Questions tagged [comparative-linguistics]

A study of the relationships or correspondences between the languages that have a common origin. Formerly known as Comparative Grammar, Comparative Philology.

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What is the subfield of linguistics that studies how different languages use different grammatical and lexical tools to put expressions together?

For example, to express possession, in English we say "I have a pen", while in Russian we say "У меня есть ручка" (lit. "A pen is near me"), while in Latin we say ...
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Request for Texts Giving an Overview of the Evolution of the Indo-Iranian Laguages

Does anyone know of any good accounts of the evolution of the Modern Indo-Iranian languages? I'm especially interested in comparative overviews of either the entire family's historical phonology, or ...
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How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

How similar are the Ukrainian and Russian languages? For example, can I reasonably expect that anybody from Ukraine would be able to understand spoken Russian or be able to read a Russian text?
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Languages with homophonous IF-clauses

In English, most grammars tacitly or explicitly recognise two types of if. One of these introduces subordinate interrogative clauses: I don't know [if I passed the exam]. The other introduces ...
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Is there such a thing as attributive vs. modifier uses of adj? Is un rojo carro vs. un carro rojo the same difference as 红房子 vs. 红的房子?

In teaching Spanish I often explain the difference between pre-nominal adjectives and post-nominal adjectives as the difference between an English noun phrase in which the adjective is stressed, and ...
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Latin -vus/-uus and PIE -wos

What is the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction, if there is one, of the Latin suffixes -tivus (many examples) and -vus/-uus/-ivus (arvus, residuus, cadivus)? I read in a non-reliable source once that ...
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2 votes
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Quantitative methodology for contrastive pragmatics in corpus-based settings

I am interested in literature regarding methodology that could be relevant for quantitative research into differences in pragmatic meaning between two 'equivalent' concepts in two languages (in other ...
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What is a good multi language translation system for individual parts of speech such as verbs, nouns, adjectives?

I am developing a language learning tool in Python that generates dual-language books intended to be read as audio books. The system should work by giving single word translations after every ...
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Why does purple mean red in some places?

The English word purple nowadays refers to the color that is a mixture of blue and red. This word ultimately derives from the Latin purpura which also referred to that color, so it is faithful to that ...
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Why do the Hebrew characters look so different from Greek, Latin, even Phoenician?

Why do the Hebrew characters look so different? See, for example: chart of letters If I look at Greek, Phoenician, etc. I can still see similarities (maybe with rotations or flipping of characters) ...
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Besides Proto-Indoeuropean, what would be the list of the 10 most acurately reconstructed Proto-languages?

Proto-Indoeuropean language (p-IE) has been the subject of study for more than 200 years, and a great deal of work has been published has been written about p-IE reconstruction. In addition, there are ...
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How Polish influenced Ukrainian

I have noticed some complexed loanwords in Ukrainian from German via Polish like the word for taste “smak”. Is it just slight influence that Polish had on Ukrainian or was it related to assimilation ...
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Is there a rule which accounts for a d in PIE becoming a b in Latin?

According to Wikitionary, the Latin word verb is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word *werdʰh₁om which is the etonym of the English word word and the German wort. I am familiar with Grimm's Law ...
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Correspondences between Mandarin and Spanish: coincidences or limitations?

I’m studying mandarin and know a little spanish. One of the things that stuck out to me in particular is that both languages sometimes draw semantic lines in very similar ways. In particular: A) Both ...
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Perfect and Preterite

How can one communicate subtle differences in meaning that in other languages would be signaled only by the distinction of Preterite/Perfect when in fact in the language spoken there is no distinction ...
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Is there a shared word for "word" and "thing" in any language other than Hebrew?

The Hebrew word דבר has a dual meaning because it can mean "word/speak" and also "thing." Contemporary Kabbalists use this dual meaning to argue for a metaphysical connection ...
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How similar are Low German and Dutch?

In Duisburg and Düsseldorf I have heard people talking a mixture of German and Dutch which really confused me! Can anyone please explain how similar to Dutch this so called Low German language is?
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Reference work for comparative Indo-European linguistics?

G. Kroonen, Etymological Dictionary of Proto-Germanic (Leiden, 2013) outlines the phonetic changes from Proto-Indo-European to Proto-Germanic in its introduction. However, it does not outline the ...
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Why is “I pray” a response to “thank you” in many languages?

I noticed that “I pray” is used as a response to “thank you” in many languages. For example, Turkish Teşekkür ederim. (“I thank.”) Rica ederim. (“I pray (or make a request).”) Italian Ti ringrazio....
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Are some language features more resistant to change than others?

Languages change over time. I am wondering if there are certain features that are consistently more stable (i.e. changing more slowly) than others, and if yes, what are some examples? There are many ...
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When evaluating a language, can we say that this language is probably natural or artificial?

In other words, Is there an internal measure/index of "cohesion" of language? I was thinking of the contrast between artificial languages that machines or humans produce, and natural ...
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How did multiple European languages start using future tense to refer to the present?

I recently noticed that German, English and Spanish seem to have a parallel colloquial use of their future tense, in which it's used to express a hypothesis about the present: Literal meaning: I think ...
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Is rising intonation (almost) universally associated with questions across languages, and why?

It seems that in most languages, rising intonation/prosody (towards the end of the sentence) is typically associated with questions. Thus: How prevalent is this practice, and are there major ...
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Why is this 𓏭 Egyptian hieroglyph associated with the Hebrew letter ז [Zayin] and not the word וָו [VaV]?

Why is this 𓏭 Egyptian Hieroglyph associated with the Hebrew letter ז [Zayin] and not the word וו [VaV]? [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleo-Hebrew_alphabet] claims the 𓏭 pictogram is the origin ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Superiority of the Indo-European hypothesis

I am assuming that the hypothesis of an Indo-European phylogenetic relationship is the best of such kind, within the historical-comparative linguistics. It is the best proven, it has the richest data ...
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1 vote
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What is the history behind the use of the infinitive form with an imperative function in Germany, Dutch, and other languages

In German, Dutch, and other languages, the imperative is distinct from the infinitive: Dutch would be doe mee! (singular), doet mee! (plural or formal, dated). German would be mach mit (singular) or ...
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Reversing text -- how do different cultures and languages approach this?

In computer science, there's a "basic problem" called string reversal. You take a piece of text, and flip it so it reads backwards. "abcd" becomes "dcba", etc. There's ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Is there a linguistic term for apologetic prefacing?

I was editing a question on Stack Overflow. Like so many questions it started with an apologetic or diminishing preface: I am genuinely sorry if this is seen as simple but I am new to coding in ...
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Why do most languages, still prevalent in 2021, greet with morphemes related to health or peace?

Why do most prevailing prominent Asian, Middle Eastern and European languages greet with morphemes anent health or peace? I know that "salutation" itself meant "health" — please ...
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12 answers
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Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

According to some early Hebrew grammarians, the Biblical Hebrew word דוד (dod) specifically means "paternal uncle," while the term מסרף (misraf) means "maternal uncle" (for example,...
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Would we be able to prove "Afroasiatic hypothesis" without Akkadian and Egyptian corpora?

In an alternative world where ancient Akkadian and Egyptian corpora didn't survive, if someone formulated the "Afroasiatic hypothesis" encompassing the branches that current consensus places ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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how to tell languages are different? [duplicate]

How to tell that two or more languages are different from each other? I mean what are the linguistic features that are best indicators of language being different e.g. may be numerals, pronominals, ...
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What is the reconstructed root for fire in Proto-Uralic or Proto-Finno-Ugric?

Starostin alleges that IE root h₁n̥gʷnís has cognates in Finno-Urgic. But I distrust this database and also I would like to know what was the proto-form of the root, particularly, the origin of Mari ...
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What's the reconstruction of the word for fire in proto-Australian?

The word for fire in some modern Australian languages: Tiwi yikwani Djinang junggi Maung yungku Walmajarri yakun This is strikingly similar to that in PIE: PIE h₁...
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3 votes
3 answers
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Are proto-languages necessary to divide languages ​within a family into groups?

For example, Indo-European family is divided into groups, such as Slavic, Romance, Germanic, etc. Some of these groups can also be divided, but let`s just assume, that there is no further division. ...
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Have there been any reconstructive efforts of proto-languages, where aspects of historic culture have been inferred for languages other than PIE?

I'm not sure if this is the right SE to ask this question (possibly History SE?), but here goes! Similar to the source material for this video, have there been any efforts to infer aspects of culture ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Languages in which vowels predominate

I was thinking about the loss of hearing that can accompany aging, and how this loss can affect the ability to communicate verbally. Since the ability to distinguish consonants tend to diminish before ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Are the words "blue" and "red" universally linked to coldness and warmness in different languages?

We often talk about warm vs cold colors. When someone feels sad, we say she "feels blue". I conjecture this may be universal across cultures due to our experience with the warmness of the ...
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What kind of features support the claim that Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages?

Inspired by this answer to a different question, I ask what kind of features justify a claim that Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages. The features ...
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10 votes
1 answer
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Can or has the comparative method be used in current Arabic dialects to reconstruct Classical Arabic?

The comparative method has been used in modern Romance languages to piece together Vulgar Latin and Proto Romance. Has the same been done for the modern Arabic dialects to recreate the last descendant ...
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Why are Slovak and Belarusian languages very related to each other while the two countries are geographically far from each other?

in this site, I found the fact that Slovak and Belarusian are very closely related. the lower the percentage, the more related the two compared languages. Why are these languages very related to each ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Spelling of monotonous [closed]

All, I am just curious why 'monotonous' is spelled as mo·​not·​o·​nous and not as mono.tonus following the Greek origin of the word as mono + tone. Mono and tone could be spelled alone and actually ...
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Mistakes in Native Language

I was wondering if there is some research on the number of mistakes made by native speakers in certain languages? I think that since some languages are more complex (their grammar is more complex) and ...
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2 votes
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What do you call (the fact that languages are not always one-to-one in their labellings)?

Based on this question. There is no reason that there should be a ["Good" + "morning"] in Spanish any more than there is a ["Good" + "days"] in English. I ...
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1 vote
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To be vs to have describing state

In English, when describing a personal state, the verb be is used often. For example in English, using be: "I am scared," compared to the German, using have: "Ich habe Angst." Is ...
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-wise, -mente, -ment: How many languages use the "mind" metaphor for adjectives made adverbs?

When I noticed that English, Spanish, Italian, and French use the "mind" metaphor to turn certain adjectives into adverbs (not all, cf "-ly" from English). That is, as it was explained to me by a ...
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6 votes
2 answers
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What is Proto-Semitic *x̣?

In his Akkadian grammar (specifically the appendix on phonology), Huehnergard lists the following Proto-Semitic consonants: Most of this looks familiar to me. However, *x̣ caught me by surprise; I'm ...
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1 vote
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Is there a database or standard (ISO etc.) which maps Unicode or ISO-15924 scripts with the ISO-639/Glottolog etc. languages that use them

Is there a database or standard (ISO etc.) which maps Unicode or ISO-15924 scripts with the ISO-639/Glottolog etc. languages that use them, so that I can make queries like the following on it: For an ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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reason that v. la raison que [closed]

In English reason why is redundant. Prof. John Lawler's answers this twice . Equivalent phrase in French is la raison QUE, but grandson's French teacher told him use la raison pour laquelle = 4. ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Where can I find the letters of documented writing systems, as text, online?

I was looking for the letters of the Safaitic writing system of Ancient North Arabian (ANA) as text, online. Safaitic is a well documented and researched writing system that was a prominent (if not ...
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