Questions tagged [history]

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

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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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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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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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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Do we have evidence of the transition from -mentum to -ment?

Several English words end in -ment: augment, document, movement, moment, segment, etc. According to several dictionaries, the English -ment suffix is in many cases traced to the French -ment, which in ...
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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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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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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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Weird bump in lower-case country names on Google Ngram

I was entering random names in Google Ngram when I noticed that in the late 80s to early 90s, there is a bump in the occurrence of lower-case European country names. See for example: united kingdom: ...
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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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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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