Questions tagged [english]

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

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3
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0answers
146 views

Is the Figure-Ground Theory adaptable for inversion in subjunctive condition clauses in English?

People use Figure-Ground Theory to explain inversions. By putting ground before figure, emphasis focus changes. But how to explain inversion in condition clauses for subjunctive mood? In English, if ...
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1answer
115 views

Analysis of “go there”, “turn left”, “move back”, etc

How are phrases such as go there, turn left, move back etc. analysed syntactically? are they copula + predicate, verb + object, or something else? Neither of these solutions seem correct to me, so ...
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2answers
914 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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5answers
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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 ...
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3answers
211 views

How distinctive must a phoneme be?

How much of a functional load must a phone carry to be considered its own phoneme? For example, my idiolect of English has a marginally distinctive glottal stop. However, it exists distinctively in ...
9
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1answer
579 views

Etymology of the word “sport”

I wonder what is the etymology of the word sport. Vasmer says that it is from disport "amusement", a contraction from Middle English disporten from Old French desporter "to take away", "to distract ...
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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 ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Is there a computational method to syllabify English words?

There are straightforward ways to convert English words to phonemes via a dictionary that contains such information. However, is there a way to automatically convert English text into syllables? I.e., ...
4
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3answers
795 views

Why does “g” in Middle English “boga” become “w” in Modern English “bow”?

With the help of Wiktionary, we know two useful Midlle English etymologies of the word "bow". bow-1 From Old English boga, from Proto-Germanic *bugô. Cognate with Dutch boog, German Bogen, Swedish ...
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1answer
700 views

When do abbreviations of profanity like WTF and RTFA cease to be profane i.e. socially acceptable?

Discussing recently abbreviations such as WTF, TFA, and OMG as being more commonly used in American English writing (or messaging) as forms of expression. There seems to be some debate over if or ...
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6answers
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What languages are the most similar to English?

I speak English and Bengali with similar proficiency, at least in the 'lower' registers of the languages. Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, despite having ...
11
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1answer
665 views

Diachronic devoicing of initial lenis plosives in English

I get the impression that in the "classical Received Pronunciation" of English during phonetician Jones's era, the lenis plosives /b/, /d/, /g/ (and probably the affricate /dʒ/ as well) in initial ...
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3answers
307 views

Is it possible to create English phonetics of a given word with correct morphology, and phonology?

Dictionaries contain near 80,000 entries (less or more than that) and most of those entries have phonetic pronunciations written beside them. However, English might have more than a million words, if ...
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12answers
20k 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 ...
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2answers
3k views

How is Nigerian Standard English categorized?

From what I can tell, the only nontrivial difference between Nigerian Standard English and the catalog of commonly referenced dialects of English is that Nigerian Standard English has a different ...
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8answers
7k views

Why do people singing in English sound like Americans?

This is just my observation, but it seems like Standard American English lacks any distinct accent when speaking. Listen to almost any person singing with an accent, and they sound like any American ...
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1answer
225 views

What markers can one use to automatically detect a prepositional phrase in an English sentence?

I'm currently working on a project for which I have a need to identify certain aspects of a sentence. What markers can I use to algorithmically detect a prepositional phrase in a sentence? Obviously, ...
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513 views

Small English parser written in Java

I need an English parser written in Java with a small memory/processing input. I have used the Stanford parser, but it is rather heavy. I am also considering using the link grammar parser, which is ...
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2answers
2k views

Why IPA does not indicate “soft” consonants in English?

I am a native Russian speaker. Sometimes I encounter English speakers who are trying to learn Russian and wonder how to pronounce "soft" consonants. At the same time while learning English I noticed ...
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4answers
1k views

Is there a term for when words that sound like antonyms are actually synonyms?

Seeded grapes are actually seedless An inflammable object is really flammable It seems to me that, superficially, the use of those affixes make the words sound like they should be antonyms, but ...
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7answers
28k views

Is rhyming a uniquely English language construct?

I will freely admit that this question is based in ignorance of languages other than English (well, American). But do other languages have the concept of rhyming? Thinking back to my few Spanish ...
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2answers
63k 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: ...
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8answers
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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 ...
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2answers
8k views

Status of “Mmm” or “Hmm”

I would like to know whether nasally produced sounds like "Mmmm" or "Hmmm" constitute verbal or non-verbal language. Essentially I am a language testing professional, operating within very narrowly ...
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1answer
527 views

Why exactly is *“I Am America (And So Can You!)” ungrammatical?

Stephen Colbert wrote a book entitled “I Am America (And So Can You!)”. As discussed in a question on English Language and Usage, the title is an intentionally strange way of saying "I am America, and ...
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1answer
227 views

Is there an automatic way of identifying transitive verbs in Computational Linguistics?

Is there any straightforward way of identifying transitive verbs (or sentences containing transitive constructions) in an BrE English text? I've looked into semantic shallow parsers, such as Semafor, ...
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0answers
233 views

Patterns of accent changes by non-native English speakers

I am looking for a list of 'accent changes', or pronunciation inaccuracies, non-native English speakers commonly make when speaking English words. The list would obviously be native language specific ...
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1answer
381 views

Response to 'Thanking' Speech Acts?

Just wondering if anyone is familiar with any research that touches on this. It seems to be a largely untapped topic, other than Wooh-yun Jung's (1994) work.
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3answers
3k views

English co-compounds? Is bittersweet a co-compound?

I'm looking for English or other standard European language co-compounds, and for other common examples. I came across "bittersweet" but I'm not sure if it's really a co-compound. It has a ...
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2answers
2k views

Do these past-participle phrases function as a predicative adjunct or noun post-modifier?

In the sentences below, the phrases in italic have the direct object "him" as a predicand, and would, I think, be analyzed as predicative (depictive?) adjunct, according to the terminology used in ...
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3answers
2k views

Is a Gerund-Participial a “clause adjunct” or a “noun/adjective post-modifier”?

I'm not sure how the "doing my homework" phrase is to be analyzed in the following sentences: I felt good doing my homework. I had trouble doing my homework. I needed help doing my homework. ...
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2answers
727 views

Is the commutative CFG in the mathematical linguistics literature?

I am shocked that Linguists have not given a reasonably small canonical computationally precise representation of any natural language yet, so I wrote a recent EL&U post to explain how one does ...
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2answers
296 views

Are there papers/books about complex sentence formation in English?

I'd like to transform complex sentences into one set of simple sentences. I can't find any solution, so I want to study formation of complex sentences. What are the most comprehensive and most ...
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3answers
1k views

What are examples of non-V2 pattern in Modern English?

What is an example of a modern English clause that does not follow the verb-second (V2) word order?
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2answers
232 views

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in “Bought a nice house, he did.”?

In which varieties of English is it common to front predicates as in the following sentence? Bought a nice house, he did. In which pragmatic contexts is this done in these varieties?
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2answers
5k views

Cohesive vs. coherent

Is the following sentence cohesive or coherent? Or both? Ali loves fish. He lives in the north. It might be of interest that cities are next to the sea in the north.
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1answer
173 views

Textual Commitment

I am working on question answering problem. The major task is to understand text and convert complex sentences to simpler sentences i.e Textual Commitments using Conventional implicature and ...
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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 ...
4
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2answers
583 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 ...
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3answers
593 views

What is the distribution of English dialects that pronounce -day as -[deɪ] vs -[di]?

The days of the week in English, such as Monday, are sometimes pronounced with a final -[deɪ] and sometimes with a final -[di]. For example, Merriam-Webster gives Monday as \ˈmən-(ˌ)dā, -dē\ and ...
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4answers
1k 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 ...
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3answers
30k views

Why is “Aurora Borealis” from Greek, but “Aurora Australis” from Latin?

In astronomy we have the Aurora Australis in the south and the Aurora Borealis in the north. According to Wikipedia, auster is in fact the Latin equivalent of the Greek νότος, or southern wind. ...
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2answers
1k 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.
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4answers
2k views

Can prepositional phrases with “of” ever be adjuncts to nouns, or only complements in English? If they can't be adjuncts, why?

This question came up while doing syntax homework. It seems to me that prepositional phrases with "of" can only ever be complements to nouns, not adjuncts. The basis for my conclusion was that, while ...
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2answers
512 views

Why does complementiser drop not occur in negative English sentences?

English that can often be dropped from a sentence. (1) I think (that) she can come. (2) I don't think (that) she can come. In some negative constructions, complementiser dropping sounds marked....
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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 ...
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4answers
2k views

Why are certain there-sentences infelicitous in English?

The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language states that the first three of the following four excerpts are semantically or pragmatically anomalous (to give that term some context, it cites We ...
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2answers
1k views

Distinguishing between epistemic and circumstantial readings (without recourse to temporality)?

How can you/should you empirically distinguish between epistemic and circumstantial readings of modals? I (at least think I) understand how the two readings are supposed to be distinguished ...
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4answers
437 views

What is the name of the phoneme produced in an upper-class Briton's pronunciation of the word “Duke”? What's different in the articulation?

This question has been copied directly from English Language & Usage where it received plenty of interest but the answers had lots of flaws and no resolutions was reached. It was originally asked ...
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1answer
12k views

When does copula absence occur in African-American Vernacular English?

In what contexts can the zero copula occur in African-American Vernacular English? What rules govern its use—for example, what makes she runnin' more likely to be acceptable than ?she a runner? Some ...