Greatest Hits

37
votes
14answers
414k views

What's the difference between phonetics and phonology?

Having practiced armchair linguistics for some years I should be able to sum up the difference off the top of my head, yet often I don't know which term to use. And looking them up on Wikipedia doesn'...
34
votes
9answers
180k views

What's the difference between syntax and grammar?

From what I've read, both terms have to do with the rules of formation of sentences. I've seen grammar used in mathematical contexts, in computability theory, where it has a precise definition. But ...
0
votes
2answers
78k views

Syntax trees for sentences [closed]

I am having trouble drawing a syntax tree for 3 sentences and I would appreciate it if someone could help me. The sentences are: This giraffe reads books about psychopharmacology. Monarchs will fly ...
45
votes
3answers
12k views

Why do English transliterations of Arabic names have so many Qs in them?

I remember when the Muslim holy book was the Koran when I was in middle school, but now it's the Quran. But it's always been Qatar and Iraq (but still Kuwait.) Who decided that 'Q' was going to be ...
22
votes
3answers
10k views

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Hindus believe that "Sanskrit is the mother of all Languages". It is a fact that Sanskrit has enriched most Indian Languages including the Dravidian Languages such as Telugu, as Latin enriched some ...
0
votes
1answer
90k views

Examples of Linguistic Features?

I'm taking a course "Introduction to Translation" and while i'm reading about the things a translator should do before translating a text is to see what are the salient linguistic features in the text?...
2
votes
1answer
45k views

Drawing tree diagrams of ambiguous sentences generated by a CFG

Suppose I have the following CFG rules: S -> NP VP NP -> (D) NOM VP -> V (NP) (NP) NOM -> N NOM -> NOM PP VP -> VP PP PP -> P NP X -> X+ CONJ X How should I draw the tree ...
11
votes
17answers
30k views

Simultaneous bilingualism vs Sequential bilingualism

Simultaneous bilingualism (or multilangualism) is when a child acquires two (or many) languages simultaneously, for example when they are raised by parents speaking more than one language. ...
4
votes
4answers
45k views

Syntax Trees examples

I just try syntax trees and realize that I have a few problems. I have a problem especially with two examples because I am very unsure how to handle the cases. In case 1, I do not know how to deal ...
38
votes
2answers
8k views

Is English tonal for some words, like “permit”?

I have heard the difference between tone and intonation described in the following way: Tone is when the pitch of a word determines its meaning. Intonation is when the pitch of a word conveys its ...
27
votes
6answers
49k 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
66k views

What is recursion?

What is recursion? I've looked at the Wikipedia's explanation (recursion and then recursion in language) but that explanation is not really clear.
70
votes
3answers
8k views

Why did Old English lose both thorn and eth?

My understanding is that Old English had two letters, thorn and eth, which were used interchangeably to represent the sound th as in thin or father. Intuitively, one might think that one of these ...
31
votes
3answers
6k views

Why do the Romance languages use definite articles, when Latin doesn't?

Classical Latin, as I understand things, barely has a definite article at all: ille is the nearest equivalent, and even this word is closer to English that than the. But Spanish, French and Italian ...
28
votes
5answers
7k views

Is future tense in English really a myth?

Does English really have two tenses - present and past? Some linguists argue that it is a Latinate fallacy to think that English has three tenses. Some English professors and even some native ...
11
votes
3answers
77k views

Does an IPA to 'English' translator exist?

IPA is really tricky to read, especially for beginners like me. Are there any online tools that can almost 'convert' pasted IPA into phonetic pronunciations or similar? I've tried Wolfram|Alpha ...
108
12
votes
5answers
26k views

What is the relationship between syntax and semantics?

There are a number of positions you can take on what the relationship between syntax and semantics. You could think that syntax is prior and so think that an expression's syntactic function ...
30
votes
1answer
5k views

Is it unusual that English uses possessive for past tense?

When learning some basic French, I was somewhat surprised to learn that phrases of the form "I have found the cat" generally translate almost word-for-word from English (J'ai trouvé le chat). To me, ...
22
votes
9answers
5k views

Do any languages mark social distinctions other than gender and status?

Many languages have pronouns that reflect gender, and some have pronouns that reflect relative social hierarchy or formality. (To pick an example I actually know, in Dutch the second person singular ...
50
votes
10answers
69k views

When should one use slashes or square brackets when transcribing in IPA?

When should one use /fubar/ and when [fubar] when transcribing in IPA? What are the differences?
34
votes
4answers
6k views

Why isn't “I've” a proper response?

Suppose someone asked me the question, "Have you completed the project?". A standard response would be "I have". Why does the equivalent "I've" sound so strange and never used as a replacement? I am ...
6
votes
2answers
38k views

What is the definition of “complementary distribution”?

Allophones are defined by means of complementary distribution. As I understand it, a complementary distribution is a "mutually exclusive" relationship between two phones, with regard to a certain ...
3
votes
3answers
21k views

Why does English have both Latin and Greek origins

I always assumed that Latin and Greek were related due to English having so many roots from both-but they aren't, right? So why does English have so many Greek and Latin roots?
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17
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7answers
5k views

Are language and thought the same?

I want to know whether language and thought are the same. I think language enriches one's thought and thought helps one to use language better. Without language how could man think? Did they ...
9
votes
4answers
37k views

What is the difference between complements and adjuncts?

What is the difference between complements and adjuncts? I always have a problem drawing a tree diagram for the syntax structure of a sentence with placing complements with word level category and ...
30
votes
8answers
18k views

Why do Japanese people have difficulties in pronouncing English?

When I watch Anime, I notice that Japanese English pronunciation is really bad, they twist all the sounds, and they can't pronounce sounds like "L". I think English is the easiest language when it ...
9
votes
7answers
4k views

Is American Sign Language phonetic?

In every spoken language I'm aware of, if you read a word you are unfamiliar with, you can generally work out how to pronounce the word from how it's written. You can sound it out. Is this kind of ...
15
votes
2answers
62k views

The Origin of the Word 'God'

I originally posted this a while ago on my blog, but someone recently suggested that I pose it as a question here. A brief Wikipedia search on the origin of the word ‘god’ reveals the following: ...
3
votes
4answers
18k views

Difference between discourse analysis and pragmatics

Could you explain for me what is the main difference between pragmatics in linguistics and discourse analysis? Both are related to study of use of language in real world.
15
votes
6answers
41k views

Why did England not maintain French as a spoken language?

In many countries around the world, especially in Africa, the people natively speak both an indigenous language and French due to French colonization. The Norman conquest of England left us with many,...
12
votes
7answers
39k views

What is the difference between voiced and voiceless stop consonants?

As a native speaker of American English, when I was listening to the difference sounds in this IPA chart, I was really surprised when I realized that I could not differentiate between p/b, t/d, and k/...
11
votes
7answers
20k views

Why are consonants distinguished differently than vowels?

Consonants are distinguished normally by features like place of articulation, manner of articulation, voiced/voiceless, etc. while vowels are usually distingusihed by stuff like tongue's position and ...
34
votes
2answers
11k views

Why is “ß” not used in Swiss German?

What are some of the historical reasons why the orthographic symbol ß is not used in Swiss Standard German and “ss” is used instead?
24
votes
2answers
39k views

English text corpus for download

I need a free English language corpus with at least 15 million words. The corpus should contain one or more plain text files. There should be no tagging, just raw text. The corpus should be free. I ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

In Spanish, there are the "vosotros" (only used in Spain) and "ustedes" (formal in Spain) forms for use when talking to a group of people. These also use specific conjugations different different from ...
47
votes
9answers
36k views

Is there an online tool to convert IPA symbols into audio sound?

As many amateurs and beginners know, IPA is difficult to memorize and internalize at first. Does software exist where one can paste in IPA text and hear synthesized speech (ideally in the form of a ...
16
votes
4answers
33k views

Automated French/Italian/German to IPA transcription

I'm looking for a website or software that will take text written in a source language and produce a transcription in IPA. The languages I am interested in are French, Italian and German, but if you ...
18
votes
12answers
37k views

Why was korea able to remove kanji but japan wasn't when both languages use homophones?

I am strictly interested in the question of homophones and kanji. Korean has homophones yet they removed the Chinese characters and are getting by just fine? Or are they? Japanese kanji lovers say ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Why are Latin and Sanskrit called dead languages?

I hear Latin and Sanskrit are called dead languages. Sanskrit is used in rituals and at the temples. I think this is also true of Latin. What is the cause of their degradation when they have enriched ...
16
votes
6answers
41k views

Weird behavior of two fruits' names (ananas/pineapple, banana/plátano)

Some time ago I found two tables that reported the names for two fruits, which were supposed to be funny, because they specifically reported a single exception among those several languages, where ...
18
votes
8answers
41k views

What is the difference between native language, first language, mother tongue and L1?

Note: I'm not a linguist, and I realize I might be treading in a grey area here. I'm wondering what the differences (and/or similarities) between native language, first language, mother tongue and L1 ...
20
votes
8answers
4k views

What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

This is on purpose not a very concrete question, I simply want to know some interesting properties other languages have that English doesn't, or features you even think English ought to have, this can ...
10
votes
5answers
44k views

How to distinguish Korean “ㅔ” /e/ and “ㅐ” /ɛ/?

I've always had trouble with the distinction between the "e"-like vowels in European languages: /e/ vs /ɛ/. But pronouncing them the same has never caused me any problems. In fact I don't even know ...
17
votes
4answers
5k views

Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In many languages we usually say "between min and max" (e.g., grades "between 1 and 10"). Are there any languages where the reverse construction ("between max and min", e.g. grades "between 10 and 1")...
4
votes
1answer
13k views

How can nasalized vowels in English be explained?

. . .Auntie *Ma*rge's present, see, it's here under. . . [audio source] In the audio above, [mɑː] sounds like this: [..m..] [......ɑː.....] ---- (time) ----> This sounds close to nasalized [ɑː]...
13
votes
3answers
34k views

What's the 'official' term for when a word is at the tip of your tongue?

If I remember correctly from the half year I studied linguistics, there is a sort of official name for the situation or state your brain (or your speech center) is in when a word is at the tip of your ...
3
votes
4answers
24k views

Differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions

As far as I know, there are three main differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions: Phonetic transcriptions deal with phones or sounds, which can occur across different languages and ...
27
votes
7answers
13k views

Why do so many core Romanian words with Latin roots come from different roots than in the other Romance languages?

Romanian is a romance language like Catalan, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish so much of its core vocabulary is derived from Latin. Why then even in core vocabulary does Romanian so often ...
9
votes
9answers
18k views

Why does linguistics focus on spoken languages rather than written ones?

I might be wrong since I'm unable to find any sources supporting this, but it's increasingly my gut feeling that linguistics appears to focus on spoken languages as opposed to written ones. If this is ...
-2
votes
1answer
8k 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 ...