Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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16
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0answers
372 views

What are the different schools of PIE reconstruction?

I have read some works on Proto-Indo-European which mention different schools that advocate for different paradigms of reconstruction, such as the Leiden and the Erlangen schools. I'd like to know if ...
13
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0answers
424 views

Why is reconstructed PIE so typologically unusual?

I'm probably not the first to notice that a large number of features of reconstruct Proto-Indo-European are typological irregularities. The most famous of these probably being the voiceless/voiced/...
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2answers
835 views

Do dialects without the meet-meat merger neutralize the distinction in some contexts?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
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0answers
307 views

Is linguistic change pushed by humor?

Through "meme culture," young people are inventing all sorts of new linguistic constructions purely because they think they sound funny. The interesting thing is that these jokes don't end at a ...
8
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164 views

What kind of features support the claim that Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages?

Inspired by this answer to a different question, I ask what kind of features justify a claim that Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages. The features ...
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256 views

How to determine the direction of conversion?

Recently I have been researching the topic of nominalizations. I learned that such structures might be created by means of morphological derivation (be it affixes, clitics, light verbs) or zero-...
7
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84 views

In which non-Sinitic languages do negative clauses retain older constituent order in SVC-derived complex predicates?

Many complex predicates are historically derived from serial verb constructions. This is not only true of the Sinitic family. For example, in Saramaccan (Byrne 1987, as cited in Givón 2009): (1) a ...
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226 views

Phonological development of Middle Chinese 學 /hæwk/ to Mandarin xue /ɕye/

學 was /hæwk/ according to Baxter-Sagart transcription of Qieyun, and according to this wikipedia page, -æwk became /Jye/ in modern Mandarin, where J is a palatalized initial consonant. What I'm ...
6
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1answer
160 views

Mechanism(s) as to how the pronunciations of「也」and its Old Chinese "homophones"/phonetically-derivative glyphs drifted to the modern range of sounds?

In my question https://chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/47777/meaning-of-early-written-versions-of-%E5%9C%B0-and-etymology, I learned that the modern character for "earth, ground"「地」(dì) ...
6
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117 views

“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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117 views

Are Rhyming, Alliterative Verse etc. forms of linguistic Error Detection/Correction Schemes?

Rhyme (Wikipedia) Alliterative verse (Wikipedia) Metre - Poetry (Wikipedia) Mechanisms such as these appear to help lower information corruption during long range communication, especially during pre-...
6
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0answers
279 views

Why were written sentences longer in the past?

These ELU answers affirm, but do not explain, the decrease in written sentence length. So why? To allow for comparison with modern dialects, I restrict this question to: writing in European ...
5
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1answer
181 views

Merger of perfect and aorist in Italic and Celtic

One of the common features of the Italic and Celtic branches is the merger of perfect and aorist. So, in the surviving "perfect" forms we find a mixture of old aorist stems and old perfect ...
5
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78 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 ...
5
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137 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 ...
5
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273 views

Similar diminutive name construction in Turkish and Armenian

In Armenian diminutive for personal names are formed by adding 'o' for some short part of the name (I'm intentionally not calling this short form "root" cause it's not necessarily a root), so some ...
5
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135 views

What historical change(s) shortened vowels in Old and Middle English?

In a 1968 paper by Kiparsky ("Linguistic universals and linguistic change"), a historical-change argument is made for the brace notation of SPE, based on the history of vowel shortening. The premise ...
5
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77 views

Is there a way to measure culture's impact on a language?

I was wondering if there were any current models that measured the effect of cultural shifts in a given language. Specifically, is there consistent/model-able lag between major cultural events and how ...
4
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0answers
90 views

How and why do languages evolve to use different types of quotation marks?

For example, English uses "...", but French uses «...». Also, which of these is more common? What did the first written languages use?
4
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140 views

What language/script did Japan during the Yamato period and earlier have?

The Yamato period (300 - 710) had an organized ruler, civilozation, etc. However, only in Nara period (710 - 794), which existed along with the Tang dynasty of China, a Japanese script and language ...
4
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125 views

Relation between keltoi and galatai?

The ancient Greeks used both words and appeared to have originated both. The first form appears first in 517BC by Hecateus of Milietus. The word is still known in the 12th century AD where it's used ...
4
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98 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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105 views

Where can I find the HISTORICAL data on the total no of speakers of a language?

E.g. in total, how many people around the world spoke Spanish and French respectively in the 18th century? Well, I know the data on most languages are scanty. So no, I'm focusing on major world ...
4
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170 views

Reviewing the evidence of the spirantization of β (betacism) in Greek

Although I understand that it is impossible to assign a specific time to any sound change in Greek, I am curious about the spirantization of voiced stops, particularly of beta. I'll present the ...
4
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162 views

'Literally' non-literally

There has been a recent popularization over the questionable use of the word 'literally' as an intensifier rather than as a marker of non-figurative, especially since it seems to be used non-literally ...
4
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120 views

When did speakers of Semitic languages reach northern Levant and Syria?

Is there an approximate date when speakers of semitic languages reached northern Levant and Syria? I understand that from the linguistic material this can be difficult, but I look for litterature (if ...
4
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0answers
81 views

Historical changes from 'not yet' to 'not again' and vice-versa

A two part question. Are there attested historical changes whereby a construction C in some language means 'not yet', and then C changes in meaning so that it means 'not again' at a later time (or ...
3
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0answers
72 views

Fricative liquid metathesis in 17th-century English

There's a joke in Archie Armstrong's Banquet of Jests (1641) that turns on wordplay between "frying bacon" and "fyring a beacon" (a statute I was able to find a contemporary ...
3
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109 views

Did Classical Latin lack tenseness contrast in long and short vowels?

Contrary to the traditional supposition of /ɪ ʊ ɛ ɔ/ vs /iː uː eː oː/, the idea that Classical Latin contrasted the short and long versions of high and mid (or just mid) vowels only quantitatively, ...
3
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146 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. ...
3
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40 views

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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68 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 ...
3
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0answers
69 views

Sound Changes From Proto Bengali to Bengali

What are the sound changes that occur from Proto Bengali to Bengali? In which order did they occur historically? Ex. PB Būdhā became B Buro PB Karisi became B koriš PB dahī became B doi
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53 views

Resources on Middle Eastern Common Greek in the First Century?

QUESTION: I would like to ask if anyone knows any decent resources on how native middle easterners, particularly in Judea, might have pronounced greek koine in the first century. GOAL: My primary ...
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77 views

How is "In we go" syntactically valid?

Various simple sentences occur in English that I can't explain precisely. "In we went!" "Off he goes!" Is this an arcane idiom from an earlier grammar, or is there a general rule that can be ...
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0answers
45 views

When were numbers first used as code/shorthand for unrelated meanings?

I was considering this xkcd, which got me wondering, were there any examples of number based shorthand like “ten-four” in the comic used in the time periods this comic considers “old-timey”? In other ...
3
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0answers
103 views

Kaluza's law and Beowulf.64b

in short : (1) how shall I scan Beowulf.64b "herespēd ġyfen" ? (2) How shall I understand Seiichi Suzuki's remark about 64b : "[a verse whose] second lift fails to be occupied by a sequence of a ...
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49 views

Is the TAM -> copula/'say'-word pathway attested elsewhere?

According to the work of philologists, the particles 曰 *[ɢ]ʷat, 于 *ɢʷ(r)a, 云 *[ɢ]ʷə[r] were aspect markers in Early Archaic Chinese, marking the 'prospective', continuous and 'actualising' aspects ...
3
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0answers
274 views

How did West Germanic languages evolve?

I'm trying to make a comprehensive phylogenetic tree of Germanic languages, with dates of divergence, and I have been unable to find details on West Germanic languages and how they diverged. I have ...
3
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0answers
237 views

How polysemic on average were Chinese words around the time of the creation of Chinese characters?

If you look up a Chinese character and its meaning in classical Chinese, there is a good chance you get a long list with many different semantically unrelated meanings. Take 而 for instance, that bears ...
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79 views

Particular verbal inflection classes in "The Proclamation of Henry III"

I'm reading a document about "The Proclamation of Henry III", in which the text is presented and a short commentary and glossary follow. I'm interested in the survival of some of the distinct verbal ...
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106 views

Why did some conquerors change the region's language and others didn't?

In history we see many examples where a conquered people ceased to speak their native language and began speaking the conqueror's language, and also many examples where conquering groups ceased to ...
2
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0answers
102 views

Why is there such a dramatic shift in Tamil script during the 3rd to 5th AD?

I am relatively new to Lingustics.SE. I have no formal knowledge in Linguistics and I am unsure if this question is better suited for History.SE or here. Recently, I was reading about the Old Tamil ...
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101 views

Two questions about language evolution (primarily PIE and proto-nostratic)

Okay, so a little background information: Recently I've been thinking about how quite a few languages (talking mostly about IE languages here) appear to be 'simplifying' themselves over time, getting ...
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76 views

What is the origin of the pronunciation difference between 'replicate' (noun) and 'replicate' (verb)?

In English, the noun 'replicate' is pronounced with a schwa (ə) at the end while the verb is pronounced with the diphthong 'eɪ'. The same is true for the word 'duplicate'. Is there a more general ...
2
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0answers
26 views

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 ...
2
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0answers
117 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 ...
2
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0answers
136 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 ...
2
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75 views

(proto-)Germanic evidence for Late Latin vowel length

I would like to find a list of borrowings illustrating the reflexes in (proto-)Germanic of Latin long and short vowels. In particular I would like to find substantiation to the standard claim that it ...
2
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0answers
137 views

Is there a connection between the Sumerian En and the Semite El?

En means lord in Sumerian and El god or deity in Semitic. Semitic peoples use the word lord as a synonym of god, it seems that the same happens with Sumerian and its gods like Enlil, Enki, Enzu etc. ...