Questions tagged [english]

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

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4
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1answer
14k views

How can nasalized vowels in English be explained?

. . .Auntie *Ma*rge's present, see, it's here under. . . [audio source] In the audio above, [mɑː] sounds like this: [..m..] [......ɑː.....] ---- (time) ----> This sounds close to nasalized [ɑː]...
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1answer
1k views

What is this feature of British English called?

In British English you'll often hear them post-fixing expressions that American English tends to keep up front. For example, I've heard British English speakers (golf commentators in particular) say ...
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1answer
287 views

Are these all phrasal verbs?

Consider the following sentences He pushed open the door. He pushed the door open. Are the two ‘pushed open’ phrasal verbs and have ‘the door’ as their objects?
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1answer
1k views

Having trouble drawing a tree diagram

I'm having trouble drawing a tree diagram for the following sentence: Chrissy believed that the earrings she bought for Sue were real silver. In the task we have to divide the sentence into its ...
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2answers
576 views

Are English homonyms distinguishable by pitch profile?

I was told years ago by a teacher at a Carden School that they teach their students that English homonyms, especially those with diphthongs, can be told apart by the pitch profile of the vowel sound. ...
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3answers
165 views

Looking for bi-/tri-lingual dictionaries or corpora

I will be attempting to solve the problem of automatic language identification/detection (and later translation), and I'm in a need of free digital dictionaries or corpora. I'm looking for ...
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2answers
2k views

Why did English borrow more from Latin and Greek than, e.g., German did, in scientific and philosophical subjects?

Is there any known reason why the scholars of the time didn't think it easier to use calques, as for instance the Germans did for the names of some of the basic chemical elements?
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4answers
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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 ...
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0answers
927 views

Third-person singular suffix [eth] in Middle English

Related: Grammaticalization of third person singular -s in English According to responses to this question, there was a dichotomy between northern -s and southern -th in Middle English. What I am ...
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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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3answers
879 views

Where does the “t” in some words like “night” and “fight” come from?

The question is on the words with a word-final "ght", such as in "fight" and "wight", which are quite mysterious, I hope to know the connections among these "ght" words. The question comes from the ...
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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
122 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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946 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
232 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 ...
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1answer
709 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
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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 ...
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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., ...
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3answers
886 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
709 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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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 ...
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1answer
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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
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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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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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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
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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 they ...
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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
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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
9k 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
550 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
228 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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236 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
385 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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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 ...
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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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766 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
298 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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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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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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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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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 ...
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593 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 ...