventually learn more (Japanese, Spanish, ...
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2answers
113 views

Is there a good introduction to subjectivity in language?

Since the topic of "subjectivity in language" is all new to me, I am looking for an introduction to the topic that 1) gives an overview of the phenomena usually associated with the topic ...
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2answers
571 views

English verbs - how many types/classifications?

I've been looking at English to help my teen out, readying for college. Didn't realise how little I knew. In this specific case, I'm stuck with the large number of types of verb - finite/infinite, ...
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1answer
210 views

Does subject precede object in all natural languages?

From here : English and Chinese, for example, put the subject first, the verb in the middle, and the object at the end for an SVO word order. Irish and Biblical Hebrew are VSO languages that ...
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2answers
93 views

Is this nominal suffix more inflectional or derivational?

So, I'm working on this conlang as part of my work and the deliverable is a simple grammar. To facilitate reference, I've divided up the suffixes between inflectional and derivational forms. But of ...
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3answers
180 views

Pro-Drop Typology in Indo-European Languages

A different question made me wonder what is the norm for Indo-European with regard to pro-drop? I know Italic languages generally do it, while Germanic languages generally don't. What about the rest ...
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1answer
105 views

Evidentiality: Aspect or Modality?

I was curious about evidentiality. In Turkish, evidentiality can be seen as {-mIş} suffix, but English does not have any suffix to express. Take a look at this sentence: Babası ona yeni ayakkabı ...
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150 views

Which languages use possessive adjectives as their primary way of expressing possession?

By "possessive adjective" here I mean a fully productive form which is derived from a noun, inflected like an adjective (including agreeing with its head noun in whatever categories other adjectives ...
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1answer
171 views

What is known or believed about the origin of Semitic-type root-and-template morphology?

How does nonconcatenative morphology of the Semitic type (consonantal roots, vocalic templates + affixes) arise diachronically? It's pretty easy to see how a nonconcatenative inflectional system ...
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0answers
57 views

Is there a way to distinguish habitualis from generic interpretation?

I'm looking for a way to classify a given sentence as either habitualis or generic in a language where neither is a grammatical category. Thus, it should be a some semantic feature of the sentence. ...
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1answer
88 views

Alternatives to the Perfect Aspect

In English and (at least a portion of) other Indo-European languages the perfect aspect's foremost role is that of a discourse marker, marking prior events (or events beginning in the past and ...
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124 views

Across languages that have adjectives, what are the most common grammatical inflections for adjectives?

Not all languages have adjectives; some use adjectival nouns ("red.one" instead of "red") and/or stative verbs ("be.red" instead of "red"). Among languages that have adjectives, not all allow ...
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1answer
135 views

Root reduplication to mean singular

In different languages reduplication of the root serves as a means to express plurality (Malay 'orang' - 'a person', 'orang-orang' - 'people') or a greater degree (Russian 'много' - 'many, much', ...
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1answer
593 views

Is Thai a stress- or syllable-timed language, and does it matter?

We are gearing up for the new semester at the Thai university where I teach English. One course I’ll be helping out with is on English pronunciation. In the unit on sentence stress, the course ...
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1answer
179 views

Languages with subordinate imperatives?

English does not allow an imperative to be used in a subordinate clause: Eat that pizza! *There's a pizza on the table, which eat! (="which I order you to eat") *I told you eat that pizza! (A ...
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2answers
143 views

The “affectee-subject HAVE” construction in English

English has a somewhat unusual construction exemplified by sentences like the following: He had his car stolen. He had his house repossessed. He's had three books published. These are different ...
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1answer
262 views

Classification of Relative Clauses in English

While reading the wikipedia article on relative clauses, I was puzzled somewhat by a description of a relative clause in English. It asserts that in the relative clause "that I saw yesterday", as in ...
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2answers
150 views

Are ditransitives (or tritransitives?) cross-linguistically attested?

I'm only really familiar with English and a few European languages, so to my mind it is normal for a language to have a double object construction and/or an NP-PP construction, as in John gave ...
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1answer
150 views

Constituent Order and Alignment

Seeing What might "S/A-V-O" and "A/S-V-O" mean? reminded me of something I've wondered at various points in the past. I'm familiar with the different clause constituent orders ...
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1answer
134 views

What might “S/A-V-O” and “A/S-V-O” mean?

In looking through Google Books's preview of A Grammar of Lao by N. J. Enfield, I came across these two terms, which I'm assuming are equivalent to one another (possibly one is even a typo) and some ...
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116 views

Help with BA dissertation topic related to ergativity and/or valency

I'm looking to write my undergraduate dissertation (10,000 words) within the topics of ergativity and/or valency but currently stuck for ideas. My first idea was to take a sample from around 20 - 30 ...
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1answer
108 views

Singular versus plural in certain locutions: Is there a name for this?

I wouldn't touch that idea with a ten-foot pole. He's a tool maker. In Germany, Catholics and Lutherans pay a church tax. The zebra stripes indicate a pedestrian crossing. He is a resident of an ...
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3answers
190 views

In what ways does English syntax compensate for its low number of inflectional morphemes?

Two native German speakers have each told me that conversational English is easy to learn because its number of case-endings, agreement morphemes, and other grammatical morphemes is small. However, ...
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1answer
283 views

Linguistics, a discipline or a field?

This is a two-fold level questions. Question about linguistics from the view point of linguistics. I am interested whether linguistics is a field of science/research or is it a discipline? The next ...
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2answers
200 views

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages?

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages? From what I’ve read, word order in isolating languages can be changed even when the constituents in the ...
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2answers
103 views

How many moras in [steak]? I produced two moras.

I drew the syllable structure for steak, and I deduced that 'st' is one cluster and forms part of the onset instead of the rhyme. So that leaves the rhyme with eI and k which will give me two moras. ...
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183 views

Why the english past tense -ed pronounced differently in some words?

Why is the suffix for [looked] and [hugged] pronounced differently. How can I explain this process via Feature Geometry? [EDIT] I know the following words respectively sound as follows lʊkt and ...
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2answers
254 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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96 views

Languages with vowel-based “radicals” inflected or derived by changing consonants?

Semitic languages are known for doing quite a bit of their inflection and derivation not via adfixes but via modifications around a triliteral radical of three consonants. But I'm wondering if ...
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95 views

Which prefixing language has the most speakers?

Most if not all national or widely spoken languages with an inflecting or agglutinating typology do all of their inflecting at the end of the word. These are called "suffixing languages". This is ...
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231 views

Are there any specific traits in Italian which make it different from other Romance languages?

Although Wikipedia says 'the grammar is typical of the grammar of Romance languages', I suppose some ancient Italic (or perhaps even pre-italic) traits might prevail. I am especially curious about ...
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49 views

Is there a correspondence between contextual semantics and the type of language?

Most of the isolating languages I am familiar with have context-bound semantics either in division into parts of speech (e.g. Chinese) or word meaning (Yoruba), or both (Chinese, again). E.g., in ...
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1answer
191 views

Constituents of language

Suppose we take the view that language is a tool for communication. What would be the basic, or essential, constituents of a language? Some examples that come to mind: a set of words a set ...
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57 views

Are languages of different types described by different structures in language trees?

This thought occured to me after having a closed question read here. I drew five language trees for a same sentence rendered in five different languages, and the result was quite interesting. ...
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1answer
191 views

Are there any languages with verbs that require more than three arguments?

Are there any languages some of whose verbs require more than three arguments? I was thinking of causative constructions, such that "Mike had John give Sally the ring" could be expressed with one ...
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74 views

Is there any universal semantic coding for noun cases similar to verb aspectology?

I am aware of the argument/actant theories, but perhaps there is something like universal semantical coding for the nouns as well. For Argument concepts,you can see the relevant Wikipedia page for ...
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1answer
112 views

How do we know how many languages exist?

I've read that between 3000 and 6000 languages are spoken on Earth. My question is the following: how do people calculate that number?