Greatest Hits

41
votes
15answers
450k 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'...
40
votes
9answers
199k 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
1answer
111k 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?...
11
votes
17answers
34k 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. ...
18
votes
8answers
8k views

Why do even completely illiterate persons, who speak their national language poorly, speak their local dialect with perfection?

Disclaimers: I have no linguistic knowledge whatsoever, I'm just fascinated by these subjects. Also, I will use the word "dialect" due to my lack of a better word, although I see that the ...
2
votes
1answer
48k 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 ...
52
votes
7answers
16k views

Is there a linguistics term meaning “it's grammatically correct, but nobody says that”?

This happens a lot when learning a foreign language: You learn some grammar structure, and insert some nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc., in the appropriate places, only to find out that no-one would ...
11
votes
5answers
74k 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.
4
votes
4answers
53k 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 ...
28
votes
6answers
51k 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 ...
35
votes
8answers
6k views

Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?

In the sentence "John told James that he's happy.", the pronoun "he" is ambiguous, since it could refer to either John or James. Are there any languages which try to solve this ...
11
votes
3answers
89k 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 ...
116
12
votes
5answers
29k 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 ...
56
votes
10answers
79k 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?
3
votes
3answers
25k 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?
170
6
votes
2answers
41k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
42k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
6k views

Is the Cyrillic letter 'Z' the same as the number 3

Why do the Cyrillic 'Z'(З) and the number '3' seem to be the same glyph? Is there a difference that I'm just not seeing? They look identical to me
45
votes
3answers
13k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
19k 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.
14
votes
2answers
71k 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: ...
71
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
46k 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,...
4
votes
4answers
35k 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 ...
30
votes
8answers
20k 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 ...
53
votes
9answers
41k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
10k views

Were ancient languages as sophisticated as modern languages?

Reading some dialogues from Socrates, it struck me how eloquently the people seemed to speak from those times thousands of years ago. (Although this might be a result of the translation.) And yet ...
13
votes
3answers
12k views

Is the “p” in “spin” really a “b”?

Daniel Everett claims in Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes (Ch. 11) that the English "p" and "b" in "pin" and "bin" are separate phonemes, since they alone distinguish the words "pin" and "bin," whereas ...
12
votes
7answers
40k 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
21k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
38k 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 ...
20
votes
12answers
42k 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 ...
25
votes
2answers
43k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

In Germanic languages, the p sound in Proto-Indo-European became f. I have wondered if the p sound means that the word does not come from a Germanic source. This is because words that have p in them ...
18
votes
8answers
44k 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
45k 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 ...
46
votes
2answers
10k views

Could the Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs have been deciphered without the Rosetta Stone with modern tech?

The Rosetta Stone was one of the most important documents in the history of linguistics. Discovered around 1800, it allowed Ancient Egyptian to be deciphered. Let's say that the stone didn't exist, ...
11
votes
6answers
47k 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 ...
36
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is there (almost) no variety to the Hebrew accent in Israel?

Hebrew is my native language, and I grew up and spent most of my life in Israel. Unlike English, in Hebrew we don't have a variety of accents. In fact, generally all of the people in Israel have the ...
8
votes
9answers
20k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a term for translating a word to a language that has a different alphabet (such as Hindi to English)?

The specific example that I am thinking of is the word "दाल का सूप" in Hindi. It translates to "lentil soup", and is pronounced "dal", however there are multiple ways of ...
4
votes
1answer
14k 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]...
39
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
28
votes
7answers
14k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
35k 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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
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?
9
votes
3answers
15k views

What defines a language?

I'm reading around multimodal text and many of the readings I have come across (Kress, Halliday) seem to define language as spoken or written communication. That seems to exclude sign language and ...
16
votes
4answers
12k views

What are the chief advantages & disadvantages of describing sentences with dependency vs. phrase structure trees?

What are the chief advantages & disadvantages of describing sentences with dependency vs. phrase structure (aka. constituency) trees? From what I've read, dependency grammar trees lack phrase ...
13
votes
5answers
26k views

How many “words” do I need to learn?

I am interested in learning a second language. To do this I have created a list of the 1000 most common words and phrases for a given language. I've also established sentences which contains each of ...

1
2 3 4 5
20