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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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Quantative/Statistical comparison between unequal corpora

I have created a corpus of 400.000 words, consisting exclusively of governmental administrative documents. I am focusing on the usage of rare words and i want to prove that my corpus has increased ...
vigilantius22's user avatar
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Linguistic name for the change of meaning: 'apocalypse'in Greek New Testament meaning 'revelation' and the present use meaning 'catastrophy, etc

The first word in John's "Revelation" is a Greek word 'apokalipsis'. Yet, in modern times the word 'apocalypse' and its equivalents in many languages means 'catastrophe', 'tragedy', etc. So ...
Wieslaw's user avatar
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Why does PIE *sneygʷʰ- ("snow") give L. nix, Gk. νίφα (acc.)?

What happens to internal /e/ and semivowel /y/ in *snéygʷʰm̥ to yield L. nix? I have no clue how that vowel change works.
fruitcheesy's user avatar
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1 answer
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Why does PIE *ǵn̥h₁tós yield Latin nātus?

I'm an undergraduate classicist doing a PIE paper! It's absolutely fascinating, but I'm still getting there with my understanding, so apologies if my questions are a bit silly! I have been looking at ...
fruitcheesy's user avatar
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Could the initial d- in the word for tongue be originally a prefix?

I am looking for the most ancient proto-world lemmas and it seems, the word for tongue is shared by many families from over the world. Here are some selected examples: Niger-Congo: * Proto-Heiban: ...
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What is the origin of Marathi and Konkani case endings (specifically genitive and accusative-dative)?

In Konkani and Marathi, the genitive case ending is -च (cha) with a vowel attached to the end depending on the gender. I am curious to know the origin of this case ending. Is there potential of a ...
Mr Jangoon's user avatar
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5 answers
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Is there any modern Indo-European languages with synthetic passive form

Which modern IE language(s) have synthetical passive form(s)? Latin did have, but it is not a modern one.
user43346's user avatar
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1 answer
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Are any languages objectively simpler to learn than others as a native speaker?

Are there any languages which are objectively easier to learn from birth than others? This might be broken into two parts - the spoken form, and the written form For example, are African "click&...
warren's user avatar
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Is Etruscan zivas "to live" a borrowing from some IE language?

The Etruscan zivas looks similar to PIE *gʷih₃wós and its decendants, like Greek zōós, Latin vīvus, Proto-Italic and Proto-Hellenic *gʷīwos. Is it known to be a borrowing from an IE language?
Anixx's user avatar
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What's the gender of "nice" in "Mary is a nice person"?

I just read this rule in Greek Essential Grammar: This passage says that, in the Greek sentence for "Mary is a nice person", the adjective nice is masculine because it must agree with the ...
chocojunkie's user avatar
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Is it reasonable to connect the Old Persian/Avestan word for "garden" with the Greek word?

The Old Persian/Avestan word for "garden/orchard" is bustan/bostan. On the surface, this word looks very similar to the Greek term botane, which means the same thing (and is clearly the ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
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1 answer
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Words for tongue in Tungusic

In Tungusic there are attested the following words for tongue: Manchu: ilenggu Nanai: siŋmu Evenki: inni, čoli Wikitionary postulates that the words ilenggu, siŋmu and inni are related and gives ...
Anixx's user avatar
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Uniquenesses of Hebrew

Franz Philipp Kaulen, S.J. (1827-1907) was impressed in favor of [ancient] Hebrew by the following facts: In no other language is there such an intimate relation between nouns and their objects; the ...
Geremia's user avatar
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3 answers
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Is Russian the most diverged Slavic language? [closed]

Does the Russian language have more innovations and divergent development from other languages in the Slavic branch? I am asking, because I always had the feeling, that the tense and pronunciation in ...
Zlar Vixen's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
146 views

How do consonant clusters originate?

I tried finding some information on this topic but there isn't a lot of information out there. The only things I could find is that it could originate from deletion of vowels between consonants. Are ...
Anatolie Agachi's user avatar
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Could the precursor to Pre-Proto-Quechua have been a monosyllabic tonal language?

So this has been intriguing me for years: In 'Perspectives on the Quechua-Aymara Contact Relationship and the Lexicon and Phonology of Pre-Proto-Aymara', Nicholas Emlen mentions, citing Adelaar (1986) ...
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What language is most similar to Basque?

While Basque remains firmly a language isolate and AFAIK it's origins (along with that of the Basque people) remain shrouded in mystery, I wonder if there are any languages, living or dead, that ...
Mr X's user avatar
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How to write a rule for total assimilation of sounds?

I am looking at this list of words; the first column is from Sanskrit, and the second is from a daughter language Prakrit. sapta > satta dugdha > duddha udgāra > uggāla tikta > titta ...
Eva V's user avatar
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1 answer
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Is there a standardized way to classify languages according to how much the order of the words is tied to the words themselves?

(I'm a language enthusiast, not a linguist, so the question is probably longer and contains more examples than it needs; maybe it could have been shorter if I had more techinical terminology at my ...
Enlico's user avatar
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Is Linguistic Nihilism a legitimate philosophical/linguistic position?

By Linguistic Nihilism, a subcategory of Nihilism (the position that denies value/ability/meaning/etc.), I mean the position that ... There's A Problem: Any, all languages are inadequate for every ...
Hudjefa's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
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What measures are there of similarity between languages? And where can I find data on such measurements?

Perhaps the most natural measure of similarity between two close languages is the ease with which a native speaker of one can understand the other. (This might not be symmetrical in some cases, ...
John Bentin's user avatar
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Are the gramatical cases slowly disappearing in Romanian or they were never that used in the common speech?

Where I live in Muntenia, people rarely use the dative anymore and replace it with the preposition “la” + the nominative/accusative form of the noun or pronoun. “Am dat la băiat să mănânce” instead of ...
SarruKen's user avatar
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Classification of kinship system by languages

I'm looking for a way to compare "closeness" of languages based on their kinship systems. The only thing I found is this classification, which classifies kin systems to: Eskimo, Hawaiian, ...
ChomChom's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
238 views

Questions about the "Hand of Irulegi"

The Hand of Irulegi is a recently found artifact from Navarra, Spain. It is dated in 1st c. BCE and carries an inscription touted as the oldest attestation of the Basque language. The text can be ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
220 views

Qualifying similarities between languages - e.g., German and Norwegian

I learnt "fluent" German and Dutch and I am learning Norwegian. German is much closer to Dutch than Norwegian. Yet, there are obvious strong and fascinating similarities between German and ...
kiriloff's user avatar
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2 votes
3 answers
134 views

Etymological relationship between picture/image and education/formation

There are German words Bild (picture/image) and Bildung (education/formation). In Russian, education is образова́ние [obrazovaniye], whilst obraz in many Slavic languages means either directly picture/...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

Suppose language A and language B belong to the same language family. And suppose the speakers of language A understand language B a lot better than the speakers of language B understand language A. ...
dobrze's user avatar
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If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why are there apparent sound correspondences?

We have Hebrew: šeš; Russian: šestʹ; Ukrainian: šistʹ; Latin: six; English: six; Hebrew: yeš; Russian: yestʹ; Ukrainian: ye, isnuye; Latin: est; English: is; Hebrew: ze; Russian: se; Ukrainian: сe [...
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5 votes
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Why are telling and counting related in many languages?

In many languages, verbs for telling a story are based on or related to verbs for counting. There are (at least) three groups of such verbs: English "recount", French "conter" and ...
joriki's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
482 views

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 ...
Slavus's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
Tristan's user avatar
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36 votes
5 answers
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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?
Martin's user avatar
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0 answers
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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 ...
Araucaria - him's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
99 views

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 ...
Buddy L's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
164 views

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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
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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 ...
Damiaan Reijnaers's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
58 views

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 ...
Holden's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
647 views

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 ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
596 views

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) ...
guest's user avatar
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1 answer
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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 ...
Davius's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
331 views

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 ...
Antoine Vichev's user avatar
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2 answers
189 views

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 ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
118 views

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 ...
Breaking Bioinformatics's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
132 views

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 ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
2 votes
6 answers
746 views

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 ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
887 views

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?
Antoine Vichev's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
168 views

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 ...
ksuchodo's user avatar
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3 answers
165 views

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....
hb20007's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
254 views

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 ...
Szabolcs's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
174 views

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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