Questions tagged [etymology]

The study of the history of words including their origins and the changes they've undergone through time.

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5answers
2k views

How did the first words arise?

As far as I know linguists consider language arbitrary. If so, how does etymology work? We have a word and we trace it back to its origins. Then, we find that it either comes from a different language ...
7
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1answer
386 views

What makes a language identifiable and distinguishable from other languages and their dialects?

Old English has neither common pronunciation, nor alphabet (written letters), nor most words with modern English. What made Old English to be identifiable as English? What separates a language from ...
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559 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 ...
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2answers
524 views

How do clusive forms arise?

Most non-European languages exhibit a clusivity (exclusive/inclusive) distinction. What are the common ways of developing new clusive forms and which clusivity is tied more tightly to the first person ...
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3answers
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Why does the name of the flower 'Forget-me-not' have the same meaning in other languages?

The flower forget-me-not is named "Vergissmeinnicht" in German and "Незабудка" in Russian. The meaning is the same in all three languages. Is this a coincidence?
5
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3answers
575 views

Are there languages with indefinite articles but for which the word for “one” is not related etymologically to any of the indefinite articles?

This is part of a set of three related questions but note they are each specific and distinct, they are not duplicates. In all the languages I'm familiar with that have an indefinite article, the ...
25
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9answers
10k 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 ...
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5answers
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Is etymology considered part of linguistics or a separate field outside the scope of linguistics?

Etymology is the study of the origins and history or development of words and phrases. Is it considered though to be part of the study of linguistics or is it considered to a separate field like we ...
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1answer
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What's the etymology of the Albanian word for hello, “tungjatjeta”? [closed]

In Albanian the usual greeting is "tungjatjeta", what is it derived or descended from? What are its origins?
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5answers
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Animals’ names change when we eat them: is that universal?

I rebound off a question asked on French Language & Usage: in many languages, some designations for animal meats (in its raw, uncooked and uncured form) differ from the live animal's name itself. ...
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3answers
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Is there a single origin for the connection between time and weather?

There are several families of languages where the same word can mean either a concept closely related to time or a concept closely related to weather: Romance root: French temps, Italian tempo, ...
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7answers
14k views

Why do so many core Romanian words with Latin roots come from different roots than in the other Romance languages?

Romanian is a romance language like Catalan, Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish so much of its core vocabulary is derived from Latin. Why then even in core vocabulary does Romanian so often ...
11
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2answers
409 views

What is the reasoning behind the selection of the IPA symbols?

There are many weird characters in IPA, like Glottal Stop symbol ʔ for example. Why these characters? Is there any reason for selecting them, or was their selection just arbitrary?
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7answers
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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 ...

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