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Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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Does anyone know which language is this and where is it from? [on hold]

Does anyone know which language is this and where is it from?
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0answers
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Meaning of vasuchandra and how the meaning can be related to number 18 [on hold]

This is a word from Rajnighantu,a book of Ayurveda.
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2answers
50 views

When was the first bicameral script developed?

The Wikipedia article on letter case says this without citing any references: Both majuscule and minuscule letters existed, but the difference between the two variants was initially stylistic ...
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5answers
133 views

Apart from French, does any language have voicing-dependent change of place of articulation?

The outcome of Romance velar palatalization in French depends on the voicing of the consonant: Lat. ankilla → OFr. [antsele] but Lat. argilla → OFr. [ardʒile]. This is also reflected in words borrowed ...
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1answer
172 views

Could someone illuminate for me how PGmc *suma and *sama(n) were derived?

Ie, I am assuming that they are both ultimately deriviative of PIE *sem-/*som-. So, how are they derived from this, in terms of morphemes, and their meanings? I have skimmed through both Ringe and ...
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2answers
276 views

How does Metathesis work?

How does it happen? What motivated latin "parabola" to change into Spanish "palabra" and why does english "ask" is often changed to "aks"?
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0answers
65 views

*through* vs. *tough*: ME*-ough* /uːx/ > –? How are the sound shifts from ME -ough explained?

How is it explained that the sound sequence /uːx/ -ough has developed so differently in different words? Not-dipthongized in through, shortened and unrounded and retained fricative in tough, lowered ...
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2answers
140 views

Question about the proto-Germanic root hampijaną

This question came as I analyzed the origin of the english words "happy" and "happen" and after my research i found the reconstructed proto-germanic root "hampijaną". However i found that this root ...
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1answer
133 views

Latin “niger” from *negʷ-?

Could Latin niger "black", of uncertain origin, come from *negʷ- "bare, naked"? For an analogy, compare black, blank, Spanish blanco "white, argent", and their roots PGem *blakaz "burnt", PGem *...
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3answers
417 views

Development of diphthongs

Is there a specific reason for which diphthongs in German and English words like "mein" and "like" arose? It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon, but somehow it seems to be limited to Germanic ...
5
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1answer
73 views

Click consonant development

Can click consonants arise from non-click consonants?Or are they an original feature of all languages that was lost in the majority of them and only retained in few?
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3answers
110 views

Which languages influenced the Hindustani language spoken in India as of today other than the West Asian languages?

The Hindustani language got influenced by West Asian languages like Persian, Arabic, Turkish etc. I wanted to know apart from the West Asian languages which other languages influenced the Hindustani ...
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Pre-Hilalian Hilalian dialects comparaison

What are the main differences between Pre-Hilalian Tunisian dialects ( or any other Maghrebi dialects ) and the Hilalian ones ( Pronunciation , vocabulary ... ) . Let’s take the dialect I speak as an ...
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2answers
169 views

Why does Sankr. नक्ति (nákti) not show Satemization

Did Sanskrit नक्ति (nákti) "night", PIE *nókʷts, not participate in the kentum-satem split? Why? Is it a loan? There are at least two synonyms, if that makes any difference. I have no actual reason ...
3
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2answers
116 views

Hurrian and Indogermanic

Some historical linguists include Hurrian words in the reconstruction of Proto-Indogermanic. However, cognates between Hurrian and Indogermanic languages are mainly restricted to Greek and to the ...
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2answers
182 views

How did Latin get its stress pattern?

As far as I know, Latin had a word-initial accent for some time of its history after losing the Indo-European accent. I am wondering why Latin then switched to an ante-/pen-ultima stress pattern.
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3answers
131 views

Is the existence of a mixed branch of Indo-European plausible?

I was thinking about the possible existence of a branch of the Indo-European family that combines features of several branches. For example, a branch that is something in between the Germanic and ...
3
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1answer
98 views

Homophones in Proto-Germanic

Does anyone know reconstructed homophones in Proto-Germanic or where I could look them up? I am interested in clear homophones, not polysemes.
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1answer
195 views

Which alphabetic writing system first had spaces between words?

Just recently, I believed that spaces between words were first invented with the Carolingian minuscule, invented by the English scholar Alcuin of York. As I just discovered, spacing wasn't first ever ...
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0answers
32 views

In what ways did the Insular Indic languages morphologically diverge from Maharashthri Prakrit?

Maharashtri Prakrit is the antecedent southern zone language to all insular Indic languages. What are some characteristics, morphologically speaking, which differentiate these insular languages from ...
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1answer
111 views

How are words in native English part of the vocabulary typically so short to forestall morphemic spelling?

Why Do Languages Change? (2010) by R. L. Trask (1944-2004). p. 138.       This habit of retaining French spellings in English contributed to another prominent feature of modern ...
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0answers
44 views

Rhotic gutturalization in French

While reading my tutor's paper I came across a term which I would like to understand better. Uvular trill [R] appears in certain French dialects. That sound often changes into a voiced uvular ...
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1answer
96 views

Statistical Methods in Etymology

Etymologists tend to categorize the probability of theories under formulaic labels. These range from "uncertain" over "tentative" or "not convincing" to "established", "accepted" or "nonsense". P ...
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4answers
134 views

Halegannada/Proto-South Dravidian Phonological Changes

What is the explanation behind the /p/ to /h/ phonological change from Halegannada to Kannada?
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2answers
63 views

How do generativists account for apparent diachronic processes that cause errors in linguistic performance to become cemented as competence?

Many diachronic processes of language change appear to derive from synchronic errors in linguistic performance. How do generativists account for this if performance and competence are separate? If ...
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2answers
105 views

Which Romance Language retains the most words from Celtic?

It is known that they were once the same language, Proto Italo-Celtic, however with the descendants of Latin and the remaining Celtic languages, which Romance Language retains the most influence from ...
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2answers
384 views

Origin of h as a modifier letter

A silly what-if question that sounds a bit mad: I am curious as to why the letter "H" in English and some other European languages is used as a modifier to make diglyphs represent a single phoneme (ch,...
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1answer
81 views

What is a loan creation?

How is it different from a loanword? One example given was mitkind created on stimulus of English sibling. Does this mean mitkind is a new word but with a foreign sense? Is there such thing as loaning ...
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3answers
188 views

I have some questions about deciphering an ancient language

I’m very fascinated in learning new languages. I want to know: It is possible to decipher and learn how to talk in a ancient language? How to decipher at home any ancient language? Such as Ancient ...
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0answers
42 views

Pronunciation of Fermat in Gascon/Occitan

A math professor mentioned that the final segment of Fermat's name would probably have been pronounced [t] because of "where he was from." She didn't clarify further but I looked up where he's from ...
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2answers
198 views

What linguistic impact, if any, has the the Roman three name naming system left on modern Romance and European languages?

The ancient Romans had a three name system (tria nomina): praenomen, the birth/given name; the nomen, like a family name but marking the person as belonging to a specific gens; and the cognomen, of ...
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1answer
112 views

What makes certain sounds linguistically “rarer” than others?

Every sound is equally as capable of being performed by the human mouth, and I (correct me if I'm wrong) remember my psychology teacher telling me that infants go and say every sound babbling - even ...
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48 views

Jobs in Historical Linguistics

As a someone interested in Linguistics, after I leave school I would like to pursue this interest into my later life, as a career, but the majority of my nearby universities only teach the more ...
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2answers
133 views

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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1answer
25 views

What is the articulatory nature of [lʲ] and how is it normally lenited world wide, especially compared to [l]?

[l] is lenited in some languages like English (dark L), and in Polish (Ł). How is [lʲ] developed further if it does?
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1answer
89 views

Why are anaphonic antonyms regarded as chance by many linguistic historians

Why are anaphonic antonyms regarded as chance by many linguistic historians, if this could be regarded as an Ancient mnemonic method of creating a logical and easy inverted spelling of antonyms? ...
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4answers
118 views

How “the case system collapses” in e.g. Latin

A comment on Understanding the purpose of determiners/articles/demonstratives in language suggested that case systems break down: For unrelated reasons, the case system collapses, so that word ...
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3answers
207 views

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)?

Have linguistics found any evidence that Semitic languages influenced Germanic languages or vice versa (in ancient times)? BACKGROUND: I suggested to a forum of linguists that a certain Semitic word (...
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1answer
60 views

Where can I find lists of homophonic heterographs that overlapped accidentally?

Is homophonic heterograph the correct term? I know that it doesn't restrict them to this question's only target: chance overlaps. See Linguistics: An Introduction to Language and Communication (2017 7 ...
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2answers
146 views

Germanic Philology: “translate” a word from indoeuropean language to the germanic language

I'm having a philology test next week. One of the questions will be to "translate" an indoeuropean word into a germanic word, like: i.e. Agros -> germanic Akraz (i.e. "g" --> germ. "k" for Grimm's Law,...
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0answers
77 views

Do we have to revise what we know about Thracian?

I have been reading the latest paper on Thracian by C. Brixhe (on the latest Handbook of Comparative and Historical Indo-European Linguistics) and I am really baffled by the conclusion. In the 6th ...
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1answer
67 views

The letter V in German, its sounds and visual symbolism [closed]

The word Fotze (cunt) has the irregular spelling Votze, which is usually explained as a reference to the denotated part. But comparing Vater (father), I don't know any reason why hat wouldn't be Fater....
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1answer
100 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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48 views

Nicknames in Various Historical Cultures

There are a variety of ways to form casual address terms. Using family terms is common ('brother'), shortening/modifying a given name ('Teddy' from Theodore), or something based on the person's ...
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2answers
86 views

How did Gk. ταινία “band, ribbon” come from PIE *tn̥-yā- < *ten- “to stretch”?

AHD-IER (Watkin, 2011) P93 gives PIE *tn̥-yā- for Gk. ταινία: Suffixed zero-grade form *tn̥-yā‑. taenia; polytene, from Greek tainiā, band, ribbon. while EDG (Robert Beekes, 2010) P1444: ...
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2answers
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Can we use etymology to determine the nature of synchronic semantic and morphosyntactic differences between (near-)synonyms?

I've recently joined a discussion in which some of the participants insist that if one doesn't understand the nature of the difference between two or more words (the ones discussed by us are synonyms ...
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3answers
261 views

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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Are there any words which have the meaning 'Hello' or 'Hi' with Turkic origin? [duplicate]

In Turkish we say Merhaba or Selam when we want to say Hi to someone but both of these words have Arabic origin. I know that the same goes on with the other Turkic languages like Azerbaijani, Kazakh, ...
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1answer
58 views

What did Sapir intend to say when he wrote that 'whither' repeats all of 'where'?

I first learned of this quote on p. 105 Bottom. McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue (2009). Primary Source: Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. ...
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1answer
70 views

Isn't it obvious that linguists must specialize in language contact to study the history of English?

McWhorter, J. PhD Linguistics (Stanford). Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue (2009). p. 54 Bottom   There is ample scholarly work on how going to went from referring to locomotion to becoming a ...