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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

1
vote
0answers
28 views

Do any language lack a present tense different from that used in Indoeuropean languages?

i wonder if the present tense (a tense denoting the present and only the present) is a universal in languages that have tense. Or do some languages have a present tense that extends into the recent ...
4
votes
4answers
167 views

Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

How should I organize my grammar?

So I'm doing a grammar for my conlang (constructed language). My conlang is a very verb-heavy/polysynthetic language. E.g. subordinate clauses are marked on the verb. To create a conditional clause ...
1
vote
2answers
100 views

Is there a language with a null case particle that signal a single, distinct case relation?

I've come across the idea of a null morpheme. There are languages with determiners that are case particles. Since a morpheme can be a particle, I would assume there might be languages with null ...
1
vote
0answers
60 views

Is there any language where the “copula” is also identical with and function as an “auxiliary verb”?

Are there languages where the "copula" is: invariant morphologically but may be phonologically conditioned (not inflected for any features like tense, number, etc. like English "is/was/were"), ...
2
votes
3answers
167 views

How does Japanese word order obviate the need for relative pronouns?

According to the Wikipedia page on Japanese grammar: Head finality in Japanese sentence structure carries over to the building of sentences using other sentences. In sentences that have other ...
4
votes
1answer
106 views

How frequent are different morphosyntactic types?

I started wondering what share of all world's languages are polysynthetic (on any practical definition of polysynthetic, i.e. the prototype approach, the macroparameter theory (Baker 1995), etc.), and ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

Looking for quantitative studies on languages' degree of synthesis

Languages lie on an analytic-synthetic spectrum, where more analytic languages use free/unbounded grammatical morphemes while synthetic languages use bounded grammatical morphemes. Unbounded ...
3
votes
3answers
85 views

What is the study of language usage types [a question, an answer, a criticism, a complaint an elaboration, etc]

What is the study of language usage types [a question, an answer, a criticism, a complaint an elaboration, etc]? I've heard ontology and typology used interchangeably but not sure either is correct ...
4
votes
3answers
109 views

Terminology for a group of words derived from a common stem?

What is the linguistic term for a palette of words, which are derived / span from the same stem (excluding the so-called doublets like warranty vs guaranty...)? Example: Act (verb), react ...
6
votes
2answers
91 views

Are there languages without subordination/only with parataxis?

My Latin teacher was talking about parataxis and hypotaxis using coordinating vs subordination conjunctions. He said that may have been the way people spoke in the past. I don't believe there ever was ...
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Is there a language with phonemic distinction of voicing within vowels?

Just as in the topic. It seems unlikely to me, I could not find anything about this on wals.info but nonetheless it seems theoretically possible since articulating vowels without voicing is doable. ...
2
votes
2answers
113 views

Is it possible to determine the number of words in a language?

Recently I got into a discussion with my friend concerning sizes of lexicons of different languages. He stated something about Japanese having considerably more words than English. (The exact ...
3
votes
1answer
78 views

Languages showing affricate-to-plosive fortition (especially diachronically)

It is well known that consonant lenition or weakening tends to be far more common cross-linguistically than the opposite process called fortition or strengthening. Now, some languages have been ...
5
votes
1answer
54 views

TAM categories: Can they be predicted from their numbers (a language's TAM inventory size)?

To some extent, vowels can be predicted based on the size of the vowel inventory, so, for example, in a 3-vowel system, it will be /a i u/, whereas in a 4-vowel system, we will get /a i u ɛ/ or /a i u ...
3
votes
4answers
315 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.
0
votes
0answers
13 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
26 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
76 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"? ...
1
vote
0answers
62 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
49 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.
3
votes
1answer
83 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
71 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
34 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
189 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
79 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
123 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?
6
votes
3answers
128 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
205 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, ...
2
votes
2answers
116 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
877 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
244 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
2answers
127 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
211 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
135 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
votes
3answers
160 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
396 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
votes
0answers
65 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. ...
3
votes
1answer
95 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
vote
0answers
132 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
150 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', ...
5
votes
1answer
793 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
205 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
168 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
vote
1answer
342 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
157 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
votes
1answer
161 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
150 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
119 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
112 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 ...