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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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Nicknames in Various Historical Cultures

There are a variety of ways to form casual address terms. Using family terms is common ('brother'), shortening/modifying a given name ('Teddy' from Theodore), or something based on the person's ...
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Does the English “Garden” come from the French “Jardin” or the German “Garten”?

I always assumed that the English word "Garden" was similar to the German "Garten" due to the Germanic roots of English. But according to Wikipedia, "Garden" in English is related to the French "...
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159 views

How often are dictionary etymologies wrong?

How often are the etymologies in dictionaries incorect? Sometimes when reading a dictionary I see a derivation of a word which contradicts my intuition. For example I read that "ball" comes from ...
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61 views

How common is it for languages to be head-first as often as they are head-final?

English, I've heard, is rather odd for not leaning one way or another towards a head-final order, or a head first. Verbs gravitate towards the beginning of sentences and it uses prepositions, which ...
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113 views

What are some of the most divergent cognate word forms?

I'm looking for examples like this pair: Russian for 'grass snake' — уж, [uʂ] Classical Latin for 'snake' — anguis, likely [ˈaŋ.ɡᶣɪs] These word forms are both masculine nouns in the nominative, and ...
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206 views

What is the oldest language that we know enough about to construct a plausible sentence in it?

One exciting way to track the evolution of our understanding of Proto-Indo-European is to look at the different versions of Schleicher's fable from different years. The more time we spend studying the ...
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42 views

Where do I find datasets for linguistic phylogenetics?

Where can I find machine readable datasets for use in phylogenetic estimation? I am looking for anything---lexical cognate data, phonological data, morphosyntactic data---in any language family.
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Calculating conceptual similarity of distinct languages

I'm new to linguistics (fresh off the boat) and am curious if there is some type of equation/field/sub-field that tries to quantify the conceptual similarity between distinct languages. Not just the ...
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71 views

Is there any evidence of language contact between the Inuit and Ainu languages?

The Eskimo-Aleut and Ainu languages were historically spoken in the same region (near the Kamchatka Peninsula), and they share some features that are common in Paleo-Siberian languages, including ...
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1answer
86 views

How to proceed with this Maasai translation?

The problem statement is as follows: Question: Indicate which translation goes with each Maasai sentence. My current approach: The word {word1} appears a total of 8 times in the Maasai sentences ...
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1answer
71 views

Similar demonstrative pronouns in several different East Asian language families

Looking at a list of synonyms in several different East Asian language families, I found that many languages have a similar-sounding word for "this": English: This Khmer: នេះ (nih) Korean: 이 (i) ...
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36 views

Is there any topological foundations for biosemiotics?

I'm currently studying Biosemiotics from the school of barbeiri. I stumbled upon this article, "topological aspects of biosemiotics". In this article, the author argues that, there are ...
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60 views

Do more closely related languages, have more similar Zipfian distributions?

"Zipf's law" is just a pretentious way of saying that many types of data, in various sciences, fit certain kinds of power law distribution. E.g. in linguistics, for a corpus of English word frequency ...
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What is the relation of PIE *wers (“to confuse, mix up; to beat, thresh, grind”), *wert (“to turn, to rotate”), and *werb (“to bend, to turn”)?

From *wers we get English war, worse, worst. From *wert we get English versus, verse, version, vertex, vortex, vertical, revert, invert, divert,..., worth, -ward, weird. From *werb/p we get ...
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89 views

Is there a language that's as trialistic as English is dualistic?

In the modern English discourse there are a lot of dualistic distinctions. An object is either located on the right or the left. That dualistic conception then gets translated into a lot of other ...
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66 views

Are there languages that make radically more distinction with their modal verbs than English and other European languages

I'm interested in how different languages can model a specific domain more precisely. Are there languages that make a lot more distinction when it comes to their modal verbs than English?
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76 views

Besides Proto-Indo-European, does any language have separate words for “one alone” and “one united”?

In PIE, e̯oinos meant "one alone", "one separated", it has the same root as in the word for "goes", e̯eiti. Semantically it meant the one that went away. At the same time, som meant "one united", "...
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Measuring oral comprehensibility between different language

Recently I was wondering whether some languages are inherently more comprehensible when spoken, than others. Has this been measured in any way? To make things more precise, let's define a "please say ...
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51 views

Which language expresses aspect most similarly to English?

I suppose there are at least two ways to read this question (forgive me, I'm not a linguist, just a struggling practical language student): 1) Which languages' aspects map onto those in English most ...
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124 views

Is the Indo-Austronesian Hypothesis an example of a pseudoscientific language comparison?

So, is this an example of a pseudoscientific language comparison: Indo-Austronesian In short, the webpage on the link claims that there are a few regular sound correspondences between Proto-Indo-...
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48 views

Is there a measure for grammatical similarity?

Something I see from time to time is the proportion of words from various sources, e.g. English has about 29% French, 29% Latin, 26% Germanic and 6% Greek words. I've never seen anything similar with ...
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198 views

Are Hindi “Bigul” (बिगुल) and English “Bugle” cognates?

In Hindi, Bigul (बिगुल) (IPA /bigul/) is a bugle-like instrument, if they are cognates can someone also tell me how they might have been formed.!
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Dissecting an unknown language sample with nothing but an interpretation thereof?

So let's just say that one acquired a sample of an unknown tongue (let's just pretend it's Japanese,) and they wanted to dissect it word for word without knowing anything about it based off an ...
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641 views

Which Indo European language best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European?

Among all attested Indo European languages, which one best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European? Which is most useful in the reconstruction of PIE?
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Parallel English-Spanish corpora?

I would like to know of parallel corpora for English-Spanish (that is, texts or language originally in English translated into Spanish and aligned by excerpts of texts) other than those on the Opus ...
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337 views

Are Latin “virīlis”, Punjabi “vīr”, Old Irish “fer” , Wels “gwr” and Hindi “var” related?

Are all the words above from the same root (PIE)? Or are these a bunch of false cognates like behtar (Farsi) better (English).
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751 views

Relationship between Japanese and Austronesian languages

Linguists have generally accepted that Japanese belongs to the Japonic family, and the only extant "sibling" language of Japanese are the Ryukyuan languages. It is also conjectured that Japanese is ...
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224 views

Which language code set (WALS, Linguasphere, ISO 639‑3 or Glottolog) should be the basis for a comparative linguistic project?

To compile a word-list database which includes the available scattered word lists (mainly Swadesh lists), which language code should one use? WALS with 2679 entries, lots of linguistic data included....
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290 views

How are Baltic and Slavic languages related?

What are their common characteristics? I was reading about it on Wikipedia but didn't understand much since I have no background in linguistics. I would appreciate if someone could just name some ...
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230 views

Are there any known natural languages in which tense is never (or very rarely) expressed through the modification of verbs?

I should probably confess up front that I don't have a great deal of knowledge of foreign languages, but I have lately taken a strong interest in the structure and nature of language, and have spent a ...
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382 views

Are different varieties of German closer to each other than different Slav languages?

Are different varieties of German (e.g. Bavarian and Low German) closer to each other than different Slav languages (e.g. Russian and Polish)? The lexical distance map from https://elms.wordpress.com/...
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What is the origin of the Arabic word دزينة (dazina)?

As a Semitic language, one would expect the word dozen to be rooted in Aramaic (such as תריסר in Hebrew). This is obviously not the case, as the word appears similar to "dozen", rooted in Latin. Is ...
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How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

It's (generally) accepted that Proto-Indo-European (PIE) evolved into the subfamilies Proto-Italic, Proto-Germanic, and Proto-Iranian among others. English uses a Latin Writing system which evolved ...
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What is the etymology of Tibetan ཁང་ [khang]?

I've just discovered that ཁང་ [Wylie: khang], the Tibetan word for 'building' used as a part in many everyday vocabulary items sounds strangely familiar to the word of the same meaning in Farsi, which ...
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Potential gaps in the pIE phonological system?

The phonological system of proto-Indo-European (and of any other proto-language without written records) is reconstructed via the comparative method, which inevitably leaves some questions open. One ...
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207 views

Lexical Distance, is there a table?

I was looking (for a statistics project) to the Lexical Distance between languages and I came across this post Worldwide map or data for linguistic distance? I was wondering if there is any "...
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573 views

How many vowels and how many consonants did the Proto-Indo-European Language have?

I am interested in development paths of Russian and English sound systems. At present the situation is as follows: according to WALS, the consonant inventory of modern Russian is classed as "...
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“I don't know if they escaped” / “If they escaped, they're long gone” - Conditional protases and interrogative clauses

English, conditional protases [ read "antecedents" ] bear a close resemblance to interrogative clauses. For example, they are often identical to subordinate closed interrogative clauses: If Bertha ...
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232 views

What can be said about the evolution of syllable stress in related languages?

Remembering a Czech song I once learnt I remembered a short Czech crash course I had and the teacher who said: In Czech, stress is always on the first syllable. This got me thinking and I ...
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202 views
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4k views

Worldwide map or data for linguistic distance?

I came upon an excellent graphical representation of the linguistic distance between a number of European languages. I'm looking for a similar worldwide map of currently spoken languages. Or at least ...
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732 views

Most regular and irregular languages

I would like to know which natural languages are grammatically the most regular and irregular. There are several titbit articles on the web but none are definitive or explanatory. By regular, I want ...
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145 views

What resources explain the oppositions in Grammatical Gender between French and Spanish noun cognates?

Abbreviate Grammatical Gender to GG. This question concerns binary contrarieties and oppositions (Are these the correct terms?) in GG between French and Spanish noun cognates. Are there any books or ...
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164 views

The expressive power of languages : Information content in a sentence : How do we measure it

What is your name Isme shoma chi e Two sentences - same content. My question is about the way to measure information content in a language. How do we do this? Because quite evidently count of the ...
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101 views

Have there been attempts to verify accuracy of the comparative method?

Comparative method, being a great accomplishment of historical linguistics, obviously has its flaws. Reconstructions of proto-languages provided by this method can only be perceived as mere abstract ...
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Are there resources that explore interchange between object and the subject caused by a verb?

1. Are there linguistics terms that describe the following phonemenon? 2. I desire to learn the possible explanations or reasons that in English, certain verbs interchanged the subject and object to ...
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150 views

Why do similar phonological shifts occur in unrelated languages

Some of the shifts are obvious such as palatalization, or any consonants with adjacent places and manners, but some other more radical changes are also observed in unrelated languages. For example, ...
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170 views

What language differs in the most aspects from English? [closed]

By aspects I mean things like grammar, punctuation, pronunciation, etc. I want to learn a language but I deliberately want it to be as different to English as possible while still being a reasonably ...
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Why do English, Italian, German, Spanish, French and Latin share a common alphabet and many words?

I wonder why English, Italian, German, Spanish, French and Latin share common alphabet and other words. Also what is the relation among them.
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Help us save a dying language with only 1 speaker left! [closed]

It's difficult to do this single-handedly, so I could use some professional help. :) I'm a professor of Ancient Egyptian (and cosmology as well, which means I'm a perfect target for conspiracy ...