Questions tagged [english]

A Germanic language, which originated from England, and is considered the leading language in international communication. For non-linguistic questions about the English language, visit one of our sister sites English Language & Usage or English Language Learners.

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Correlation between the English -wise and German -weise suffixes

The English meaning of -wise is the following. -wise adverb combining form Definition of -wise (Entry 5 of 5) 1a : in the manner of crabwise fanwise b : in the position or direction of ...
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Why did the Latin word marmor became French marbre (which is in present day English marble)?

I would like to know what process suffered the Latin word marmor when it was borrowed in French and became marbre. I know that the process from French marbre to English marble is dissimilation, i.e. ...
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Do we have evidence of the transition from -mentum to -ment?

Several English words end in -ment: augment, document, movement, moment, segment, etc. According to several dictionaries, the English -ment suffix is in many cases traced to the French -ment, which in ...
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Why are English diphthongs not analysed as a vowel and a glide?

The English language has the diphthongs /eɪ aɪ ɔɪ aʊ əʊ/, analysed differently in some accents. They end in sounds that are very close to [j] and [w], yet are analysed as unsyllabic [ɪ] and [ʊ]. Since ...
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What are some rules that native speakers instinctively know about English that non-native speakers usually don't? [closed]

For example, the famous tweet quoting Forsyth, [A]djectives in English absolutely have to be in this order: opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose Noun. So you can have a lovely little ...
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Why /əl/ in English sounds like [o]?

I am not a native English speaker. Recently i study some phonetics to improve my english pronunciation (and also french which i am currently studying). I noticed many words with phoneme /əl/ sound ...
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16 votes
8 answers
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Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

In this video, Lily Tomlin (an American) doesn't really understand what Kevin Bridges is saying at all with his Scottish accent. She also says she doesn't fully understand what Chris Hemswoth (an ...
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AmE feature related to American multiculturalism?

I speak with a (General) American accent. Native non-American English speakers sometimes tell me that "you pronounce every single syllable in every word." I've also stumbled upon very ...
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3 answers
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The A sound in Ask and At

I was reading a book on rhetoric today and it had the following table of pronounciation: The thing I find confusing about this table is that I pronounce the A in "ask" and "at" ...
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1 answer
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How to recognize Heads [closed]

I'm reading "Introduction to English linguistics" and in the chapter 4, there is a paragraph that I don't understand : The other crucial cluster of properties of heads concern their ...
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3 answers
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Is there any other Phonetic notation other than IPA? [duplicate]

I'm wondering is there any other Phonetic notation other than IPA — that is easy to understand by Native English speakers
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We typically say rates are 'hiked' and cuts are 'swingeing' - is there a term to describe this?

You never really hear of interest rates 'going up', they're always 'hiked'.. and government cuts are rarely 'deep' or 'severe',. they're 'swingeing'. Is there a word/term for either this use of ...
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1 vote
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OVS in English dialogue

English is an SVO language. When writing dialogue, especially in literature, writing a sentence with the speech first is considered grammatically correct. Take for example this extract from Ursula K ...
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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 ...
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Does English have animate/inanimate distinction?

I know we have the "'S" genitive and the "X of Y" but I don't exactly understand the rules of using these even as a native English speaker and I'm unsure if English makes other ...
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7 votes
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What linguistic sources discuss doubled -ed in -edly and -edness words?

Some linguists have written analyses of "double -er suffixation" in English, in formations from particle verbs such as fix up > fixer upper. For example: "Double -er suffixation in ...
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1 answer
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Do constructs like "going to do" and "ir a hacer" share a common origin?

I'm curious about the linguistic background between these phrases because they don't make sense word-for-word in either language, but they work almost identically. Wikipedia says that a similar form ...
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9 votes
5 answers
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Which language is more complex, English or French? Is it even possible to objectively measure a language's complexity?

OK, so I'm a native English speaker who learned French as a teenager and I have a friend who is French and learned English as a teenager (so the opposite). The other day he was telling me how easy ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Singular countable nouns that don't require determinatives?

The English determiners wikipedia page says The determinative function is typically obligatory in a singular, countable, common noun phrase (compare I have *a* new cat to I have new cat). and In ...
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1 answer
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Is Hebrew more efficient and more grammatically logical than English? [closed]

Grammatically logical - this is possible, vs zeh yachol lhiyot. Let's break down the English way for a moment -- the words don't actually connect with each other in a logical sequence. 'This is' has ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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How did the j get the dʒ sound?

The j getting the dʒ is very weird, how did the letter j get the dʒ sound? Why not a /j/ sound as in "yes"?
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4 votes
2 answers
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When teaching word stress to ESL students, is it worth teaching secondary stress placement?

I often incorporate stress training into my classes as it is very important for intelligibility (as better awareness of stress placement will give students clearer speaking and better listening skills)...
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1 vote
3 answers
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With the English sibilant 's' (voiceless alveolar sibilant) could the tip of the tongue be touching the back of the upper teeth?

The wikipedia's Voiceless alveolar sibilants section states: The voiceless alveolar sibilant is a common consonant sound in vocal languages. It is the sound in English words such as sea and pass, and ...
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Is derivation through valency change common cross-linguistically?

Sorry if this question doesn't make much sense, it's still a half-formed shower thought at this point. In my linguistics class yesterday we were going over ergative-absolutive alignment, and the ...
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2 votes
4 answers
207 views

Why words in many romance languages don't have more than one part of speech, unlike words in English

I have recently just realized that in English, sometimes the same word will have different part of speech depends on the way you pronounce it. For example, record can be a noun or a verb depends on ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Etymology of words in English translations

I posted this in English but they suggested this site. The question was about the English language because of roughly 50/50 Germanic/Latin roots. Anyhow here it is... I have often daydreamed about ...
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Does "Inchoative Construction" mean constructions with intransitive inchoative verbs?

The following is the sentence I extracted from a book, Binding Theory, written by Daniel Burning. The fact that a language like English, which lacks a simple reflexive, has extremely few reflexive ...
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What are the sounds that define the r-controlled vowels?

For all the r-colored vowels like ɑr, ɔr, ɛr, and ɪr, I keep hearing this extra vowel sound in between the vowel and the r. This isn’t the case for ər/ɜr since this just sounds like the r sound to me, ...
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5 votes
1 answer
123 views

On the use of possessive pronouns instead of definite articles in AmE

Consider the following examples: I have to go now, my Uber driver has arrived. So, have you already learned your ABCs? I now will put my eggs into the dry ingredients. All of these are examples of a ...
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1 answer
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Korean tense/lax vs. English tense/lax

Looking at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_phonology and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_phonology, English has "tense" sounds: "p", "t", "ch", and &...
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Why can't you treat prepositions as simply noun/verb modifiers (i.e. as adjectives or adverbs)?

I am working on a conlang and have (for many months/years?) been perplexed by the prepositions. They standout because they are extremely hard to pinpoint what they actually mean, unlike a noun or verb,...
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Why is there a proxy reading in this sentence from Reuland (2011)?

For English, himself can function as proxy reading, for instance, One of the well-known properties of reflexive pronouns is their ability to have "proxy readings." This is illustrated in (1) ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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How does "own" affect binding?

How does own affect binding relationships? I am studying binding theory as it applies to English. I have learned that own can influence the binding relations. For example: (1) John is his boss. The ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Why do people with a British accent make an "r" sound at the end of words ending in an "ah" sound

I'm American so I've seen this in so many movies and just wondering, what's up with that? Example: We will not need those blankets in Russia-r.
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2 answers
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Why do we spell 'aaaah' with an 'h' at the end?

In English, we generally spell 'Ah', 'Aah', or 'Aaaaaah' (as it seems, any number of a's is possible) with an 'h' at the end. Someone just asked me why and I have been searching all over the internet ...
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5 votes
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What are the stress-distinguished minimal pairs in English?

I already know of two non-homograph ones: insight and billow. Insight /ˈɪnsʌɪt/ is phonemically identical to incite /ɪn'sʌɪt/ except for where the stress falls (first syllable in insight, second ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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"Ser"/"estar" acquisition in bilingual children (English-Spanish)

For the last week I've been wondering about how bilingual children (English-Spanish) might struggle with the acquisition of the "ser"/"estar" copulas, considering how these are ...
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1 answer
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When are prepositional phrases sibling to leaf nodes?

In syntax trees in English, can prepositional phrases, modifying either verbs or nouns, ever be sibling to the verb or noun itself for example and not a verb phrase/noun phrase? I've heard the correct ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Do other languages using the Latin alphabet borrow diacritics from one another?

I've always found the convention of borrowing diacritics on foreign names and occasionally words (although the latter is less standard) from other languages with Latin alphabets in written English to ...
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6 votes
3 answers
417 views

Why do two English personal pronouns — "you" and "it" — lack an objective case?

Most English person pronouns have an objective case — I/me, we/us, thou/thee, he/him, she/her, they/them, who/whom. But "you" and "it" have no such form. Did they every have one? ...
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4 votes
1 answer
223 views

In English are there any rules to prefer the word order "rock, paper, scissors" to name the game?

Reading some buzzfeed article I saw someone claiming that in their part of the world they say "paper, scissors, rock" As the article mentions, this seems crazy wrong to most Americans and to ...
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1 answer
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what is the headword in this sentence? [closed]

"Before the Saturday kidnappings, professional associations and businesses in Port-au-Prince had called for an indefinite strike." How many noun groups are in the bold clause? and what is ...
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2 votes
1 answer
139 views

Consonant clusters in English - how many exist exactly?

I am really struggling to find a complete list of all consonant clusters that are possible in the English language. Can anyone point me in the direction of one? I have spent hours looking online with ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is it called when a verb takes its "logical" or "usual" object as its grammatical subject?

This usually occurs for objects that are used by a person, and in English often feels to me like an Americanism. Examples: The sofa sits five. The wine drinks very smoothly. The car drives very ...
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4 votes
1 answer
202 views

Why we do not usually say "who did eat the apples" while "What did she eat" is perfect to use? [closed]

I noticed that in English, it is incorrect to say "Who did eat the apples?" but it is correct to say "who ate the apples?" It would be very helpful if you can give me some clues ...
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Is the rule that "Lists with three items sound better" specific to English?

For example, the sentence "Todd liked crunchy apples, brown bananas, and small oranges" sounds better than "Todd liked crunchy apples and brown bananas". Generally, if you're ...
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4 votes
1 answer
149 views

When / why can adjective phrases come after nouns in English?

When and why can adjective phrases come after nouns in English, if at all? So, firstly: I am not talking about special usages like poetry or drama etc. where people may say things like "The night ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Pre-fortis clipping of /n/

Pre-fortis clipping is usually defined as operating on vowels. See, for example, John Wells’s blog post on the subject. But at least in my idiolect (Northern English-influenced RP), in the environment ...
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Native Pronunciation of -rr- in the place name Wirral as voiced alveolar stop -d-

I was surprised to hear the Native Pronunciation of -rr- in the place name Wirral as voiced alveolar stop/tap -d- in this video as spoken by a native centenarian at the time point 0:47: Life Lessons ...
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