Questions tagged [cross-linguistic]

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

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39 votes
5 answers
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Why does speech speed seem to vary between different languages?

I feel that French and Spanish speakers speak their languages faster than English speakers do. Is this difference real, or is it just a mistake in my observation (note: I am much less familiar with ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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42 votes
9 answers
13k views

What is word order used for in "free word order" languages?

Consider languages whose case-systems allow the order of arguments to be changed without changing the arguments’ grammatical relations. (Note the 189 languages noted as having “no dominant word-...
James Grossmann's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
1k views

Does English language stand special in terms of phonology?

I am a native Russian speaker. When I am listening to songs and music in other languages, which I do not know, such as Italian, Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and even Japanese, Finnish, Kyrgyz and ...
Anixx's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
266 views

Robustness of a language to noise

not a linguist. I was just wondering if the degree of robustness of a language to environmental noise is somehow measured or studied. I presume not every language is equally robust, right?
user2042652's user avatar
31 votes
4 answers
35k views

What are the historical origins of terms for north, south, east and west?

In the course of researching the etymology of the word "Australia", I was trying to find the Latin words for north and south (the cardinal directions). I found some websites that translate north as "...
dotancohen's user avatar
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12 votes
4 answers
15k views

Using the word "dream" as hope for the future across languages

Many languages seem to use the same word for "dream" (psychological phenomenon) and "dream" (hope for the future). Quick scanning on Wiktionary gives the list: Germanic languages: Danish (drøm), ...
puzzlet's user avatar
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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. (...
Szabolcs's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is the "ll" in Albanian like the sounds in other languages?

Albanian has a digraph letter "ll" which is described as being similar to English "dark l". But how similar is it and how different? My native Australian English has dark l and to me it tends to turn ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why does stop VOT duration vary depending on place of articulation?

From the (albeit citation needed) section of the Wikipedia article on aspiration: Spanish /p t k/, for example, have voice onset times (VOTs) of about 5, 10, and 30 milliseconds, whereas English /p ...
Steven's user avatar
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14 votes
14 answers
6k views

What languages use numbers to name the week days and months?

I know in Chinese, the days in a week from Monday to Sunday are called 星期一, 星期二, ..., 星期六, 星期日, which are verbatim translated as weekday one (or 1st weekday), weekday two (or 2nd weekday), ..., ...
Isaac's user avatar
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13 votes
4 answers
579 views

Does any language use bound morphology to express the concept "less"?

In English, many adjectives support the -er ending to express a notion of exceeding: John is taller than Mary (is). Mary is smarter than John (is). Of course, you can also have the more analytic ...
Alexis Wellwood's user avatar
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?
cbrandolino's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

Gender of mixed groups defaulting to masculine – how common?

French has that rule that whenever a masculine entity is part of a group, the whole NP will default to masculine as far as agreement goes. My native language, German, also defaults gender to masculine,...
Jipí's user avatar
  • 221
11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are /tl/ and /dl/ rare onsets worldwide?

Onsets of stop+liquid are very common, but it seems like /tl/ and /dl/ are much rarer than other stop+liquid onsets, like /gl/ or /pr/. Are /tl/ and /dl/ especially rare compared to other stop+liquid ...
Joe's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How does expressing possession vary across language families?

Related: https://english.stackexchange.com/q/126519/17952 Backstory: I recently was explaining a couple of Marathi phrases to my friend, and I realized that the language doesn't have the word "...
Manishearth's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
489 views

Do distantly related languages have a lower incidence of false friends?

Are false friends less common between distantly related languages compared to closely related languages? If so, is it merely because there's fewer words that sound similar, or is it also that when ...
Golden Cuy's user avatar
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9 votes
2 answers
845 views

Cross-linguistic association between velarization and pharyngealization

Articulatorily, velarization and pharyngealization are distinct, but they are often conflated in linguistic analyses I've seen: Conflating them is common enough, I presume, that the IPA allocates the ...
Mechanical snail's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
3k views

Rules for glottal stop insertion across languages

Many languages lack phonemic glottal stops, but regularly insert them. For example: English invariably inserts glottal stops before utterance-initial vowels, and often before word-initial vowels when ...
Mechanical snail's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Are there languages with more than three degrees of comparison?

In English and other languages there are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative and superlative (e.g. tall, taller, tallest). Are there languages with more than three degrees, expressed ...
iddober's user avatar
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8 votes
6 answers
20k views

Is learning German easier for people who know Sanskrit, and vice versa?

I've heard many times that learning German is easier for those who speak Sanskrit, and vice versa. Is there any linguistic basis for this? What similarities exist between the two languages that may be ...
Manishearth's user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
4k views

How did 'cocodrilo' originate from 'crocodile'?

The English word crocodile seems to originate from the Latin crocodīlus and Ancient Greek κροκόδιλος. Indeed it has ended up very similar in several modern languages: German (Krokodile), Russian (...
Zak McKracken's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
1k views

Is there a way to prove one language is more efficient than another language for science?

English is widely regarded as the global language of science now. In China, we use simplified Chinese to write scientific textbooks, teach courses and do almost everything. Let's take the simplest ...
Ave Maleficum's user avatar
7 votes
9 answers
23k views

Which language has the biggest vocabulary?

I am thinking that it is English because it has so many borrowed words and most you French, Italian, or German words can be written in English as is. Am I right?
TIKSN's user avatar
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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 ...
user173361's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
588 views

Comparative markers coming from low degree markers ("attenuatives")? (List such languages.)

Which languages have a marker of the comparative degree of adjectives that coincides with a marker of a low degree? ...or which has evolved from such a low degree marker? (A message asking for the ...
imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
361 views

What is a good way to represent data in a multilingual dictionary? Wordnet alternatives or extensions?

I'm not a linguist so forgive my misuse of terminology... I'm looking for a data structure to represent dictionary entries. A dictionary would have words translated to other languages along with links ...
yǝsʞǝla's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
1k views

Did case systems dissappear to make embedding easier?

I edited this question in response to Karlsson's paper, "Constraints on Multiple Center-Embedding of Clauses" (Journal of Linguistics 43 (2), 2007, 365-392), linked here: http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~...
Ron Maimon's user avatar
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/ ....
Hubert Schölnast's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
119 views

Are there any languages that have words for open and closing quotation marks in speech?

It seems to me that most languages have some way of bounding quotations in written form. European languages have their apostrophe quotes and angle-brackets, while eastern Asian languages have those ...
Galactic Ketchup's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
462 views

Why is less consistent SVO more common than VSO or VOS?

"Language Change as a Source of Word Order Correlations", by Brady Clark, Matthew Goldrick, and Kenneth Konopka, is among the many sources dating back to Greenberg (1966) stating that language ...
Damian Yerrick's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Linguistics concept about meaning of words according to a context

Several linguistics questions about the meaning in context of words: How is called in linguistics the fact some words have a meaning only with other words? How is it called when a word changes ...
Quidam's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
2k views

Difference between particle and adverb in English

Some dictionaries such as Cambridge Online Dictionary defines the word particle as a word or a part of a word that has a grammatical purpose but often has little or no meaning: In the sentence "I ...
Rathony's user avatar
  • 119
1 vote
2 answers
155 views

How to build a robust transliteration scheme across languages?

So I am trying to imagine building a transliterator across languages that takes any language and converts it into IPA or some less-detailed equivalent (like a Romanization). I am thinking about ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 4,342
0 votes
4 answers
218 views

What sort of "root" patterns do languages have that don't have infinitive verbs?

I am trying to gather the "base" form of verbs across languages. The form that is used to generate all the other various verb forms. But it seems some languages don't have infinitive forms ...
Lance's user avatar
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