Questions tagged [history]

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

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4
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2answers
128 views

Is there a Historical ranking of the most spoken languages? Are there any universal languages?

Today, we can say that English is the universal language. Wherever you go, you can talk English, and chances are that you will find someone who can understand you. A century ago, I think that French ...
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2answers
270 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 ...
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2answers
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Is modern English the most spoken language of all time?

Out of all of the people that have ever lived, did/do more of them speak modern English than any other language? There are 2 billion English speakers alive today, but in my brief search I wasn't able ...
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1answer
98 views

Is most of the world's languages being in a small number of families a recent development? Or has there always been cycles of linguistic expansion?

I've always found it curious that the languages spoken by an overwhelming proportion of the human population can be traced to a small number of proto-languages that were each spoken by only a small ...
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0answers
75 views

Where did English get its perfect tense(s) from?

Apologies if this is too basic, but I know very little about linguistics and figured this would be a good place to ask. English seems like it draws from several other langiuages, notably the romance ...
3
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1answer
301 views

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is ...
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2answers
368 views

Why are there spelling inconsistencies in Southern European languages? What is the historical origin of this redundancy?

I noticed that in the Southern European languages, words change spelling to reserve the pronunciation. For example, in Spanish verbs have -ar, -er, and -ir conjugation classes. First person singular ...
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1answer
150 views

Reason why English is the most spoken language

English is the 3rd most spoken language in the world. How is that related with having so many roots. For example English has its roots in western Germanic languages and also it has adopted many words ...
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1answer
122 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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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 (...
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45 views

Did a single word derived from “de fenestra” exist in European languages prior to the Defenestration of Prague?

Many European languages have a single word derived from the Latin prepositional phrase de fenestra (“out from a window” or “down from a window”) meaning “the act of throwing someone out a window.” ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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1answer
47 views

What etext sources do we have for the Gothic Language?

It is very hard to search for "Gothic" in Google, because it finds modern gothic stuff which is not what I'm looking for. I found the word "𐌰𐌻𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐍃" (but I can't find a definition haha), and ...
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1answer
71 views

Are the objects symbolized by modern hunter-gatherer languages a good indication of their past?

I'm not studied in linguistics so bear with me here. Phrasing the question was also difficult, but to elaborate it's something like this: We take a modern hunter-gatherer tribe that hasn't been ...
3
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1answer
262 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, ...
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1answer
123 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 ...
3
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2answers
184 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 ...
2
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0answers
119 views

How could Proto-Indo-European not get dissolved into creoles during the Indo-European expansion?

First of all, I must say that I realise that this is not exactly a linguistics question so much as it is an anthropological, sociological, or historical question, but I suspect this might be the best ...
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0answers
98 views

The schwa in [meɪkəθ] for *maketh* in KJV English

This Wiki article seems to suggest that words like makes had lost their final syllable schwa in normal speech already by Chaucer's time (palmeres > palmers is the example they give). The rule, as ...
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6answers
51k 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 ...
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1answer
94 views

Linguistics and Continental Philosophy

I'm a Linguistics major at OSU, I have one semester left. During my time here, I've tried to read whatever I could on philosophy of language on the side, especially from people who aren't usually ...
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1answer
85 views

What was the diffusion and the use of dictionaries in ancient times? Every civilization with a dictionary?

Did they have dictionaries in the ancient times? I mean who used the dictionaries? Did authors use them to know how to write? I don't think it worked this way. But when in the history dictionaries ...
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0answers
113 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 ...
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0answers
55 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 ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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3answers
444 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 ...
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3answers
826 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 ...
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0answers
75 views

What made some languages change normal writing orientation?

For Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese, writing was done in 漢字 (English spelling may vary), going down and stopping and switching to the next line on the left and repeating the process again. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
327 views

Is there any relationship between the Hungarian long s sound and the long s in some European languages?

This History SE question (with some references), which enquires about when the f (actually an ſ) became an s and why in English specifically, prompted me to wonder if there was any relationship with ...
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2answers
406 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?
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5answers
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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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2answers
271 views

Why is the English name for Bruges the same as the French despite that it's a Flemish city?

My question is about the name of Bruges, Belgium. In Flemish, Bruges is called "Brugge", and in French, it's called "Bruges". Despite the city being part of the Flemish-speaking region of Belgium, we ...
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1answer
724 views

Schools of Greeks and Romans linguistics [closed]

Which arguments can prove that the Greeks and Romans did not practice linguistics in its modern meaning?
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1answer
221 views

Is Turkish older than Bulgarian?

I've read that Turkish is a very old language, but I can't really find any information on how old Bulgarian is. Which of those two languages is older?
4
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1answer
357 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 ...
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1answer
311 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 ...
6
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1answer
274 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'...
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2answers
494 views

Why does the ASL fingerspelling sign shaped like an 'x' represent R, not X?

In the ASL fingerspelling alphabet, the letters U, V, W, Y, and Z all look similar to the printed English letters. But the sign with the fingers in a x shape is R, and the letter X uses a different ...
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1answer
192 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 ...
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2answers
523 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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1answer
125 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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1answer
366 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?
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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 ...
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2answers
817 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 ...
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4answers
420 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 ...
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2answers
600 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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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 ...
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0answers
80 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 ...