Questions tagged [cross-linguistic]

Comparisons across (as opposed to within) languages or language families.

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0 answers
96 views

Semantic loans; words borrowing a meaning already there?

What exactly is a semantic loan, how can a word borrow a meaning it already has? I am trying to figure out whether there are any limitations (can we choose any morphemes) on the recipient word and the ...
4 votes
1 answer
227 views

What was the original pronounciation of the Thai consonant symbols?

The Thai language was devised to serve two main purposes: to write Thai words and to write Sanskrit (or Pali) words. For this reason, the Thai alphabet has one consonant symbol for each Sanskrit sound ...
-3 votes
1 answer
48 views

10 examples of complex infix / circumfix words which also contain prefixes and/or suffixes (cross language)? [closed]

I am putting together a cheatsheet of complex word forms across languages, so myself and others if so desired want to have a test suite of words to work with to figure out how to handle their complex ...
0 votes
0 answers
63 views

Hidden philosophy in languages?

The 'usual self-introduction' in English is 'I am [name]' or 'My name is [name].' The former indicates that someone's name is something they are, while the latter suggests that the name is a property ...
3 votes
3 answers
5k views

List of phoneme per language

I there a resource that lists the phonemes that are used in different languages? I would prefer a ranking of the most common phonemes within each language like in this example: German: 1 /ɛ/ 2 /ə/ ....
2 votes
1 answer
156 views

Is “actual” both a false friend and a cognate?

English definition of “actual”: existing in fact; typically as contrasted with what was intended, expected, or believed. Spanish definition of “actual”: current, present, contemporary These are ...
-4 votes
2 answers
106 views

Why don't currently spoken languages have words for everything they encounter?

I have been getting translations of what I would consider are fairly basic words, into various languages, and have found some don't have translations and they either make up a translation on the spot (...
-2 votes
1 answer
56 views

What are examples covering the spectrum of possibilities of inflection types across languages?

I am currently looking at Turkish adjective intensification where they are formed by adding a letter in the middle of the word, according to some rules (after first consonant + vowel): siyah ("...
2 votes
1 answer
149 views

Most and least common places of articulation across world's languages

Which place of articulation is most common for oral pulmonic stops in the world's languages? In order, which places of articulation are the LEAST common in the world's languages? In order, which ...
0 votes
1 answer
124 views

What script is this, and what does it mean? [closed]

A girl in the gym has this printed down her trousers but has no idea what the text means or where the trousers even were bought from. My two guesses are either Amharic or Oghams. Who knows?
2 votes
2 answers
253 views

About phrasal verbs, separable verb and verbs with adverbs

I was wondering about the concepts listed in the title. In one side we have the separable verbs in German, like mitkommen: Ich komme mit. On the other hand we have phrasal verbs such as think over ...
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26 views

Distance between languages [duplicate]

This question is similar to this one; the difference is that I'd like to find out about quantitative measurements that are not based solely on the vocabulary. Are there any such objective quantitative ...
2 votes
2 answers
259 views

When is a conjunction not a conjunction?

I am trying to get to the bottom of Thai constructions which I can only gloss along the lines of: (1) Because of the fact that her friends helped her escape prevented the soldiers from catching her; ...
4 votes
1 answer
6k views

What language has the longest word for 'no' and 'yes'?

I'm asking this because I'm learning Swahili now, for which the word 'yes' translates to 'ndiyo' and 'no' translates to 'hakuna.' It strikes me as strange that a language would have such long words ...
9 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is there a list of word meanings that are universally represented in all languages?

I am looking for a comprehensive list of words/concepts that are represented in most if not all known languages - presumably the category would include human body parts (hand, foot, mouth, eye), ...
0 votes
2 answers
266 views

Frequency of phonemes in Indian languages

I would like to know the relative frequency of phonemes in Indian languages whose sript is basically very close to Devanagiri. We need this data to make a pronunciation based keyboard layout for ...
1 vote
1 answer
106 views

Languages that distinguish between objective vs. subjective genitives

Are there languages that grammatically distinguish between objective and subjective genitives?
12 votes
7 answers
882 views

Are there any languages where the genitive case changes according to its object?

In forms like Claudio's house or Claudio's dogs, are there languages in which the Claudio's would change depending on gender and number of the houses or dogs?
0 votes
2 answers
417 views

Could the proto-human language still play a role in the interlingual communication?

I've read several studies about sound symbolism and I'm still not sure whether I got an insight into the topic. I know that today's view of most of the linguists is skeptical towards sound symbolism ...
0 votes
1 answer
246 views

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 ...
3 votes
0 answers
44 views

Exception to word order in quotative situations

I'm very uneducated in syntax, so I apologize if this question is something really basic that everyone already knows. English is a subject-verb-object language, and it is known to follow that pattern ...
24 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do onomatopoeias resist sound change?

Regular sound changes can of course affect phonemes used in onomatopoeias. For example, consider a language containing /mjaw/, referring to the call of a cat. Suppose that final /w/ is sound-changed ...
1 vote
3 answers
275 views

How do other cultures categorize phonemes?

I don't know where it came from, but the "west" at least as I have learned, came up with the idea of "vowels" and "consonants" at some point, and we just go with that ...
-4 votes
1 answer
77 views

What languages like Chinese are composed out of a limited set of syllables?

It appears Chinese has about 400 syllables (1600 if you include tones): https://www.quora.com/Are-all-Chinese-words-one-syllable https://chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/14596/how-many-syllables-...
11 votes
4 answers
763 views

Relationship between possession ("to have") and tenses ("I have seen")

In several Indo-European languages the verb that denotes possession (to have) is also used to construct verb tenses. Some examples: I have seen ... I have a dog. (English) Am văzut ... Am un câine. (...
-2 votes
1 answer
60 views

Word that means "a class of words that represent the output of the same phonology"?

What word do you use to describe groups of words that represent the output of the same phonology? For example, here are some words I found from looking at maps & name lists for different countries:...
6 votes
4 answers
535 views

Which languages have absorbed the most vocabulary from Russian, and which languages have influenced its vocabulary?

I'm a student of formal linguistics and Russian language, my question has been surprisingly hard to google -- I've studied a little Ukrainian, and I've read that its structurally similar to Russian ...
1 vote
2 answers
124 views

Technical word for cross-lingual pronunciation that causes bad meaning

In Arabic, کونی is the imperative second person feminine of "be". But the same word in Persian means a faggot (slang). The one who found the heleocentrism is called Copernicus, bet the last ...
6 votes
3 answers
3k views

Are there any other rules for adjective order?

At the English Language and Usage Stackexchange site, the question was asked What is the rule for adjective order? and the answer boiled down to: (article) + number + judgement/attitude + size + ...
2 votes
2 answers
561 views

When an existential verb is used existentially as the predicate to a subject, is it true in all languages that it cannot take another predicate?

When an existential is used existentially verb as the predicate to a subject, is it true in all languages that it cannot take another predicate? In other words, when the existential to-be verb means '...
0 votes
1 answer
302 views

How do languages without adjectives, that treat them instead as verbs, handle more complex adjective-like phrases?

I am looking at papers like Where have all the adjectives gone? The case of Jinghpaw which show stuff like: fi=go ggba=thinn re. 3sg=TOP be.big=SUPER COP 'He is the biggest.' Also, Approaches to the ...
0 votes
0 answers
42 views

Do any languages greatly restrict the placement of adjectives/adverbs in a phrase or sentence?

I am working on a conlang and wondering how natural languages might limit the placement of "modifiers" (adjectives and adverbs) in a sentence. For example: I eventually walked to the store. ...
1 vote
1 answer
50 views

How do the various different word orders handle 3 and 4 argument verbs?

If a 2-argument verb is like "to light", as in "I light the candle", a SOV might say it equivalent to "I the candle light", and a VSO might do "light I the candle&...
3 votes
1 answer
126 views

Difference between Cantonese /gw/ and Mandarin /gu/?

As a native speaker of both languages, Cantonese /gw/ like in 過gwo3 and Mandarin /gu/ like in 过guo4 sounds the same, but I've checked that the Cantonese one is [kʷɔː] while the Mandarin one is [kwo], ...
2 votes
1 answer
300 views

Where does supplementation fit in?

As far as I can see, the structure of supplementary constructions like Karen, being ill, was unable to go or John – her father – was unable to walk her down the aisle or maybe a washer-dryer ...
3 votes
5 answers
833 views

Are there any languages where you say "My age is x years"?

This question is inspired by another one on ELL.SE. To me, the most logical way to say "I am 20 years old" would be "My age is 20 years," because age is an attribute of a person. ...
2 votes
1 answer
283 views

Could Cimmerian be a transitional language between Iranian and Slavic?

After a period of reflection, I am currently no longer considering a direct kinship between Iranian and Slavic languages, but rather turning to the existence of another transitional language between ...
6 votes
3 answers
492 views

How is chapter related to head?

In several languages, the word for "chapter" (a self-contained unitary text of a book) comes from the word for "head": In Latin, "capitulum" (literally "small head") comes from caput (head). This ...
4 votes
3 answers
978 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 "...
3 votes
1 answer
137 views

Ambiguous active/passive interpretations

This is a general and brief question. Is anyone familiar with a language which can be largely ambiguous with respect to whether the construction is active or passive, to the degree that in some cases ...
0 votes
0 answers
39 views

Embedding conditional statements in relative and complement clauses

I happened to run across the following sentence on ELL.SE: Anyone who feels that if so many more students whom we haven't actually admitted are sitting in on the course than ones we have that the ...
4 votes
1 answer
162 views

Peculiarities of English as spoken/written by Norwegians [closed]

I'm writing a fiction book. Some of its characters are Norwegians who exchange emails in English. I'd like to lightly stylise their texts. What mistakes / peculiarities / word choice / sentence ...
1 vote
4 answers
273 views

When/how did "articles" like "the" first appear in language?

I am wondering this sort of cross-linguistically. I know many (most?) languages don't have a word for "the", but the English language does. First part of the question is, did Middle English ...
-5 votes
1 answer
101 views

What are some example linguistic glosses for the early languages which lack definite articles ("the")? [closed]

My working assumption is that definite articles evolve in language after much of more simpler language, though they can later be lost from a language as it evolves further. First, it appears to me ...
2 votes
1 answer
125 views

Has anyone ever ranked the prevalence of phones by number of speakers worldwide?

I'm interested in knowing the most-used and least-used phones worldwide. According to Wikipedia, the IPA charts about 140 pulmonic consonants, 80 non-pulmonic consonants, 30 co-articulated consonants, ...
17 votes
3 answers
10k views

What is the longest word without a vowel in any language? [closed]

(see edit below before you answer!) I'm not a linguist, but I've always been fascinated by the fact that in Czech, there is a 9-letter word without a single vowel: čtvrthrst. It means "quarter of ...
10 votes
7 answers
3k views

Are there any languages with the equivalent of "both" for three items?

Referring to this question it seems that English does not have the equivalent of "both" for three items. Although it would seem to be a useful word, I am unaware of its existence in any languages. Is ...
9 votes
3 answers
3k views

What makes East-Asian languages sound different than European languages?

I'm not sure if this is on-topic here. If I get reasonable amount of comments telling that it's off-topic, I'll delete my post. I wrote a code that generates random human-readable strings. Every other ...
0 votes
4 answers
166 views

What can explain the appearance of "self-made" language features if neither of languages a person speaks or learns have similar features?

I know a woman, whose native language is Kyrgyz (Turkic family) and who learned Russian as an adult (mostly, maybe she was somewhat exposed to it before as well). What striked me is that she invented ...
2 votes
0 answers
73 views

Master's degree in linguistics [closed]

I am a student of Translation Studies (Slovene-German and English-German translation) from the University of Ljubljana, currently in my final year of bachelor's degree. At the time I'm in the process ...

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