Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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39 views

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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122 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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3answers
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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 etymology of (ber بر )in Yemeni accent that mean light of moon ? I find nearest words in Egyptian dictionary and amhra refer to light but in fus7a classic Arabic nearst to it ...
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77 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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1answer
307 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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96 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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227 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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46 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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30 views

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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269 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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99 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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78 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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139 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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169 views

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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84 views

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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868 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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204 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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3answers
130 views

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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2k views

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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102 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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58 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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1answer
84 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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3answers
201 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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1answer
75 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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1answer
138 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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10k views

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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99 views

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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3answers
192 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
344 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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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
156 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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1answer
98 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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61 views

Is there a specific name for the area of linguistics studying external constructs as encoded/embedded in languages?

I've recently become curious about this area of language/linguistics. I'm thinking about how mental, environmental and societal constructs are encoded within languages. Also about what a language ...
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183 views

How to find the first use of a word?

I already know how to use the Ngram to check the frequency, And how to use the use the date ranges with Google books to find old usage of a word in medieval books. But how to check the first use of ...
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1answer
101 views

When was Proto-Austronesian spoken?

I read on Wikipedia that the language that Hawaiian comes from, distantly, is called Proto-Austronesian. It says that it had more sounds/phonemes was spoken around Taiwan and Southern China. However, ...
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1answer
333 views

How might one swear in Proto-Indo-European?

Proto-Indo-European is an interesting topic. I'm fascinated by how it spread. But, I wonder how to use curse words. These words, like others, will probably be reconstructed from other languages: Latin,...
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106 views

Which factors influence the linguistic conservatism of a language, and to what extent?

Presumably the number of speakers is a factor, as a language cannot change if nobody speaks it (is this even true in absolute?)1, but it does not necessarily follow that more speakers results in ...
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1answer
103 views

Why are PIE C+glide clusters so rare?

I noticed that *Cj/*Cy (depending on if one uses IPA or IEist notation) and *Cw sequences are rare in PIE (with most being the result of schwebeablaut or regular ablaut). Among sequences that aren't ...
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147 views

Open ت and tied ة does both ت indicates at the end of the word that the word is feminine in arabic linguistics? [closed]

If a word ends with open ت or tied ة does both ت indicates at the end of the word that the word is feminine in arabic linguistics like ٱللَّتَ feminine form of word Allah in Quran 53:19?
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83 views

Are there any unattested, reconstructed Middle English words?

Are there any unattested Middle English words that were attested in Early Modern English? I'm asking this because, on Wiktionary, I saw that there are only 2 words: the F word and halibut that have ...
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1answer
302 views

Etymology of Persian سبز (sabz), meaning “green”

Where does سبز come from? (Wiktionary has no etymological information.) Urdu and Hindhi have the word "sabzi", which is derived from it, but is there a PIE root from which this derives, or is Old ...
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1answer
122 views

How to read and understand linguistics articles?

I was wondering if there is a good way to read and understand Quantitative linguistics articles that has graphs in it? For example, For a class, I am currently reading: "Recognition of spoken ...
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736 views

Is Uralic Possibly a Branch of the Indo-European Branch?

I've heard that there is a "family" of languages called the Uralic family. I looked up the association between the two languages. I found that there are possible cognates on Wikipedia. I am floating ...
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1answer
208 views

What Languages have historically had Purification Movements? [closed]

Greek has been notorious for trying to purify the language. People tried to conserve the Attic Dialect which evolved to what is today called Katharevousa, which even means purified. Historically, ...
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57 views

Which are the social differences which lead to the variance in the way to address a person?

My question is: Which are the social differences which lead to the variance in the way to address a person? An example of the difference is T-V distinction some languages abolished it while others ...
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2answers
151 views

Is Rigveda the oldest religious recorded text (grandha)in the world? [closed]

Rigveda is considered to be the oldest recorded religious writings(grandha) book may be by the Indians.I do not know Whether it is a fact or not.Even the Wikipedia says so. Is Rigveda the oldest ...
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2k views

Why do adjectives come before nouns in English?

Why does the attributive adjective come before a noun in English? In most languages, the adjective comes always after a noun. For example, white car is written as the equivalent of car white in Latin ...

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