Questions tagged [history]

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

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20
votes
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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
3
votes
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 ...
28
votes
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 ...
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 ...
9
votes
1answer
648 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
613 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) ...
15
votes
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 ...
11
votes
2answers
409 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?
4
votes
3answers
828 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 ...
0
votes
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
275 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'...
4
votes
1answer
358 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
2answers
820 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 ...
3
votes
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 ...