Questions tagged [history]

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

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28
votes
6answers
50k 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 ...
20
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2answers
854 views

Why is it that Latin was more “successful” in the western part of the Empire than in the eastern part?

The Roman empire ruled over the lands around the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, and I imagine imposed its language on its subjects. But why is it that the western part of the empire (France, ...
19
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4answers
5k views

True languages that pirates spoke

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you may already know, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Since I find the historical subject of piracy quite interesting, specially after reading Pirate Utopias, I would ...
19
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3answers
2k views

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

The ancient Greeks and Romans had no concept of historical linguistics or of the Indo-European language family. However, it would have been noticeable to anyone who spoke even a little of both Greek ...
15
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5answers
1k views

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 ...
14
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3answers
4k views

When did Hebrew start replacing Yiddish?

I’ve always considered the transition to have started in the beginning of the 20th century, when the Ben-Yehuda’s works became pretty prominent. If I recall correctly, the first seminary where Hebrew ...
12
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2answers
4k views

Is the Indo-European language family made up?

Question Which European Languages are not Indo-European? on History.SE got this peculiar comment from user mathreadler: None of them are. Indo-European is completely made-up language family by ...
12
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2answers
401 views

What is the reasoning behind the selection of the IPA symbols?

There are many weird characters in IPA, like Glottal Stop symbol ʔ for example. Why these characters? Is there any reason for selecting them, or was their selection just arbitrary?
10
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3answers
2k views

What are the Proto-Germanic words for sea, lake and a couple of others?

In Dutch "zee" means "sea" and "meer" means "lake", but in German "das Meer" means "sea" and "der See" means "lake". Similarly, verbs like to want, to need, to have, to desire, etc. are all mixed up. ...
10
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1answer
234 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 ...
9
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2answers
457 views

What is the historical basis for the use of this type of phrasal verb in English but less so in Spanish?

For example, English uses phrases like to look for and to look at, which (I believe) are considered phrasal verbs. Spanish, however, would under normal circumstances use some derivation of buscar and ...
9
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1answer
625 views

Is it accurate - Chinese Wikipedia on Japanese/Korean classification

I'm not very updated on random theories regarding the Altaic theory (which I personally am agnostic about; though I slant towards not believing in it due to the extreme lack of any regular sound ...
8
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2answers
489 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 ...
8
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2answers
624 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 ...
8
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4answers
415 views

How much time does it take to create/fork a new language?

I wonder if there exists any summary or paper analysing the time it takes for the creation of a new language (with all reservations concerning definitions of languages et dialects etc.)? Take, for ...
7
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2answers
5k 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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1answer
294 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 ...
7
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2answers
713 views

Why did generative linguists abandon the notion of kernel sentences?

I've had a hard time finding answers to this question on Ixquick. When I was young, transformational grammarians believed that sentences were derived from "kernel sentences," which were ...
7
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2answers
2k views

Why did English borrow more from Latin and Greek than, e.g., German did, in scientific and philosophical subjects?

Is there any known reason why the scholars of the time didn't think it easier to use calques, as for instance the Germans did for the names of some of the basic chemical elements?
7
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2answers
140 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 ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Why is Ivrit not considered an artificial language?

Why is Ivrit, the modern version of Hebrew, not considered an artificial language like for example Interlingua? From the history it looks like the language was dead except in clerical circles and ...
6
votes
3answers
419 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
600 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 ...
6
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1answer
265 views

Where did the semantic categories of C. D. Buck's dictionary of synonyms come from?

The 22 categories of words used in Carl Darling Buck's "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages" (1949) are quite different from for instance the categories in Roget'...
6
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2answers
472 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 ...
5
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2answers
597 views

What is the origin of 't-' and 's-' words for second and third person possesive adjectives?

Many languages associate the t sound with the second person and the s with the third. For example Spanish (tu/tuyo, su/suyo), French (tu,ton/ta/tes,son/sa/ses), Italian (tu,tuo/tua/tuoi,suo/sua/suoi) ...
5
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1answer
294 views

Where did Peirce publish his triadic model of signs?

A triadic model of signs can be found by various researchers. Probably the most famous illustration is the diagram in Ogden and Richards's The Meaning of Meaning (page 11, digitized here). It is also ...
5
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0answers
473 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 ...
4
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3answers
3k views

English words which are both verbs and adjectives

A question about UI design led me to speculate about English words which are both a verb and an adjective. My answer to the question addresses this linguistics issue as the root of the UI issue. I ...
4
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3answers
793 views

Are there any extinct phonemes in Russian?

The Russian language and my own language have something in common - they are very rich and nuanced lexically, but not rich phonetically at all. There are even numerous parodies making fun of the ...
4
votes
2answers
494 views

What are the rationale of people speaking/teaching Esperanto? [closed]

According to Wikipedia, Esperanto's goal was: to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different ...
4
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2answers
785 views

Do the Thai masculine & feminine “polite particles” have counterparts in Lao?

In Thai there are particles which can be used at the end of many sentences to make them more polite. Different particles are used by male and female speakers: "ครับ" (kráp) : male "ค่ะ" (kâ) : female ...
4
votes
1answer
335 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
276 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
0answers
52 views

Can the shift in grammatical usage of “an X-ese [person]” be explained linguistically?

While reading An Introduction to Information Theory by John R. Pierce, I was distracted by a linguistic artifact (on page 251 of the second edition): We can tell our friends apart, […] but we find ...
4
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0answers
72 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
3
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4answers
3k views

Why does English have words from Latin and none from Celtic?

It is known that Britain's history of invasion goes as: Celtic arrival, Roman domination, Saxon settlement, Nordic settlement, Norman invasion. If England's identity was largely made from the Saxons (...
3
votes
2answers
172 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
215 views

What Languages have historically had Purification Movements? [closed]

Greek has been notorious for trying to purify the language. People tried to conserve the Attic Dialect which evolved to what is today called Katharevousa, which even means purified. Historically, ...
3
votes
2answers
307 views

Nazis considered Slavs as non-Aryans, but did Nazi linguists classified the Slavic languages as “non-Indo-European”?

Nazis considered Slavs as non-Aryans, but did Nazi linguists classified the Slavic languages as "non-Indo-European"? What was the Nazi theory about historical linguistics?
3
votes
3answers
210 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 ...
3
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1answer
133 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
280 views

How did a logographic orthography like Chinese organize its word-stock before any type of phonetic notation?

Let's say you were to to pick up a dictionary and look up a word in Chinese before the advent of any type of phonetic notation system such as Pinyin or Bopomofo. How would words in that dictionary be ...
3
votes
1answer
119 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
160 views

Had the ancient languages fewer words than modern languages?

By ancient languages I mean in the Antiquity (or before). They were less rich in vocabulary than modern languages (for instance Indo-European languages if we need a reference), or we could think that ...
3
votes
2answers
789 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

References about the history of Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian after the break-up of Yugoslavia

What is considered the best reference (papers/articles/books) that discusses the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian language and outlines its history after the break-up of former Yugoslavia in the early 90s?
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two weeks?

One language dies every two weeks. But where does that statistic come from? Everyone is saying it without explicit citation. Who or which academic paper first noted the death of a language every two ...