Questions tagged [cross-linguistic]

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

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13
votes
4answers
464 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
334 views

Why do onsets not count for syllable weight in phonological processes?

Whether a syllable has a heavy or light rime is often important in whether it will participate in phonological processes, and whether it will receive stress. For example, in Latin, stress is on the ...
16
votes
4answers
733 views

Why do rhotics pattern together?

Looking at the IPA, many different types of sounds are given symbols based of of the Latin R,r: approximants, trills, taps/flaps; both coronal and uvular segments. Sometimes, these sounds are ...
8
votes
2answers
843 views

How are phones distributed across languages?

By making a quick comparison among several language phonologies (from various language families), I could observe that some phones occur very frequently, such as [m], [p], [b], [h], [a] and [i]. ...
8
votes
3answers
291 views

The hunger for single words

Over on English Language and Usage, there are many, many questions of the form "What is a single word for [phrase]". The poster usually seems to be very keen to use a single word — which may be ...
4
votes
2answers
570 views

Is grammar the main barrier to Japanese people understanding English?

Although a much higher proportion of Japanese people understand English than people from English-speakering countries understand Japanese, it isn't as high as the Scandinavian countries. I wouldn't ...
9
votes
2answers
391 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
169 views

Are Ivar and Álvaro etymologically the same?

I have heard that the Spanish name Álvaro is of Germanic origin. So I began wondering where it might be preserved in the Germanic languages. After some thought I came up with the Scandinavian name ...
6
votes
4answers
613 views

What language takes the longest to text?

It takes X seconds for the average English user to send an average-length text message via phone. What language is the most effort-intensive to text? How about to write? Is there one language that ...
7
votes
2answers
354 views

Are there any online databases of kinship terms across languages?

Related to a question at ELU, I am interested in doing a comparative analysis of kinship terms in various languages. What would help me with this is an inventory of terms for individual languages. ...
24
votes
4answers
23k 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 "...
12
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3answers
754 views

Is there any language that doesn't express Tense but allows “aspectual coercion”?

Mandarin Chinese appears to be a language that may not express tense (at least in the way I will define below), and it does not seem to allow aspectual coercion. By not expressing Tense I mean, such ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Are the Finnish pronouns related to their Indo-European counterparts?

Although not belonging to the Indo-European family, Finnish has personal pronouns that resemble (to a layperson, at least) the corresponding pronouns in Indo-European languages. For example, the ...
5
votes
3answers
2k 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 + ...
6
votes
2answers
401 views

How did English and Portuguese develop the construction “have+pp”?

Native Portuguese speakers (myself included) often have a hard time dealing with the English present perfect tense-aspect. In English, the present perfect is used for expressing past actions with ...
9
votes
5answers
357 views

What are the different ways in which languages express the notion of passivity?

In English, the passive is expressed by the use of an auxiliary and past participle. The agent is demoted to an optional by-phrase, and the theme/patient is promoted to the subject position. Rome ...
7
votes
1answer
492 views

Which languages have zero markers of comparative degree that coexist with non-zero comparative markers?

The zero comparative marker and the non-zero one should be more or less interchangeable. (The etymology of the non-zero marker doesn't matter.) (A message asking to list such languages was originally ...
5
votes
0answers
468 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
363 views

Are there languages which use the negation of 'odd' to denote 'even'?

This question is influenced by another one I found on the German SE, "Warum nennt man in Deutsch die Zahlen 0, 2, 4 … “gerade” Zahlen?". It asks "Why call Germans the numbers 0, 2, 2 "even". The ...
23
votes
9answers
8k 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 ...
34
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
5
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
580 views

Hierarchy of morphology, auxiliaries, and suppletion of verbal accidents?

I would like to make a hierarchy of verbal accidents that would have the following features. For any two accidents in the hierarchy, if a language marks only one of them by lexical suppletion, it ...
18
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6answers
2k views

Are the Japanese and Korean subject particles known to be related in any way, including by Sprachbund?

Japanese and Korean have strikingly similar grammars but whether they are related or not is an open question. Both languages have a particle to mark the grammatical subject of a sentence and in fact ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Examples of Phonological Variation / Morphological Structure Interacton

English coronal stop deletion, or TD-Deletion, is a variable process whereby word final /t/ and /d/ in clusters are deleted. soft -> sof A phonological rule for TD-Deletion could be given as: {t,...
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 ...