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Questions tagged [historical-linguistics]

The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

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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 ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
556 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 ...
Raf Vosté's user avatar
14 votes
0 answers
2k views

How did Chinese recursion evolve?

The modern Chinese linguistic recursion system is essentially the same as the English one. If you have a highly embedded sentence, you can translate it word for word; the embedding is very much the ...
Ron Maimon's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
496 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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
11 votes
0 answers
360 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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
273 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 ...
MujjinGun's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
155 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 ...
shabunc's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
415 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-...
kash's user avatar
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7 votes
0 answers
91 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 ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
391 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 ...
user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
156 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 ...
user6726's user avatar
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6 votes
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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-...
jwmullally's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
102 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 ...
Mihyar's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
224 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 ...
Andy W.'s user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
177 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 ...
Midas's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
393 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 ...
shabunc's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
84 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 ...
swasheck's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
75 views

Is there a linguistic term for a term in a language refering to a specific technology, outliving said technology?

In language, phrases and various semantic expressions referring to technologies often make their way into the language, even if that technology is mostly obsolete. Examples of this could include "...
Brock's user avatar
  • 41
4 votes
0 answers
103 views

Historically, when was whitespace used versus interpuncts versus no-separation?

The Wikipedia article on whitespace claimed until recently that the use of whitespace as a word separator was rare until its promotion by Alcuin of York in the Carolingian Renaissance. But I've found ...
wlad's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
186 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. ...
Maria's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
122 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?
joe's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
113 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
marie kestrankova's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
178 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 ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes
0 answers
182 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 ...
Mitch's user avatar
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4 votes
0 answers
129 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 ...
Midas's user avatar
  • 2,562
4 votes
0 answers
88 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 ...
user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
96 views

Are there online resources from which I can study ancient Umbrian?

Unfortunately I can not find a substantial resource that can help me in the study of ancient Umbrian. I have tried to search up on the Web, however the only resources I had found were about lexicon. ...
Damian's user avatar
  • 31
3 votes
0 answers
50 views

Feature Metathesis in Consonant Clusters

A while ago I remember reading a blog post about the (in)famous dw > (e)rk sound change in Armenian. This post discussed it in terms of feature metathesis, i.e. the stop feature and the continuant ...
Tristan's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
118 views

How did latin "de post" become Romanian "după"?

Wouldn't the expected result be: "dopă"? I understand that the short "e" was assimilated by the long "o" from the next word, and then /o/ -> /ə/, but why o -> u ? ...
SarruKen's user avatar
  • 189
3 votes
0 answers
115 views

Why does it seem like (at least some) ancient European languages didn't have words for "yes" and "no"?

This is something that's bothered me since learning Latin in high school a decade or so ago--it seems like the concepts of "yes" and "no" that I, as a native speaker of English, ...
Hearth's user avatar
  • 375
3 votes
0 answers
90 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 ...
Luke Sawczak's user avatar
  • 2,442
3 votes
0 answers
241 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, ...
Nardog's user avatar
  • 4,951
3 votes
0 answers
60 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 ...
John Regan's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
48 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 ...
Anton Sherwood's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
140 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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
77 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 ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
109 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 ...
Unbrutal_Russian's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
59 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 ...
Matthew T. Scarbrough's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
81 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 ...
mseddon's user avatar
  • 131
3 votes
0 answers
49 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 ...
Patronics's user avatar
  • 131
3 votes
0 answers
118 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 ...
suizokukan's user avatar
  • 2,007
3 votes
0 answers
223 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 ...
Andonis Neilous's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
58 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 ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
313 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 ...
Yram's user avatar
  • 31
3 votes
0 answers
266 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 ...
meireikei's user avatar
  • 745
3 votes
0 answers
85 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 ...
Filippo Bistaffa's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
113 views

Are the gramatical cases slowly disappearing in Romanian or they were never that used in the common speech?

Where I live in Muntenia, people rarely use the dative anymore and replace it with the preposition “la” + the nominative/accusative form of the noun or pronoun. “Am dat la băiat să mănânce” instead of ...
SarruKen's user avatar
  • 189
2 votes
0 answers
78 views

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
2 votes
0 answers
76 views

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
2 votes
0 answers
201 views

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