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Questions tagged [language-families]

Groupings of languages which can all be traced back to a common ancestor language they evolved from, for instance the Romance languages are all descended from Latin.

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36 votes
6 answers
14k views

Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

According to this Wikipedia page Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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30 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to "person"?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
Alenanno's user avatar
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28 votes
4 answers
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Do the Khoisan languages resemble the world's first language?

I have read somewhere that if there ever was a world's first language*, that language must have had very much in common** with the Khoisan languages. Arguments in support of this hypothesis are: ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
16 votes
5 answers
2k views

Do linguists measure the relation distance between languages? How?

Sometimes, I read passages like: Languages X, Y and Z in region A are closely related to each other, comparable to French, Italian and Spanish in Western Europe. The discussion in the question "Do ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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23 votes
5 answers
6k views

How did Korean become a language isolate?

According to most linguists, Korean is a language isolate. Why doesn't it have any sister languages, like languages usually do? Why didn't it spread to other areas, or split into various languages? ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
3k views

How can mutual intelligibility be measured?

What ways do we have of measure the mutual intelligibility of two given languages? It's easy enough to realise if there is a degree of mutual intelligibility between your own language variety and ...
Danger Fourpence's user avatar
14 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

Suppose language A and language B belong to the same language family. And suppose the speakers of language A understand language B a lot better than the speakers of language B understand language A. ...
dobrze's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Origins of Turkic language family? Alternatives to Altaic?

I was just reading about various Altaic language grouping hypotheses on wikipedia. According the article, evidence for an Altaic language family that would include Turkic, Uralic, Mongolian, Tungusic, ...
Thomas Shaw's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are there other pairs of languages that are as close grammatically despite not being in the same language family as Korean and Japanese?

Though there are many theories grouping Korean and Japanese in the same family, none of these are widely accepted by linguists. Yet the grammars of these two languages are extremely similar in many ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is the current understanding of Greenberg's classification of African languages?

In a reply to the criticism of his classification of the languages of the Americas, Greenberg (1989: 107) characterized his work on African languages as follows: [...] my classification is clearly ...
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13 votes
2 answers
797 views

Is there any case of a "convergent language family"?

As far as I know, language families originate from a process of divergent, tree-like evolution. All the languages within a family or subfamily can be traced back to the same proto-language, which was ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Distinguishing dialects objectively: lexical sets in non-English settings

The concept of lexical set is a useful technique for differentiating accents or dialects within a language. A lexical set is a set of all words/syllables that are pronounced with the same vowel. These ...
Mitch's user avatar
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10 votes
4 answers
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Is there a named common ancestor of Germanic and Latin besides "Indo-European"?

I was just answering a question about the origins of English and Latin and wanted to talk about their common ancestors but ran into a surprising problem. So we know the majority of languages in ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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9 votes
7 answers
11k views

Are Semitic and Indo-European languages at all related?

I can't help but notice word pairs between Arabic and some European languages that seem to be cognate, such as: Sabah "seven"/ German Sieben also "seven" Ktab "book"/ English tablet (both something ...
Harry Anderson's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Does an affinity between languages necessitate that the speakers be ethnically related?

It is generally assumed that semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic are similar because the speakers of those languages are ethnically related and share a common ancestry. In other words, A Hebrew ...
Bach's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
3k views

Modern Khmer and modern Vietnamese genetic proximity

I know that Khmer and Vietnamese are considered genetically related (Austroasian language family) but I don't know what were and/or are significant commonalities to justify that consideration. I also ...
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0 votes
1 answer
95 views

Can Tungusic and Mongolic be a language family that has same root

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16qyiuz4-rFJl0W1BHbFxA2Ujv9Qp7Key/view?usp=share_link Mongolic language family book pdf https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tGPEMAgZRqBiuFT4vJrvf41NXxlANjpg/view?usp=...
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0 votes
1 answer
2k views

How much Lithuanian and Romanian languages are mutually intelligible?

I have heard that Lithuanian and Romanian are related. As such, I want to know, to what extent they are mutually intelligible.
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