Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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46 views

What's the name of the effect where linguistic diversity is far more pronounced in a language's homeland?

I've always just used the term "homeland effect" for this, but websearches suggest that that is not actually its name and probably something I made up at some point. What I'm talking about ...
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Is Ruki sound law a Satem “Rhotacism”

Is Ruki sound law a Satem variant of "Rhotacism" English PIE Russian ear h₂ṓws ухо /úxo/ sear *sh₂ews- сухо /súxo/ deer *dʰéws дух /dux/ alder h₂élis- ольха /olʹxá/ their ??? тех /tex/
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193 views

Spelling of monotonous [closed]

All, I am just curious why 'monotonous' is spelled as mo·​not·​o·​nous and not as mono.tonus following the Greek origin of the word as mono + tone. Mono and tone could be spelled alone and actually ...
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113 views

Why do Chinese and Hindi have more terms for relatives than English does?

I was thinking about labels we assign family members (like cousin, grand mother etc.) and it struck me that in my native language of Hindi, we have different labels for maternal and paternal family ...
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Are there any languages that have a pronoun which is only used to refer to royalty?

I can recall reading an article years ago which claimed that some languages have unused "royal" pronouns. That is, these pronouns were only used to refer to royalty as a show of respect or ...
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348 views

Was it ever common to pronounce “wife's” as “wives”?

Spelling, in principle, should reflect pronunciation, but I've also read that the opposite can happen, and that the pronunciation of a word already in circulation can be changed by altering/...
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45 views

Quantification of rate of sound change in multiple languages

This question from over four years ago never got a definitive answer, perhaps because no 'rankings' of sound change rates existed at that time. I would like to revive it (in particular for sound ...
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Historical development from adjective to concrete noun to more abstract noun

I'd really appreciate any knowledge or advice on further reading about the following. Excuse my naivete- I am at the start of this investigation. I'm studying an historical corpus and I have found a ...
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1answer
144 views

Etymology of ぐるぐる

Since it's written in Hiragana, I presume it is likely not a recent loan word. However, its pronounciation bears resemblance to "軲轆", a Mandarin word meaning wheel--similar to ぐるぐる's meaning ...
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Origin of the ا that ends the past tense of Arabic verbs for هُم?

Arabic has a lot of intricate (finicky) qualities, but one of the things that's very nice about it is that spelling is usually phonemic (with the consonants and long vowels, anyway). But the وا at the ...
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Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

In Germanic languages, the p sound in Proto-Indo-European became f. I have wondered if the p sound means that the word does not come from a Germanic source. This is because words that have p in them ...
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u and v distinction in Slavic languages

Prepositon "in" in Slavic languages ("in" as "in the house") : v - Czech в - Russian (a Cyrillic v) u - Serbo-Croatian v - Slovak v - Slovenian w - Polish в - Bulgarian (...
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138 views

Reduced complexity in contemporary languages?

Not by education or professionally related to linguistics. It is my amateur observation that ancient languages seem more complex than their modern counterparts. For example ancient greek versus modern ...
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523 views

Is a final -u in Semitic languages known outside of Akkadian?

Consider Akkadian bētu vs. Hebrew bayit (בַּיִת) (meaning "house") and Akkadian daltu vs. Hebrew delet (דֶּלֶת) (meaning "door"). Are these endings known outside of Akkadian? If so, when did they ...
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Are two words cognate if they ultimately come from the same root but have different roots in more recent languages?

For example, Spanish corteza and French écorce (bark) both ultimately come from PIE *(s)ker- but they have different Latin roots (cortex and scortea). Does that stop them from being cognate?
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Influence of foreign vocabulary on tendency of English to lose inflections, become more analytic

The question is whether pressures to adapt to or incorporate foreign languages have tended to push English in a more analytic, less synthetic or inflected direction over the time from Middle English ...
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137 views

Why does “also” in German and in English denote different things?

There are some words in the German language that may seem to be familiar to a native English speaker, but in the end, it turns out that they are so-called "false friends" and have different meanings. ...
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Have any linguists studied/described a language that was totally foreign to them?

Have any linguists studied/described a language that was totally foreign to them? ie the linguist has totally no idea of what the utterances and writing of a language mean. How did they do it - ...
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What's origin of word “br” in Yemeni accent?

Hello everyone What's the etymology of "ber بر," which means "moonlight" in Yemeni? I find nearest words in an Egyptian dictionary and in Amharic referring to light, but in Fuṣḥa ...
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86 views

How do we know that Sumerian determinatives were not pronounced?

I've read the following in Edzard's "Sumerian Grammar" from 2003: Determinatives: these are signs which precede or follow words or names in order to specify them as belonging to semantic groups. ...
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318 views

What's the relationship between Old English and Germanic?

I read a line in the book "The Germanic vocabulary of Old English has not survived particularly well into the current period". This really confused me a lot. Isn't English a branch of Germanic ...
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109 views

What is the relationship of Proto-Indo-European, Indo-European, Proto-Germanic and Germanic?

I know that Indo-European is the name of a family of languages that includes nearly all the major tongues of Europe and several outside Europe, such as Persian and Hindi. Germanic is a sub-category of ...
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245 views

“She” and “they” in West Germanic languages

In English, the third person singular feminine subject pronoun (she) and the third person plural subject pronoun (they) are phonetically different. However, they are phonetically the same in some West ...
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vocabulary and notation for syntactic changes

As a layman I have picked up the terminology and notation for changes in phonology. But I know very little about diachronic changes in syntax other than that they happen: things like shift from SOV ...
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47 views

Why is “woman” in “the woman teacher” an adjunct while “literature” in “the literature teacher” a complement?

Is it because we cannot say "teacher of woman" but we can say "teacher of literature"?
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Is it correct for the rules of this voice alternations?

I'm a graduate student from Korea. I'm doing some practice about assimilation but I don't know if it is correct. Here is the question: "cat" and "cats" "dog" and "dogs" "hen" and "hens" And this is ...
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274 views

Is agnosticism the current orthodoxy regarding linguistic macrofamilies?

I'm asking this very much much as a interested layman. As I understand things, the academic linguistics community, by and large, views macrofamily hypotheses - Nostratic, Altaic, etc - rather poorly. ...
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1answer
103 views

Similarities between Proto-Austronesian and Chinese?

Proto-Austronesian was a language that was spoken about 5,000 years ago near Taiwan. I am just curious about, partly because of the geographic connection, if Chinese is related to the Austronesian ...
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79 views

Is there credible evidence for Proto-Indo-Uralic? [duplicate]

Proto-Indo-Uralic is possibly an ancient language that was spoken around ten thousand years ago. I have heard that this has evidence but it hasn’t been proven. So, is there any real evidence (...
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215 views

Any reasons for unexplained centumization in Balto-Slavic?

Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic languages are called satem languages, because in them the Proto-Indo-European palatovelars *ḱ, *ǵ, and *ǵʰ developed into sibilants or affricats, usually into [s]/[z]- or ...
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Ukranian зозуля cuckoo

I unfortunately did not find the etymology of Ukranian word зозуля zozúlja cuckoo. May it be a satemization ?
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“Reconstruction” of an attested and well studied language

I wonder has anyone ever tried to reconstruct Latin language via data on modern Romance languages as if we know nothing about what Latin actually was. Both as a fun exercise and as a method to test ...
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The impact on the deciphering of the Carian language on proto-Anatolian

Despite written in an alphabetic script, the Carian language resisted decipherment for a long time and we can only read it for about three decades now. The Carian language turned out to be a member of ...
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869 views

The term “proto” in “proto-language”

I noticed that both Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Indo-European have the title of "proto", although the Proto-Sinaitic has actual scripts which were found and studied, i.e. it is a fact that it existed, ...
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212 views

What is the origin of the “redundant” pronouns in the Venetian language?

From the examples taken from Wikipedia: • Venetian: (Ti) te jèra onto or even Ti te jèri/xeri onto (lit. "(You) you were dirty"). • Venetian: El can el jèra onto (lit. "The dog he was dirty"). It ...
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Learning linguistics from scratch

I am a student of mathematics and physics but have been inspired to learn more about linguistics after having learned a new language this year. I found the subject deeply fascinating. As of now I am a ...
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How well do Semitic languages preserve consonants over time?

I'm not too familiar with the details of Semitic languages, but as far as I can tell it seems the tri-consonantal roots of words are relatively important. If the consonants change over time, did they ...
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1answer
108 views

How consistent are the Egyptian Hieroglyph carvings orthographically?

We design the snake to look like this, and the bird to look like that, and the human figure to look like this other. Does it have to be exactly like that, or can we have some freedom when designing a ...
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60 views

What is the historical-linguistic origin of the high variety of the Burmese language?

In Myanmar (Burma), a state of diglossia exists. How did the high (formal) variety originate historically? Did it use to have native speakers at some point in the historical development of the ...
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91 views

Resemblance Between Turkish Ablative and Locative, Ancient Greek Ablative, Allative

I was studying some Ancient Greek, and found out that the declination of some irregular nouns are very similar. I started wondering if there is actually a language that is mother of Altaic languages ...
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211 views

Etymological Fallacy

What is actually wrong with using Etymology to infer a word's meaning? I mean other than semantics( or more subtle meaning, nuance) of what other use could studying etymology be. I cannot see the ...
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76 views

Are there any existing attested records or any manuscripts from Eastern Hungarian languages?

As a native Hungarian speaker, I've always been fascinated by the history of my native tongue. As we all know, Friar Julianus found Hungarian speaking people in the Ural mountains in the 13th century. ...
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141 views

Why is Latin considered a dead language, but Old High German simply a precursor to modern German?

Or, to put it another way: If the Church hadn't preserved Latin, would it even be considered a different language from Italian as opposed to simply an older form in the development of the Italian ...
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Were ancient languages as sophisticated as modern languages?

Reading some dialogues from Socrates, it struck me how eloquently the people seemed to speak from those times thousands of years ago. (Although this might be a result of the translation.) And yet ...
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How could Proto-Indo-European not get dissolved into creoles during the Indo-European expansion?

First of all, I must say that I realise that this is not exactly a linguistics question so much as it is an anthropological, sociological, or historical question, but I suspect this might be the best ...
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198 views

why is syntax interesting? [closed]

I hear a lot the argument that "language is just a way of communication, therefore it is not "really" interesting to waste the time on studying aspects such as syntax, rather the truly interesting ...
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5answers
380 views

Could Proto-Indo-Uralic be reconstructed?

I am interested in linguistics and how words spread from place to place. I have seen that there are two language families, and that there are signs that they might be related. Proto-Indo-Uralic is the ...
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1k views

Problems with the adoption of the Latin script in English?

How did the Middle English adapted itself to the Latin script? As I read it, Latin script didn't really suit the sounds in this language. Was the adaptation authoritative, ruled by a central ...
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3answers
162 views

What happened to “accented velars” in Anatolian?

One of the oldest splits within Indo-European was between the Centum and Satem languages; they differ in what they did to the "accented velar" phonemes (like *ḱ and *ǵ). However, if I understand ...
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101 views

Some scholars says that you cannot make the plural and feminine form of word Allah from arabic linguistic perspective [closed]

Is it possible from arabic linguistic perspective to make the plural and feminine form of word الله? for example اللهون plural form of word الله and اللت feminine form of word الله because in Arabic, ...

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