Questions tagged [evolutionary-linguistics]

Study of the origin and development of languages.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

How can unrelated language families exist after the evolution of language?

What I mean is this: Archeologically and genetically speaking, most indigenous peoples of North and South America (namely, all but the ones descending from those who brought the Na-Dené and Eskimo-...
Cecilia's user avatar
  • 229
1 vote
3 answers
277 views

In english, what's the origin of pronouncing the `e` as /i/ or /e/?

As instance, the sentence let it be is pronounced /lɛt it bi:/ . And in general, the e seems to me pronounced just arbitrarily. Does it come from Germanic languages? During language evolution, did ...
blue_lama's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
75 views

Is there a notion of ordering the simple voice sounds a human makes in terms of difficulty, evolutionarily speaking? [closed]

I am working on a conlang amongst other things, and am trying to imagine how the stone-tool-making apes might have slowly figured out they can make certain sounds with their mouths. There's a lot to ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 4,338
1 vote
1 answer
101 views

Are there any case-based languages in which the modal verbs do not change the verb they control to the infinitive form?

I have come to realize that in all the European languages I know of, the modal verbs change the verb they control to the infinitive form. These languages are all case-based (Spanish, Danish, English, ...
Foolish Lemon's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Vanishing of cases: general trend or specific to indo-European family?

Does vanishing of cases reflect a general trend across the languages or is this a false impression that one gets from the most Indo-European languages, like English and the Romance languages? A ...
Roger V.'s user avatar
  • 982
0 votes
0 answers
45 views

Who says that words historically evolve from concrete meanings to more abstract meanings?

Conventional wisdom says that when a word has two meanings -- one concrete/tangible and one abstract -- the concrete meanings is the older one, and the more abstract one is the newer meaning that ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
1k views

Timescale for language divergence at ~10,000 years: Polynesian languages vs languages of the Americas?

I want to make it clear from the start that I'm not any kind of expert in linguistics or history, which is why I'm asking this question here. (Perhaps it's because of my physics background that I'm ...
Jim Pivarski's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
95 views

Comparing two cognate lists, how do I determine validity?

A man created a list of 406 words, place and tribe names that he transcribed into English (Roman alphabet) and placed them side-by-side with ancient Hebrew names (that were likewise transcribed) to ...
Alfred's user avatar
  • 11
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Was the word "Jew" originally a racial slur?

The English ethnonyms "Jew" and "Jewish" originate from the Biblical Hebrew "Yehudi" (יהודי, meaning "Judahite," "Judean," or "one from the ...
Loewian's user avatar
  • 149
1 vote
1 answer
45 views

Phoneme production metrics

(Apologies in advance for the expected misuse of terminology; I am not a linguist. Please correct as appropriate.) I am considering a Deep Learning language evolution experiment and would like to ...
Julian Moore's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
196 views

How does lexical replacement occur?

For example, in Mycenaean Greek, the word for king was Wanax or Anax, whereas the Modern Greek word for king is Basileus, nothing at all like Wanax. How did this happen & how do these kinds of ...
Sarāntairi's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
69 views

Where do nominal sentences (null/lacking verb sentences) come from and what does their existence imply?

Nominal sentence is a grammatical feature of some languages that a grammatical correct sentence can have no explicit verb. The implicit verb at least in Arabic is simple present form of 'to be', e.g. ...
Ebrahim Byagowi's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
51 views

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 ...
joe's user avatar
  • 363
4 votes
1 answer
267 views

Onomatopoeia origin of language?

Are there any "modern scholars" that support the onomatopoeia origin of language hypothesis?
C7A0I6N's user avatar
  • 135
4 votes
1 answer
178 views

Charles Hockett - 'F' article?

In the Guardian, there is an article on cultural determinants of phonological feature choice. A recent article in Science supposedly supports the hypothesis that the existence of labiodental ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 4,445
3 votes
3 answers
203 views

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 ...
Lance's user avatar
  • 4,338
0 votes
1 answer
357 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', ...
Ritesh Singh's user avatar
2 votes
3 answers
229 views

If speech language was before written language, isn't non verbal before speech?

I'm reading "Introducing Phonetic Science" by Michael Ashby and John Maidment and they say: Speech is the original channel for which human language evolved and all written languages have (or once ...
César D. Vázquez's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
1k 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 ...
Remi.b's user avatar
  • 351
3 votes
1 answer
152 views

What's this punctuating feature of some peoples' English?

What exactly is the name and nature of this odd bit of consistent yet seemingly redundant English found in many forms of colloquial English: "She gave me dates, she did!" "The little lads ran home, ...
Tirous's user avatar
  • 375
1 vote
0 answers
116 views

New Scientist Article on Spoken Language? [closed]

I wondered if anyone had seen this article on Relational Frame Theory in the most recent edition of the New Scientist? It reports an active laboratory based research programme: https://www....
Fiona O'Neill's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
88 views

From an evolutionary (language) standpoint, of what use are homonyms?

A homonym is a word which shares the same pronunciation as another word or words, but has a different spelling, e.g. "to", "too", "two". I wonder why languages have homonyms in the first place. What ...
EddieN120's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
606 views

What is the origin of declension/conjugation classes?

Languages with declension and conjugation usually have multiple declension and conjugation classes. If one were to invent a language with declension or conjugation, one would probably introduce only ...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
867 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 ...
mncz's user avatar
  • 313
13 votes
6 answers
6k views

Are some languages more advanced than others?

I have read about animal communication, particularly in mammals and historical evidence in early hominoids. Naturally, I am always amazed how much information species like dolphins and orcas can ...
Stan Shunpike's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
81 views

What stages of emergence of linguistic features are proposed among the world of scholars?

In biology, there is a simple two stages distinction of the emergence of life: Abiogenesis, the emergence of a (very simple) life form from non-living matter. Evolution, the further emergence of ...
meireikei's user avatar
  • 745
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

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 ...
erdekhayser's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is language/grammar (mathematically?) scientific (like Math)? Is a grammar construct a delineation = to a math formula? [closed]

Is language itself scientific? Can the way language is used/abused be scientifically evaluated like a Math problem? Can an English sentence be mathematical? Are grammar constructs defined like (100% ...
prosody-Gabe Vereable Context's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
378 views

Boustrophedonism effects

From the looks of it Boustrophedon texts should be more efficient to read. However, I can't find any modern day research regarding its effects and reasons why it would have fallen out of use in ...
David Mulder's user avatar
7 votes
5 answers
2k views

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 ...
Nerrolken's user avatar
  • 479
2 votes
0 answers
94 views

Considering languages evolved over time, what could be the initial dataset?

If I assume evolution of language took place over time, I am curious as to what can be the initial population of words or syllable or anything. Lets say I am about to write a algorithm to evolve ...
Vicyan's user avatar
  • 321
-1 votes
3 answers
695 views

What are the counterpart of Genotype and phenotype in a language?

Considering that languages evolved just as species did complying with Darwin Natural Selection, what are the Genotype and phenotype when it comes to languages?
Vicyan's user avatar
  • 321
2 votes
2 answers
290 views

Is the evolution & development of language better described by Deleuze concept of the rhizome than the traditional tree?

I originally asked this question on philosophy.stackexchange, but the consensus was that this was better asked here Deleuze & Guattari introduce the idea of the rhizome in their text A thousand ...
Mozibur Ullah's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
859 views

Are "txt-speak" and "emoticons" examples of normal language evolution?

"txt-speak" appeared because of the need to fit a communication into 160 characters. "Emoticons" appeared due to the need to convey an emotional context with your message so that it is read correctly ...
BanksySan's user avatar
  • 289
12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Do atonal languages have a tonal ancestor?

One of the distinctions among languages is the tonal/atonal distinction. Dediu & Ladd (2007) suggest that this split between tonal and atonal languages is related to a recent mutation in the ASPM ...
Artem Kaznatcheev's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
861 views

What is the "first language"?

I vaguely remember reading an article about a book that talked about what the "first language" would have consisted of, but I can't seem to recall what the book was or what the language was called. ...
Nick Anderegg's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
978 views

Why are spoken languages more common than signed languages?

As I understand, there is no essential difference between spoken and signed languages. Both have the same kinds of phonetic, morphological, syntactical and semantic complexities, both are prone to ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
320 views

When some people spoke proto-XX, what did other people speak?

Tracing back in time through the language hierarchy, I imagine that geographical areas where ancestors of existing "alive" languages were spoken will narrow in, leaving lots of gaps (Since for ...
dainichi's user avatar
  • 1,554
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

Did Hebrew writing evolve from Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I read somewhere that the Hebrew writing system evolved from Egyptian pictographs. If that's the case, have anyone read about records that trace exact evolution from a pictograph to a Hebrew letter, ...
iralight's user avatar
17 votes
4 answers
15k views

Monogenesis vs. Polygenesis

By following the comments to another question about the evolution of Khoisan languages, I learned that there is a heated debate in Evolutionary Linguistics about the origin of language. Some quick ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar