Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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Was cuneiform ever 'written'?

Cuneiform's glyphs are well-known for the odd way they were made; stamping. I wonder though, given that it remained in used for thousands of years, was this the only way it was ever utilized? Was ...
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Historical inscription/texts and the present day (problem of presentism)

I am not sure if this would be considered specifically linguistics but more so an amalgamation of history, linguistics and philosophy. I just want more perspective on this question that I have been ...
How why e's user avatar
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How did οι merge with υ and υι in Koine?

Before the merger of ι and υ, there was a previous merger between υ, υι, and οι. υι makes sense as it was the long equivalent of υ. I’m still unsure how οι came to be pronounced as /y/.
Quinali Solaji's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
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Origin of Singapore Cantonese /œː/ being realised as [jɔ]

I've recently been taking Cantonese lessons from a Hong Kong native speaker, and as a result I realised that the Cantonese speakers in my family (who are also native speakers, but from Singapore) all ...
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Germanic Languages Family Tree

I really wanted to create a family tree for the Germanic Languages because I feel like the ones you find on the internet are kind of vague. I finished the family tree for the West Germanic languages, ...
lawkofaraj's user avatar
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Hidden philosophy in languages?

The 'usual self-introduction' in English is 'I am [name]' or 'My name is [name].' The former indicates that someone's name is something they are, while the latter suggests that the name is a property ...
Human's user avatar
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Spelling convention of past tense from <-'d> to <-ed>, when did this change happen [migrated]

Doing some historical corpus research right now and I am noticing the spelling convention in LModE of realizing the past tense with an apostrophe quite regularly, such as in walk'd rather than walked. ...
user44920's user avatar
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How and when do polygenesis advocates think new primary language families arose?

I've been reading about linguistics and have read that most linguists are harshly critical of proposals of genetic relationships between primary language families, and that the predominant theory of ...
Xiang Yu's user avatar
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Were يانيه and یانیه interchangeable in Ottoman Turkish?

Copy/pasting from this official pdf from the Turkish government produces يانيه. Czech Wiki uses the same spelling. English Wikipedia and Wiktionary, however, both use the spelling یانیه. Those look ...
lly's user avatar
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Typological frequency of sound changes; the case of s > h sound change

I was wondering how can I infer the typological "frequency" of given sound changes? How can I find out how typical is a given sound change typologically? Is there a catalogue of attested ...
Ali Koohpaee's user avatar
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Nations' names for themselves with foreign etymologies

TL;DR: are there any cases of nations/ethnic groups, whose name for themselves comes from a language that is foreign to them? [I feel like I am missing a term here] Many nations have a name for ...
Bennet's user avatar
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Has the spread of English removed any phonemes or characteristics from pre-existing languages?

I know there's already an answered question on here about English adding sounds and characteristics to languages, but I was wondering if there were many examples of the removal of intricacies from pre-...
meg's user avatar
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What were the sound changes in Old Novgorod?

I'm into conlanging and got the idea of recreating a Novgorod language. I tried Wikipedia in both Russian and English, but I still don't understand the various sound changes as there isn't a lot of ...
Beathan Mann's user avatar
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3 answers
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Spurious Fs' spawning

As advised, I am posting a separate question, but I still think it is a better fit for linguistics (because of phonetics and phonology); feel free to migrate to latin SE. Famagusta is supposed to be a ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
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What is "sub-Indo-European"?

Apparently Leiden had a conference on "sub-Indo-European". Google isn't very helpful, resulting in a dead link: Sub-Indo-European Europe: Problems, Methods and Evidence - Leiden University ...
vectory's user avatar
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What are some good sources for Old Marathi and Old Konkani as would have been spoken around 1100-1600?

I get that this will be a very difficult question, perhaps one with no easily accessible answer as vernacular MIA/NIA speech was not often written down and even if so, it was meant to resemble OIA in ...
Mr Jangoon's user avatar
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Why did Proto-Slavic *dьnьsь (today) change to Serbo-Croatian "danas" instead of to *dnas?

By the Havlik's law, the front yer in the first syllable of *dьnьsь was weak, so why didn't it disappear? It disappeared in most Slavic languages (like Czech "dnes" or Bulgarian "dnes&...
FlatAssembler's user avatar
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1 answer
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Timeline of future/conditional in Latin and Romance languages

I'm not a linguist - just a linguistics enthusiast - so apologies in advance if this is a stupid question. I am fascinated by the concept of grammaticalization, and I had heard that the future and ...
meldefon's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
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When are Shva and Qhataf-Pataqh used in Biblical Hebrew?

In Tiberian Hebrew, Shva Na and Hataf Patach were both pronounced like Hataf Patach. (I will be discussing Shva Na, not Shva Nach, in this question.) However, in other dialects, Shva was pronounced ...
QwertyCTRL.'s user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
244 views

What software for interpreting phonological rules exists?

So far, I have found PHONO33 for DOS, which is a quite old yet impressive program. Though overly strict and simplistic, applying rules in a strict order, which results in weird outcomes ×D It ...
bodqhrohro's user avatar
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What is the origin of Marathi and Konkani case endings (specifically genitive and accusative-dative)?

In Konkani and Marathi, the genitive case ending is -च (cha) with a vowel attached to the end depending on the gender. I am curious to know the origin of this case ending. Is there potential of a ...
Mr Jangoon's user avatar
38 votes
1 answer
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Is there any evidence that the modern word for "bear" is an euphemism which replaced the original taboo word?

I have read and heard many times the old linguistic story about the modern word for "bear": Slavic: medvěd, niedźwiedź, ведмідь, ... "honey-eater" Germanic: bär, bear, björn, ... &...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is the origin of alpha in the mediopassive indicative?

In greek, the indicative mediopassive in the 3rd person singular and plural are -εται and -ονται, however in PIE, the alpha was originally an o. Additionally, in the imperfect, the endings also have o ...
Blubber's user avatar
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What is closer to 16th century Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese or Portuguese from Portugal?

Shouldn't Brazilian Portuguese sound closer to it, as they pronounce more syllables?
GuestFromGuestLand's user avatar
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107 views

Old English weak noun 'Sweora'

I've been reading about diphthongization and i umlaut of diphthongs and I came across the example of the OE word for 'neck'. I have been led to understand that: the original vowel is 'i'. -rh- ...
ThomMallam's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
148 views

Source of Greek long alpha

I'm reading about the Greek first declension on wikipedia, which mentions that the origin of the first declension originally had long alpha, which then shifted to eta, except when after rho, iota, and ...
Blubber's user avatar
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Is "alpha-" and "-bet", in the word "alphabet", related to the first two letters "A" (alpha) and "B" (beta)? [closed]

I was reading the book The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. Towards the beginning (third paragraph) of chapter three, titled Two Wordbooks, the author writes - The alphabet, ...
Anirban Chakraborty's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
293 views

What is the "principle of uniformity" in historical linguistics?

I feel hopeless asking this. The word in question as I understand it describes that a theory has to account for all observables under discussion without exception. In historical linguistics it is ...
vectory's user avatar
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Can a strong verb change to weak?

Can a strong verb in the course of time change to weak verb? MoDu "scheiden" (to seperate) is weak: scheidde, gescheiden. Its ancestor ODu *skeidan < PWGm *skaiþan < PGm *skaiþana is ...
Raymond Uppelschoten's user avatar
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1 answer
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State of language in the hunter-gatherer era of Europe / Levant?

I would like to piece together a picture for a blog article (in essence) of what the state of the world was in the "hunter gatherer stage" just before the origin of agriculture. I would like ...
Lance's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
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Why did the consonant clusters /ks/ and /ps/ merit their own designated letters in Ancient Greek?

Ancient Greek had many consonant clusters, like /pn/ in pneuma, /bd/ in bdellion, and /pt/ in pteron. But for some reason, /ks/ (ξ) and /ps/ (ψ) received special real estate in the 24-letter Greek ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
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What influenced the fact in almost all European languages ​the word human "man" means a male?

Why "werman" (OldEnglish man as male) became simply Man (human) and "wifman" (OldEnglish man as female) became woman? Man in English (man, human) Homme in French (man, human) Mann ...
Orii's user avatar
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2 answers
286 views

Uniquenesses of Hebrew

Franz Philipp Kaulen, S.J. (1827-1907) was impressed in favor of [ancient] Hebrew by the following facts: In no other language is there such an intimate relation between nouns and their objects; the ...
Geremia's user avatar
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1 answer
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Etymological link between “govern” and “born”

So my question is two-fold. Specific and more general. I was doing some genealogy research and I was trying to read some Yiddish (I don’t understand Yiddish), and I thought a line said a certain ...
Daniel Elfenbein's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
4k views

What linguistic evidence is there in support of/in opposition to the account of the Tower of Babel?

I do not intend for this question to incite a debate as to the historicity/validity of the account of the Tower of Babel, I am simply interested in seeing how it fits into the framework of modern ...
PrimeNumbers's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
77 views

Is there any way to describe how languages are typically spoken, like there is a way to describe grammar?

In English, when ordering food, you'd say "I would like x," not "Please let me purchase x," even though both are grammatically correct. You can say that "I would be liking x&...
dogdan99's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
265 views

Why do languages seem to lose the dual number in particular?

Proto-Indo-European is reconstructed as having a dual number; Ancient Greek and Sanskrit both had one, yet modern Greek and all Indo-Aryan languages have lost it; similar patterns can be observed in ...
noah johnson's user avatar
2 votes
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čьrnъ > czarny, čьrvenъ > czervony (Polish)

According to Wiktionary, Polish czarny is from PSl *čьrnъ, and czervony is from *čьrvenъ. At least prima facie the soft yers appears to have become different vowels in Polish. I'm aware of the ...
Pteromys's user avatar
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1 answer
224 views

How does historical linguistics reconstruct languages that have no written record?

How are ancient languages like PIE (proto-Indo-European) known?
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
81 views

Questions about clusters of two dental stops in PIE

Beekes says a sibilant was inserted between two dental stops in PIE, therefore *-tt-, *-dt- > *-tst- and *-d(h)d(h)- > *-d(h)zd(h)- and the cluster is "retained as such in Hittite." ...
i's's user avatar
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Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin?

Did Proto-Sino-Tibetan and Proto-Indo-European languages have the same origin? Did human develop a common language before migrated from Africa, and were most if not all the modern languages ...
Tim's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
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Is Russian the most diverged Slavic language? [closed]

Does the Russian language have more innovations and divergent development from other languages in the Slavic branch? I am asking, because I always had the feeling, that the tense and pronunciation in ...
Zlar Vixen's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
86 views

Establishing criteria for sounds likely to facilitate phonological mergers around them

I know extremely little about the history of sound changes in languages other than English, so that will be the source of my examples. However, I’m asking this question for a more general, cross-...
Graham H.'s user avatar
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How to interpret Givón's (1981) implicational scale for indefinite articles developed from numeral 'one'?

I'm having trouble understanding the implicational scale for indefinite articles developed from numeral 'one' given by T Givón (1981: 50-52). T. Givón in his paper "On the development of the ...
Mrloory's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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Why does "s" in Portuguese sound like /z/ between vowels?

I am a native speaker of Portuguese and for a long time I've wanted to know why some of the rules of the language are the way they are. I am very fond of linguistics and of learning languages, but I ...
Bernardo Benini Fantin's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
280 views

Japanese is in its own lingustic family, but it sure seems to have a lot in common with Turkish

I speak Japanese, and recently, I've been exposed to Turkish. There's a good deal of overlap between structure, and some words. An example is "good", where it's "iidesu" in ...
b degnan's user avatar
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1 answer
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Origin of ratchasap/ราชาศัพท์ phenomenon in Thai and/or Tai-kadai languages

I am attempting to trace the origin of "rachasap" (Thai: ราชาศัพท์; Lao: ລາດຊະຊັບ). What is "rachasap"? Rachasap is an entire body of words that are used with deity, royalty, or ...
Biblasia's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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When did people realize French has its root in Latin?

By investigating into historical documents like Oaths of Strasbourg and applying the comparative method, modern linguists are able to know French is a Romance language. When the components of ...
jywu's user avatar
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19 votes
5 answers
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Why were vowels secondary citizens in many of the worlds sound-based writing systems?

Not considering logographic systems like Chinese, and outside Cuneiform (not sure if that is a logo system or something else), it appears at first glance that many of the world's writing systems ...
Lance's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What happened with the centum words in Bangani?

IE K^ > K has been proposed for Bangani ( http://www-personal.umich.edu/~pehook/bangani.html ) for *g()lak^t > lOktO ‘milk’, etc. Claus Peter Zoller claimed that Bangani was related to Kashmiri,...
Sean Whalen's user avatar

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