Questions tagged [evolution]

Development of languages, language families, etc, through time with influences by other languages or pre-existing ones.

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91 views

Are there any known linguistic patterns that cause the verb “have” to take on this additional function?

I'm a native English speaker that has been learning Mandarin. The Mandarin equivalent to the English verb "to have" is "有". As far as I can tell these two words are a 1 to 1 ...
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99 views

Is it possible to produce a list of syntactic rules for a language?

I recently started a new job as an applied linguist engineer and one of the first tasks I was ask to do was to provide a list of syntactic rules that can produce French sentences (for an ...
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Where does the Afro branch of the Semitic language originate? [closed]

I require information to help solve a problem. The problem i am trying to solve, is the problem of the Semitic language. Semitic language Semitic languages The Semitic languages, previously also ...
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When and how did the Japanese honorific system evolve?

I know that languages, in general, can denote honorifics, especially with second person pronouns (T/V distinction, etc), and I imagine that the Japanese system of honorifics is probably an extension ...
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Are sound fronting and raising more common in evolution than their opposites?

Fronting: Back -> Central -> Front Raising: Open -> Open-mid -> Close-mid -> Close In Great Vowel Shift, it seems that almost every vowel was replaced by a further or higher vowel (or their ...
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340 views

Has the Russian way of pronunciation been affected by frost?

I am a student learning both English and Russian, and I find the Russian pronunciation to be very different from the English one. A few months ago I made a detailed post on the Linguistics SE to ...
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Do we have any evidence or research on the linguistic evolution of idioms?

Do we have any evidence or research on the linguistic evolution of idioms? For example, if two languages in the same language family have idioms with a similar meaning, is it likely that such an ...
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58 views

By what means would the root “let” evolve to “ly” in a naturalistic conlang?

I apologize for how this question may be perceived. I am casually learning linguistics with no curriculum. I can understand that this question may have many possible answers, but I am not quite sure ...
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Is linguistic change pushed by humor?

Through "meme culture," young people are inventing all sorts of new linguistic constructions purely because they think they sound funny. The interesting thing is that these jokes don't end at a ...
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1answer
104 views

Why is it thought that definite articles develop from deictic markers, and not the other way around?

I read here that "it is cross-linguistically common for definite articles to develop from deictic markers"; "deictic" referring to words such as "I" or "here" whose meaning is dependent on context. ...
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750 views

Why has the neuter gender disappeared from almost all the modern Roman languages?

Why has the neuter gender disappeared from almost all the modern Roman languages? It was completely common in Latin. And when exactly did this happen? Did it happen in Latin itself, or only after ...
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How is the rate of evolution of a language measured?

Have linguists measured the rate of evolution of a language by analyzing the rate of change of the language's words' usages over time? Is there a term for this sort of measurement? For example, ...
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How can all languages be considered equally “good” at expressing ideas when language had to evolve from something more primitive?

At the moment I am reading Guy Deutscher's "The Unfolding of Language", in which he hypothesises that modern human language began as sequences of individual words (e.g. "girl run climb tree" or "do ...
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Why not just use demonstratives instead of determiners

Along the same lines as Understanding the purpose of determiners/articles/demonstratives in language, wondering why not just use demonstratives everywhere instead of determiners. It looks like the is ...
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227 views

Why and how do some words come to mean multiple completely unrelated things?

Take an example of the English word 'just'. While it means 'morally fair' in "a just social system", it also means 'a little' in "just less than 8%". For a myriad of colourful meanings of 'just', ...
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Possible diachronic developments of th sounds

What are possible diachronic developments of th sounds? Of course, I am aware of th-stopping /ð/,/θ/ -> /d/ and of th-fronting/θ/ -> /f/. Are there other developments of ð/ and /θ/ attested in the ...
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At what point does a language become its descendant?

With the possible exceptions of constructed languages, languages seem to evolve. As a real-world example, we note that Latin has evolved into Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. What ...
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225 views

Absence of vowel combination /ou/ in Spanish

Spanish has many words containing the diphthongs /au/, /eu/ and /iu/, but the only instances of words containing /ou/ (as a diphthong or in hiatus) are a very small set of foreign loanwords: bou, ...
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Why are the Sinitic languages so different from the rest of Sino-Tibetan?

Compared to other Sino-Tibetan languages, the Chinese languages have a lot less inflection. Why is that? Did Old Chinese lose affixes and agreement systems? Or did other languages in the family get ...
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197 views

Are modern chuch Latin and classical Latin different languages?

From a (probably now-deleted comment) elsewhere on SE: [Church Latin and Classical Latin] are more or less the same languages. Some new words were added and the pronunciation changed over the years,...
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910 views

How fast is the number of languages spoken today decreasing/increasing?

Speciation and extinction From one ancestral language (e.g. latin), several languages are born (e.g. spanish, portuguese, french, italian, romanian, ...). Languages therefore speciate. Such ...
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How is it possible to reconstruct old accents of a language?

I just a video of a guy who delivered the opening lines of Romeo and Juliet in the modern received pronunciation of (British) English and then the same lines in what he claimed was the original accent ...
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What is the relationship between perfectivity and the Classical Japanese conjunctive particle “-て” (“-te”)?

In Classical Japanese, the auxiliary verb "-つ" ("-tsu") has a perfective function, indicating the completion of an action or process. According to Haruo Shirane's Classical Japanese: A Grammar, "-て" ("...
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Is this what English/Mandarin Chinese or other 21st century dominant langauges would eventually do too? (details below)(yup that's opinion based) [closed]

Umbrians, for example, continued to make inscriptions in their language for centuries after Roman annexation. But eventually the power and status of Latin prevailed, particularly after all residents ...
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What is it called when a word is used based on an extant definition which no longer actually applies? e.g. “dial” with phones

It was difficult to phrase what I mean in an accurate and precise way here. This is similar to a fossil word, but fossil words are words which have fallen out of general use except where they are ...
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291 views

Can two close languages be merged?

For example: Norwegian and Danish are very close. If for some reason, Norwegian and Danish people live together in the same place, after a certain time, they'll speak the same language, will they? ...
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Origin of Present Perfect in Romance Languages

Since in Latin no compound form of verb tense exists, AFAIK, I thought that origin of Present Perfect should be sought in Proto-Germanic also for Romance languages, but I found out that Present ...
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589 views

When does language “evolve” and when is it just wrong grammar?

Lately I seem to get into a lot of discussions about stuff that is "wrong" in a language and whether it's really wrong. In my last discussion there was a native Japanese saying you can use "verb x" ...
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Language Change over Distance

I'm building a world where I'm tracking the languages and people throughout time. So I'm starting from a single point with a single language and then expanding that out as time progresses. My basic ...
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Why does the name for Germany vary so much between languages?

I understand that there are occasionally one or two different origins for the same word, but for Germany there are at least six distinct roots found in languages of nearby countries. Why so for ...
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What do you call a visual language based on color frequency?

I was thinking about this question and answer about how cephalopods might develop a language, in this case a visual one. How would linguistics term a language that is communicated visually as a ...
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Why did English evolve to have so little inflection? [duplicate]

Consider the sentence, The boy hit the ball out of the yard. If we think of the words which make up the sentence, we realize that none of them have much inflectional possibility. The conjugation ...
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304 views

Fronting of /u/ from Latin to French

When Latin evolved to French, the vowel /u/ fronted to become /y/... except in Latin "VRSVS" /ur.sus/ > French "ours" /uʁs/, in which the vowel /u/ was kept. I do not think that the /rs/ environment ...
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Past participle agreement in French

Background (skip if you know French) In French, to generate the past tense, you use the past participle of the verb, attaching in front a conjugated form of avoir or être. For example: J'ai mangé. (I ...
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Latin to French - evolution of certain forms of “FACERE > faire”

All forms of the Latin verb "FACERE" that went to French had a "c", but it has disappeared in all forms of the French verb "faire". In FACIS > fais, the "c" completely disappeared. In FACIUNT > font,...
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Romance languages - “to mean” as “to want to say”

I have noticed this phenomenon in quite a few Romance languages, that the verb "to mean" can also be conveyed by the phrase "to want to say", regardless of the origin of the verb "to want". For ...
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50 views

Name of phenomenon of wrong segmentation

I think it would be best to illustrate by examples instead of by words: an + other → another → a + nother → a whole nother myn + Edward → my Ned les enfants /le.zɑ̃.fɑ̃/ (French) → les *zenfants → ...
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How did West Germanic languages evolve?

I'm trying to make a comprehensive phylogenetic tree of Germanic languages, with dates of divergence, and I have been unable to find details on West Germanic languages and how they diverged. I have ...
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Where does the spelling <ea> and <ee> in English come from?

I am referring to <ea> as in "meat" and <ee> as in "meet". Apparently, <ea> comes from Middle English [ɛ] and <ee> comes from Middle English [e], which come from Old English ...
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Is it realistic for the Grounders' language as depicted in “The 100” to have developed within 97 years?

In the show "The 100", the Grounders speak a language called "Trigedasleng". This language is intended to be a descendant of modern English, and we are to understand that it arose through natural ...
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545 views

How did the letter “v” come to represent the voiced labio dental fricative?

When I learned Latin we were taught classical pronunciation. When it came to the letter "v" we were taught to pronounce it as /w/. It was also explained that many people (my parents, for example) had ...
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Why there are no grammatical cases in the French language?

As far as I know, the French language is considered as a Romance language, which is derived, in its turn, from the Latin language. The last one has a rich grammatical cases system. I am interested to ...
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1answer
624 views

Where did the discussion of the language faculty between Fitch, Hauser, Chomsky and Pinker and Jackendoff terminate?

Many of you may be familiar with the debate between FHC and PJ on the language faculty. The "discussion", which became quite heated, first appeared as PJ's response to an article in Science that was ...
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399 views

Globalized mass-media deterring language or dialects differentiation

I was wondering about how strong are the region-wide or country-wide mass-media institutions (be them newspapers or TV channels) as deterrent of language or dialects differentiation. For example, a ...
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286 views

Is there a trend toward more homophones over time? What can counteract that trend?

It is my understanding (correct me if I am wrong) that many homophones develop as a result of phonemic mergers. For instance, I, like many Americans, have a "cot-caught" merger where I do not make a ...
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Are Biological and Linguistic Evolution Similar? [duplicate]

Natural selection, based on Darwin's theories, states that organisms with characteristics that benefit survival survive while the weaker, less adapted individuals are weeded out. Languages also ...
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Examples of Borrowing Languages

In the Wikipedia page History of the English language it is mentioned that English is a "borrowing language", with the implication that there are many loan words in English. What other languages may ...
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174 views

Was there an evolution of the greek alphabet in the middle-east?

I recently visited Jordan and noticed that many mosaic are commented with included text. The text seems mostly ancien greek alphabet, but it also contains non greek characters such as C, obviously ...
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Did a “cave man-style” language ever exist?

I recently had a discussion with a friend about whether a "cave man-style" language was likely to have ever existed. You know, the stereotypical "Fire bad! Need hunt, go tree-place now!" sort of ...
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241 views

What parts of speech do professional jargons tend to mint?

Many English-based jargons include newly created nouns, verbs and adjectives; and re-appropriate existing English nouns, verbs, and adjectives to new ends. I can't come up with an example of a newly ...