Questions tagged [history]

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

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3
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2answers
237 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
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1answer
101 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 ...
3
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1answer
186 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
88 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 ...
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0answers
102 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 ...
3
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0answers
134 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, ...
2
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1answer
301 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 ...
2
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2answers
288 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 ...
2
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1answer
146 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 ...
2
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2answers
361 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 ...
2
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1answer
486 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 ...
2
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1answer
91 views

How much evidence of written language is needed to accurately define English in a particular period of history?

In older variations of English in history, how much evidence of written language samples is needed to accurately define the grammar and usage of that period? For example, if we want to define how ...
2
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1answer
130 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 ...
2
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1answer
146 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 &...
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2answers
78 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 ...
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2answers
954 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
527 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?
2
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1answer
115 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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0answers
136 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 ...
2
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0answers
81 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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0answers
409 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
126 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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2answers
119 views

History of language- how come rules are followed?

Thinking about languages- I speak a few- I find it fascinating that languages follow rules across the board. Of course there are important exceptions in each language, where we just have to memorize ...
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1answer
355 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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1answer
238 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
901 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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3answers
230 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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1answer
103 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
764 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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2answers
93 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 ...
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1answer
91 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
75 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, ...
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1answer
248 views

What was the most usual and most recent system of writing Korean without any hangul at all?

It's proving quite difficult to learn some of the facts about written Korean before hangul was given official status by the government. We know that metal movable type printing was inventing in Korea ...
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1answer
154 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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0answers
89 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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0answers
150 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
82 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
121 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 ...
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2answers
134 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 ...
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1answer
1k 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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0answers
113 views

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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2answers
447 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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2answers
57 views

Branch of linguistics: civilisations (empires/hegemony) and languages

What branch of linguistics deals with the relationship between languages and hegemony, such as, for example - when Classical Latin became the official language of the Roman Empire, alongside Greek, ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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1answer
104 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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1answer
692 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
302 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 ...
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1answer
727 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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1answer
127 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
172 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 ...