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The study of past events. Use this tag if your linguistic question is also related to history.

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At what point does a language become its descendant?

With the possible exceptions of constructed languages, languages seem to evolve. As a real-world example, we note that Latin has evolved into Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. What ...
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1answer
49 views

Voiced aspirated alveolar trill

Was there voiced aspirated alveolar trill in Ancient Greek? It was written in some sites in Russian that all Ancient Greek words which began with "rho" pronounced with the sound [rʰ], but it was ...
3
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1answer
84 views

How did French take over Walloon in Belgium?

Wikipedia states the use of Walloon has decreased markedly since France's annexation of Wallonia in 1795. This period definitively established French as the language of social promotion, far more ...
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0answers
53 views

Where might the given name Xelefon originate?

I was recently reading some historical records wherein a lady was mentioned, Olga Malar (née Cuch), born in "Napodiwka," Poland, in 1922. She was said to be the daughter of Xelefon Cuch and Jewdokia ...
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0answers
47 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 ...
2
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2answers
117 views

Why do some languages have many names?

I understand that each language has one name in each language and that they are not necessarily the same. For example, German is Deutsch in German and Allemand in French. But I've just seen Sranan ...
4
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1answer
110 views

How are proto-languages dated?

This is something I've been thinking about lately. You look up any reconstructed proto-language, you'll probably find an estimate as to when it was spoken. But how can this number be determined? From ...
2
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0answers
89 views

Who first said that no two words mean the exact same?

A friend of mine told me that German philologists (whom he did not name) in the 18th century were the first ones to argue that in any natural language no two words can mean exactly the same. Is this ...
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0answers
47 views

Did Chomsky made the first generalization of coordination?

If not then who? And maybe someone can suggest a good book of history of English linguistics? Can't find myself. Thanks!
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0answers
54 views

All all genetically Eastern Algonquian languages in the east?

Below is the distribution of the Algonquian Language Family from Wikipedia: They report this language family has 3 branches, but only one is "genetic" (actually related in structure, not just in ...
3
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1answer
86 views

Which linguists from the 1940s–1970s believed that language comprised two distinct parts, “lexis” and “grammar”?

I’m looking for information about the linguists and/or researchers from before the 1970s who at the time believed that vocabulary and grammar should be taught as two completely separate entities, that ...
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2answers
88 views

Phrases such as “Jackie stole John's heart” [closed]

What is the linguistic term to describe such phrases as "Jackie stole John's heart."? All things being equal, such pronouncements are rarely literal, and even with an emotional understanding in no ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Why does Polish use “w” instead of “v”?

Polish spells /v/ as "w", and the "v" letter does not exist in the language. The other slavic languages using the latin alphabet are in a reverse situation, "v" is used exclusively and "w" does not ...
7
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2answers
126 views

When did the concept of constituent movement arise?

As far back as the mid 1700s, William Ward considered the following phrase in An Essay on Grammar applied to the English Language. the flowers which a lady sitting on the seat in a garden views with ...
2
votes
1answer
102 views

When were empty constituents introduced into linguistics?

Sag and Fodor (1995) claim that "Bresnan's [1971] proposal was made prior to the introduction of empty constituents into syntactic theory." So when were empty constituents introduced? Sag, Ivan A &...
2
votes
2answers
74 views

Different meanings of going

The word going can have different meanings. Two of them are as a synonym for walking, e.g. "I'm going to the mall", and in the idiom "how's it going" as a synonym for "How are you?". I've noticed that ...
4
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2answers
253 views

Who was the first to call noun classes “genders”?

I'm not asking about the origin of grammatical gender. I am asking where is the earliest example of the term "gender" used to describe classes of nouns. I'm wondering who first decided to name ...
2
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1answer
223 views

What is the origin of declension/conjugation classes?

Languages with declension and conjugation usually have multiple declension and conjugation classes. If one were to invent a language with declension or conjugation, one would probably introduce only ...
4
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1answer
223 views

What is the cause of difference between British and American pronunciation?

I think it's pretty clear how such differences as high way or parking lot evolved, since these terms refer to the technology that didn't exist at the age of colonization. But how, do the present ...
8
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1answer
169 views

Can Old Church Slavonic be considered an artificial language?

How much was Old Church Slavonic edited by Constantine and Methodius? And what modified more: The Old Church Slavonic when people in Bohemia started to write with it, or the slavic dialect they used ...
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1answer
154 views

How do they know how to translate Old English?

For instance, we know how to translate the hieroglyphics because of the Rosetta Stone. I'm aware that Old English is far more similar to known languages than the hieroglyphics, but looking at the ...
2
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1answer
181 views

Old Norse name for Balts (Baltic people)?

Is there a word in Old Norse vocabulary for Balts (Baltic people)? How about regions of nowadays Latvia, particularly for Courland?
3
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0answers
84 views

The oldest known examples of written Latvian

For my research, i am looking for the oldest known examples of written Latvian. According to Wikipedia it's the translation of a Latvian hymn made by Nikolaus Ramm (1530) with no more info provided, ...
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2answers
232 views

Have there ever been (serious) attempts to replace alphabets with phonetic alphabets?

Although many languages share the same alphabets, the pronunciation varies greatly. The letters and words alone do not convey sufficient information. Phonetic alphabets, on the other hand, are ...
2
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1answer
76 views

Has the ‘chereme’ fallen out of vogue as an emic unit?

Background My 'ex' was a Gallaudet student (in Interpreting; he was hearing, not Deaf). I gathered a basic survey understanding of the linguistics (well, TBH, the politics) of sign-languages. I ...
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2answers
159 views

What's the reason behind the “silent n”?

My impression is that the concept of a silent "n" is quite common in many different languages/linguistic families . What is the reason that the "silent n" is so common in language as opposed to other ...
2
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1answer
249 views

Why is the letter “Q” visually simillar to “O”?

G was created out of C by adding an additional line, for an obvious reason as they represented similar sounds in Latin. But why is Q pretty much O with an additional line? These two letter do not ...
7
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2answers
407 views

How did it happen that K was introduced to Latin alphabet in place of C and C started to mark /t͡s/ or /s/ in many languages?

I know that K has been derived from Greek kappa and C from gamma. But how did it happen that people started to use K in place of C? From what I know there were already C and G in the Latin alphabet ...
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0answers
95 views

What philologists influenced Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblance?

Wittgenstein coined the term "family resemblance" for collections with multiple overlapping similarities as opposed to universally shared traits. Wikipedia mentions that "It has been suggested that ...
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3answers
180 views

Recent book on PIE and older proto-languages?

Please recommend a recent book that summarizes and critiques the current state of knowledge and speculation on PIE and older proto-languages. (book, please, I will have no electronic contact with the ...
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2answers
96 views

Oldest words for the seasons for which we have a confirmed pronunciation?

I'm aware that this is possibly very difficult to answer. What are the oldest known words for the seasons (as major, multi-month divisions of the year) for which we have reasonable scholarly assurance ...
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2answers
94 views

How was the acoustic theory of speech production informed by electrical circuit theory?

The acoustic theory of speech production as worked out by Gunnar Fant depends on a correspondence between the vocal tract and elementary electrical circuits. But the quote below perplexes me. In what ...
2
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1answer
103 views

In what way did the invention of the telephone shape the development of phonetic theory?

According to my rudimentary understanding of electronics, the telephone transforms sounds to an electric medium transmitted to a receiver over wires. You don't really need phonetics to make that work, ...
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1answer
65 views

How was phonetics performed with a phonograph?

How was phonetics performed with a phonograph? From the Wikipedia excerpt below, I guess it went something like this: A segment was recorded on a phonograph. That segment was Filtered each time with ...
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1answer
147 views

New Etymological Knowledge

If a scholar or layperson wanted to submit a discovery of the origin of some obscure word or phrase not previously known, what would be the criteria they should follow acceptable to the academic ...
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1answer
333 views

How many of English words have Germanic roots, and how many have Romantic roots? (in percent)

So, I'm wondering how much of English words have Germanic roots, how many have Romantic roots and how many have Greek roots etc. In percent. Is there any such table?
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1answer
59 views

History of languages from a geographical perspective

Unfortunately I am totally unaware of the research and most of the basic methodology of Linguistics, but I am really keen on knowing more about languages because I am a passionate learner of new ones, ...
3
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6answers
5k views

Which comes first? Grammar or language?

I always have the impression grammar is just a tool to help studying and learning a language, i.e. it is a scientific tool invented for a language after the language has existed. But to think of it ...
4
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2answers
786 views

What is the history of the International Phonetic Alphabet?

I know it has its origins in the International Phonetic Association, but the idea of a unique alphabet for each speech sound of the world's languages organized by place and manner must've had an ...
5
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0answers
356 views

Why did English change so rapidly between the late 1600s and the early 1700s?

I am currently reading the King James Version of the Bible and am slowly getting used to the text-—English is my second language. I then wondered with what ease would I be able to understand the ...
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2answers
884 views

What is the least changed language in use today?

I wonder that, among the oldest languages spoken today, which one is the best preserved resembling its oldest known form in terms of grammar and vocabulary. I know that we are limited in our knowledge ...
6
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3answers
413 views

What is the most recent example of a language which has split from another and become non-mutually comprehensible?

I know linguists like to say "no languages are older or younger than other languages" because they all evolved from ancient roots. With exceptions such as Nicaraguan Sign Language. So let me explain ...
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0answers
150 views

Translation of “Beowulf”

In the brief span of time I have studied this ancient poem, particularly verses 1829-30, I have read several translations. While observing each individual rendering of the text, it was evident to me ...
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2answers
548 views

What is this language? Is it an ancient language?

I have recently procured an artefact, which was excavated in Yemen. At the bottom of the artefact there is engraving as shown in the picture. Some of the letters (on two sides) look like Egyptian ...
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1answer
4k views

Why is October the tenth month even though Octo means eight?

And it's not only that! Novem is Latin for nine, and Decem is ten, and yet the months are eleventh and twelfth respectively. What's the origin of that? Why are the months called the way the are ...
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1answer
248 views

Why some languages have developed so difficult compared to others?

Finnish is one of the most difficult language in the world. Swedish is one of the most easiest language in the world. Finland and Sweden are geographically located next to each other. What is the ...
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13answers
40k views

Why is English classified as a Germanic rather than Romance language?

I am not a linguist. I do not know German nor French. The majority of English vocabulary is derived from Romance languages. Given these facts, I ask for a simple and convincing demonstration (using an ...
7
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2answers
342 views

why did the Franco-Provençal language decline in Switzerland?

In France, the Franco-Provençal language is endangered. The general dialect leveling in France proper is sometimes thought to be a consequence of public policy, the French government having been known ...
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2answers
366 views

Are there systematic studies on HOW language features/characteristics are formed?

(I don't know whether this is a genuine "linguistics" problem as of how "linguistics" is defined, but it has bothered my curiosity for so long I have to ask it somewhere.) When we scientifically ...
3
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3answers
177 views

Origin of Alphabetic/Phonemic Scripts

Dixon (the Australianist) has claimed that the Phoenician/Canaanite script is the ultimate source of all known alphabetic (purely essentially-phonemic) scripts on Earth; all other scripts are not ...