Questions tagged [cross-linguistic]

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

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34
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
37
votes
9answers
10k 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-...
5
votes
3answers
183 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?
24
votes
4answers
24k 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 "...
23
votes
9answers
9k views

The relationship between “orange” the colour and “orange” the fruit

This is something that bugged me before I studied linguists, and it still does - why is the word "orange" so often used for both the colour and the fruit cross-linguistically? Every language I've ...
11
votes
4answers
3k 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), ...
8
votes
4answers
943 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
981 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/~...
13
votes
4answers
487 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 ...
7
votes
9answers
17k 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?
6
votes
4answers
1k 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 (...
4
votes
2answers
302 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
2k 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,...
10
votes
1answer
703 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 "...
9
votes
2answers
401 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
18
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
201 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
325 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
905 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
556 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?
8
votes
6answers
16k 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
540 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 ...
5
votes
0answers
506 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 ...
3
votes
0answers
94 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
341 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k 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/ ....
1
vote
3answers
781 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 ...