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

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3
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2answers
155 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, ...
2
votes
1answer
140 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
40 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 ...
1
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3answers
106 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
60 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 ...
4
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3answers
131 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 ...
3
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0answers
81 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 ...
2
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0answers
42 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
68 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 ...
1
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0answers
112 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
104 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', ...
4
votes
1answer
294 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
127 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
122 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 ...
1
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1answer
188 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
140 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 ...
7
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0answers
94 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
100 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 ...
0
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0answers
100 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
97 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
171 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, ...
1
vote
1answer
176 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
146 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
90 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. ...
1
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0answers
148 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
168 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.
0
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0answers
62 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
86 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
171 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 ...
0
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0answers
48 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
111 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 ...
0
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0answers
54 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. ...
2
votes
1answer
172 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 ...
0
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0answers
67 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
104 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?
2
votes
2answers
843 views

Are there any languages that are more analytic than English other than Afrikaans in the Indo-European family?

Are there any languages that are more analytic than (or as analytic as) English other than Afrikaans in the Indo-European family?
-1
votes
1answer
400 views

What are the job opportunities in linguistics? [closed]

I like learning new languages so I am curious in getting a degree in linguistics. What kind of jobs are available as a linguist? What are the opportunities available in this field? From what I am ...
9
votes
2answers
177 views

Which indigenous languages have marked Ancestral/Mythological Past in grammars?

I have found a mention on such a system among some South American native languages in Adam Jacot de Boinod's book I Never Knew There's A Word For It. Non-academic reading, which doesn't make it less ...
15
votes
7answers
899 views

In languages with grammatical gender, how do they determine the gender when a new word has been created?

In languages with grammatical gender that has (almost) no morphological relation between the words and the genders(e.g. French), how do they determine the gender of a new word that has been ...
3
votes
1answer
172 views

A syntactic approach to possessives

I am currently writing an essay in linguistic typology on possessives. I got stuck in the last part, in which I am supposed to present a syntactic approach to the structure of possessives. I should ...
5
votes
1answer
206 views

Word order typology in Germanic

I am not a native speaker of English, but I study English and Dutch. I have noticed that the two languages differ in their degree of flexibility. The following sentence, for example, is not acceptable ...
1
vote
0answers
215 views

What does the abreviation INFLNFL stand for and what is the difference between INFLNFL and INFL?

What does the abreviation INFLNFL stand for? What is the meaning of INFLNFL and where does it appear in the syntactic tree-construction?
3
votes
0answers
103 views

Dimensions of a verb

A single verb usually describes an action or state --the common dimension of verb among languages. But in addition to that it may convey more information e.g. tense, person, gender of subjective, ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What languages are the most similar to English?

I speak English and Bengali with similar proficiency, at least in the 'lower' registers of the languages. Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, despite having ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between syllable-timing and stress-timing?

From what I've heard, syllable-timed languages have syllables of equal length throughout each breath-group (i.e. bit of spoken discourse said in one breath), and stress-timed languages have ...
1
vote
0answers
185 views

What are some theoretical motivations for do-support?

I've been attempting to put together an overview of the various theoretical motivations that have been proposed for do-support in the literature, but the topic has been frustratingly difficult to ...
2
votes
1answer
155 views

Citations for morpheme/word counts?

(Edited to provide context and clarify what I'm interested in) Context: I am reading a paper that involves comparing German, Dutch, and English. German is the outlier for the phenomena and measures ...
10
votes
2answers
181 views

About how much does language typology correlate with genetic relationships among languages?

About how much does language typology correlate with genetic relationships among languages? For example, should we expect most Sino-Tibetan languages to be isolating, or most Indo-European languages ...
9
votes
4answers
396 views

How usual is it for languages to have both prepositions and postpositions?

It has seemed to me (though I might be wrong) that languages usually take either prepositions (English, German, Spanish) or postpositions (Japanese, Hungarian, Turkish). (Yes I know sometimes a ...
4
votes
2answers
286 views

Where is Welsh on the analytic/synthetic spectrum?

I believe it's traditionally been held to be more on the synthetic side of the spectrum, but why? Are there any quantitative analyses to back this up?