Questions tagged [english]

A Germanic language, which originated from England, and is considered the leading language in international communication.

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26
votes
8answers
14k views

Why did English lose declensions while German retained them?

Why did (or more specifically what caused) English lose declensions whilst they were retained in German? I ask as I have recently been reading into the various Germanic languages and it struck me that ...
9
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4answers
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 ...
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2answers
138 views

Name of rule for whether compounds should be written with a space or not

What is the name of the rule that describes why some words are written together (e.g. "strawberry") and others apart (e.g. "street name")?
29
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5answers
8k views

Is future tense in English really a myth?

Does English really have two tenses - present and past? Some linguists argue that it is a Latinate fallacy to think that English has three tenses. Some English professors and even some native ...
5
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2answers
527 views

Why is 'be' sometimes the auxiliary verb for the present perfect?

1. Why do these 16 verbs require être as the auxiliary verb, to form the passé composé in French? 2. Abbreviated as DMPRRS, these 6 (of the 16) are ambitransitive. When transitive, their auxiliary ...
14
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2answers
72k views

The Origin of the Word 'God'

I originally posted this a while ago on my blog, but someone recently suggested that I pose it as a question here. A brief Wikipedia search on the origin of the word ‘god’ reveals the following: ...
8
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4answers
6k views

Correct syllabification in (American) English

I need to figure out what the proper syllabification of words in American English is and why. PLEASE NOTE: I am interested in syllabification from a phonetic point of view, not in terms of hyphenation/...
5
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3answers
4k views

Ergative Verbs and some discussion about them

I know what ergative verb is - Consider the following sentences - I opened the door. The door was opened (by me). The door opened. The verb open is a transitive verb in sentence #1, and sentence #...
4
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4answers
2k views

How many of all possible English words are actually in use (have meaning)?

If we consider that there are phonological observations as to what is an English word and what probably isn't, one could come up with a dictionary of "all possible" English words, i.e. all words that ...
4
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3answers
3k views

English words which are both verbs and adjectives

A question about UI design led me to speculate about English words which are both a verb and an adjective. My answer to the question addresses this linguistics issue as the root of the UI issue. I ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Why are only yes/no questions asked with a rising tone?

There is a rule used almost subconsciously by almost all English speakers (and I'm sure it applies to many other languages too) which is that yes/no questions are asked ending with a rising tone, and ...
5
votes
1answer
204 views

What were allophone rules for [r] in Old English and Middle English?

I gather that [r] (trill) was realized as [ɹ] in different dialects of Old English and Middle English, but when [r] was used, was it an allophone? In other words, did [r] vary predictably with [ɹ] (...
1
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1answer
84 views

Homographs non-homophones

Homophones that are not homographs are common in languages like English. This arises because several letters (or diphthongs) can have the same pronunciation. But where do the (less common) homographs ...
0
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4answers
866 views

Why is the “long i” sound in English written /aɪ/?

The "long i" sound in English, as in "fight" is usually written /aɪ/, so fight = /faɪt/. But /a/ is the sound in "hat", and /ɪ/ is the sound in "hit". When I say the two together it doesn't sound ...
69
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12answers
23k views

What characteristics are unique to English (or at least rare among language as a whole)?

After wondering about this today at work, I turned to the Internet. A short piece that focuses on pronunciation points toward "none". I've scoured ELU and Google (perhaps not as thoroughly or ...
25
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2answers
44k views

English text corpus for download

I need a free English language corpus with at least 15 million words. The corpus should contain one or more plain text files. There should be no tagging, just raw text. The corpus should be free. I ...
20
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8answers
15k views

Do absolute synonyms exist?

By absolute synonyms, I mean words (in the same language) that are interchangeable in all situations. There can't be differences in register, meaning, or emotional value. Is there material that ...
18
votes
10answers
8k views

What makes a non-native English speaker sound foreign?

I'm not a native speaker. However, I have tried a lot during last 10 years to learn English at a high level of proficiency and to become fluent in conversation. However, when I talk to some of my ...
40
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3answers
10k views

Is English tonal for some words, like “permit”?

I have heard the difference between tone and intonation described in the following way: Tone is when the pitch of a word determines its meaning. Intonation is when the pitch of a word conveys its ...
29
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5answers
6k views

Why does English not have a cognate of words like heter, in Swedish, or llama, in Spanish, etc?

This is something that I think is present in most languages. If I were to present my self in English, I might say: My name is DisplayName. Where as in other languages I can both say: Mitt namn ...
18
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7answers
5k views

Is spoken English more efficient than other languages?

Oftentimes while watching a subtitled foreign film, I find that reading the subtitles aloud (usually in my head) at the same1 pace as the speaker takes less time than what's spoken in the native ...
7
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2answers
6k views

Impossible bigrams in the English Language

Is there a list that contains every two letter combination that is not found in any English words? I have searched for a very long time and found nothing. It would also be useful if I had three letter ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Are there any statistics or web services for n-grams of frequent English words?

I found this for six common subjects. But it doesn't contain the complete statistics about all common English words.
6
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1answer
1k views

Apical postalveolar approximant [ɹ̺] and retroflex approximant [ɻ]: What is the difference?

English [ɹ] has two realizations: apical and bunched (aka molar). ExtIPA (extensions to the IPA) thus recommends the use of [ɹ̺] and [ɹ̈] to differentiate the two. But I also often see English /r/ ...
1
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1answer
7k views

Stress rules in English adjective-noun combinations

In English adjective-noun combinations the noun commonly carries the main stress: a big HOUSE a beautiful DOG An exception to this rule are adjective-noun combinations that are treated as one unit, ...
20
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8answers
4k views

What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

This is on purpose not a very concrete question, I simply want to know some interesting properties other languages have that English doesn't, or features you even think English ought to have, this can ...
10
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5answers
13k views

What is the past tense of 'yeet'?

Yeet (/ji:t/) is a recently coined verb in English that seems to have taken on the characteristics of a strong verb, as seen in this hilarious urban dictionary definition. In English, the strong ...
8
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3answers
12k views

Does sample text exist that includes most English sounds represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet?

My understanding of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is that it aims to provide a set of letter-based values that represent and map to fundamental sounds present in human languages. My ...
8
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2answers
2k views

Is the concept of 'long vowel' still relevant in modern English phonology?

It seems to me that despite the fact that Middle English long vowels have long since shifted dramatically, their descendants still pattern like long vowels in modern English. Since there's really very ...
6
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3answers
3k views

The “writer / rider” distinction

In some dialects of English (for example: General American), “writer” is said to be pronounced differently from “rider” due to the following two phonological rules (done in this order): Vowels are ...
6
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5answers
2k views

What part of speech is 'found' in this sentence?

I have recently applied for an English teaching position in Brazil and had to take a test in which they asked: Choose the correct part of speech for 'FOUND' in the setence "A whale found dead on the ...
5
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6answers
674 views

Are English modal verbs tensed or non-tensed?

My assumption: English modal verbs are non-tensed (i.e. we don't say shoulds or shoulded). Yet, in X' bar theory, modal verbs appear under the inflection node I', precisely where we find the ...
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2answers
257 views

English stress, abstract analysis

I am reading introductory phonology by Bruce Hayes, in chapter 12 he proposed an abstract analysis for English stress.Based on his proposed a word like cassette has been through a process like below: ...
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4answers
3k views

Is English the most descriptive language?

I only know English as a language aside from classes in Spanish and French and the typical stuff learned through movies and the like. To people who are multilingual, is English the most descriptive ...
15
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5answers
1k views

Are Written and Spoken English distinct languages?

First of all, I am not a linguist, but I was thinking the other night that being literate was almost the same as being bilingual. My reasoning is that sign language is distinct from written and ...
10
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1answer
787 views

Feminisation of men's language?

I was wondering whether there has been (generally) a feminisation of "men's language". Lakoff's claims in "women's and men's language" are almost half a century old and there have been contradictory ...
9
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4answers
2k views

Why in English words is [o] followed by [ʊ]?

The close-mid back rounded vowel is, according to Wikipedia, "usually diphthongized to [oʊ]". Examples: row, also. In fact, in the Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary I didn't see o ...
8
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2answers
3k views

Is the word “here” a preposition?

In a related question, I got entangled in a debate whether the word "here" (which I would classify readily as an adverb) is in reality a preposition. I am curious which modern analyses find ...
7
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5answers
2k views

Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
7
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5answers
2k views

Biggest freely available English corpus?

Any help on finding the biggest freely available English corpus that can be used on research? So far I have found OANC with 15 M words.
6
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3answers
364 views

Structural ambiguity and 'because'

I am trying to analyze Arthur doesn't discipline his children because he loves them to show the structural ambiguity using phrase structure rules that precede X' rules, and that because is ...
5
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2answers
941 views

How does the word “thunder” get the letter “d”?

thunder O.E. þunor, from P.Gmc. thunraz (cf. O.N. þorr, O.Fris. thuner, M.Du. donre, Du. donder, O.H.G. donar, Ger. Donner "thunder"), from PIE (s)tene- "to resound, thunder" (cf. Skt. tanayitnuh "...
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3answers
20k views

always | never | “all the time” - what kind of words are these?

always never "all the time" They aren't 'expletives', but they express a non-expiry. What word would describe this type of word? Context : he never brings me flowers; he's always late; you criticise ...
5
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2answers
743 views

Does “and” come from the PIE word for “and”?

From the etymology of and: Old English and, ond, originally meaning "thereupon, next," from Proto-Germanic *unda (cf. Old Saxon endi, Old Frisian anda, Middle Dutch ende, Old High German enti, ...
5
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2answers
216 views

Is “indirect object” syntactically definable or useful, in English or generally?

In traditional English grammar, we're taught that phrases like those boldfaced below are "indirect objects": I gave the book to Ted. I gave Ted the book. But this appears to be based on semantics (...
5
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1answer
103 views

Are there non-rhotic English speakers who distinguish between [ən] and syllabic [n]?

I'm aware that [ən] can be reduced to [n̩] in some circumstances. Does this possibility also apply to [ən] that comes from former [ɚn] in non-rhotic English dialects? I have had limited contact with ...
5
votes
3answers
568 views

Do some dialects of English have a liquid vowels, such as /ɹ/ and /ɫ/?

Given that there are some languages that treat /r/ and /l/ as a vowel, such as Czech and Hindi, I am wondering how come the same isn't true in some varieties of English. As a native English speaker ...
4
votes
0answers
753 views

Does pre-fortis clipping only operate within a syllable? If not, what is its actual scope?

English is known to have a phenomenon of "pre-fortis clipping": in certain contexts, vowel and sonorant phonemes before a fortis/voiceless consonant are realized with shorter duration than the same ...
4
votes
1answer
449 views

Is /ɡ/ Germanic and /dʒ/ French in English ge-/gi- words?

I've recently noticed that in English words starting with "ge-" or "gi-", when the "g" is pronounced /ɡ/, they tend to be etymologically Germanic, while the words where the "g" is pronounced /dʒ/ tend ...
4
votes
2answers
753 views

When did Aspirated Consonants appear in English?

As stated here : (in English) "The voiceless stops /p/, /t/, /k/ are typically aspirated when they begin a stressed syllable, becoming [pʰ], [tʰ], [kʰ] [...]" Since these consonants weren't ...