Questions tagged [linguistic-typology]

The study of structural features, diversity and commonalities among the world's languages.

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2answers
159 views

Are there languages where vowels are always oral?

I was surprised to find in Zsiga (2020: 120, 125) a claim (by Donegan & Stampe 2009) that vowels in Hawaiian, as well as oral vowels in French, are always oral. Unfortunately Donegan & Stampe ...
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1answer
26 views

What is the nominal attribute in Milewski's typology?

The wikipedia page on Milewski Typology gives 6 divisions: Milewski proposed a division of languages into 6 groups, based upon consideration of 4 main syntactic relationships; these were: the ...
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1answer
185 views

Are analytic languages easier to learn compared to synthetic languages?

I believe the Czech linguist Karel Oliva mentioned it somewhere that analytic languages are like a hill - one can make a progress relatively easily from the beginning but there's always more to learn (...
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55 views

rules of syllogistic logic in an OVS or OSV language

I am looking to write the present the rules of Aristotelian syllogistic logic in a language that would be unfamiliar to my mostly-American students. So I thought I would do it in an OVS or OSV ...
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2answers
124 views

Do any languages fail to distinguish “who and ”what"?

English distinguishes interrogative pronouns "who" referring to humans and "what" referring to non-humans, and the same distinction is made in Lushootseed, any Bantu languages that ...
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178 views

What other languages, apart from Latin, mix elements from different syntactic constituents? And why mixing?

Latin has a curious syntactic possibility, which is mixing elements from different constituents, like in the sentence Mors et vita duello conflixere mirando which is translated by Wiktionary as ...
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2answers
195 views

Conditional clauses, use of 'if, then, else' in major non-English languages?

Are there major languages in the world that construct conditional clauses differently than English? That is, the translation of "if" and associated words would not be direct due to different ...
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105 views

Are there any known linguistic patterns that cause the verb “have” to take on this additional function?

I'm a native English speaker that has been learning Mandarin. The Mandarin equivalent to the English verb "to have" is "有". As far as I can tell these two words are a 1 to 1 ...
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1answer
311 views

Why is reconstructed PIE so typologically unusual?

I'm probably not the first to notice that a large number of features of reconstruct Proto-Indo-European are typological irregularities. The most famous of these probably being the voiceless/voiced/...
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39 views

Resolving adjoined relative clause with head nouns

In languages with adjoined relative clause, How do you know which relative clause maps to which head noun for adjoined relative clause if there are 2 head nouns each with an adjoined relative clause?
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1answer
212 views

Are there any languages with gender neutral pronouns for unknown gender?

There are proposals to introduce in several languages gender-neutral pronouns to refer to groups of mixed gender or single individuals of unknown gender. Are there examples of existing languages that ...
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34 views

What would be the collective noun for collection of words whose affixal markers indicate the same grammatical categories?

I am working on Sanskrit, a fusional language. I am confused about what should be the collective noun that I should be used to address the set {nominals, verb, adverb, indeclinable, participle}. Could ...
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69 views

inflected languages other than IE and Semitic ones

When one looks for examples of inflected languages outside the Indo-European and, perhaps, Semitic domains, it seems that there is none. Does anyone here know other examples in different linguistic ...
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“The more the merrier”

What is the linguistic status of utterances like "The more, the merrier"? In English it would not be considered a sentence because there is no verb. Yet, it fully stands on its own ...
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4answers
1k views

Can languages restrict their number of distinct syllables when written by syllabaries?

Disclaimer: I am not a linguist, please provide any corrections for terminology. From How languages compare with the number of different syllables from all words?, Yoon Mi Oh's thesis counted the ...
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How languages compare with the number of different syllables from all words?

Note: I am not a linguist, please provide any corrections for terminology. I would like to find some approximate data (if it exists) comparing several languages with the number of different syllables ...
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1answer
211 views

Spelling of monotonous [closed]

All, I am just curious why 'monotonous' is spelled as mo·​not·​o·​nous and not as mono.tonus following the Greek origin of the word as mono + tone. Mono and tone could be spelled alone and actually ...
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1answer
175 views

Mistakes in Native Language

I was wondering if there is some research on the number of mistakes made by native speakers in certain languages? I think that since some languages are more complex (their grammar is more complex) and ...
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1answer
84 views

Are there languages with separate words for 'mouth opening' and 'mouth cavity'?

I am looking for languages which have separate words for the visible opening of the mouth (the external part, including or not including the lips), and the cavity (the internal part). Put another way, ...
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2answers
306 views

Are there languages where pronouns are marked entirely with conjugations?

I know of languages (Arabic in particular comes to mind) where the subject pronoun can be dropped because verb conjugation encodes at least as much information as a pronoun might. I also know that ...
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1answer
92 views

Isn't the supposed development in German “schön” > “schon” typologically unlikely

schon - yet, already schön - well, nice, pretty, beautiful Wiktionary has schon from an old German word equivalent to modern schön. I think this is typologically unlikely, though of course my sample ...
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1answer
53 views

Is there an adposition type that occurs before both the modified noun and the object?

From what I've read, there are four attested types of adpositions. Prepositions and postpositions are the most common, but circumpositions (discontinuous morphemes that occur around their objects) ...
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1answer
103 views

Are there natural languages that tolerate ambiguity between abilitive and possibilitive modalities?

In other words, is there any language that uses the same mood to convey ability and possibility? For example, is there a language in which a sentence meaning "He'll be able to do that" and "He might ...
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349 views

What does Eastern Aramaic have to say about “(definite) articles are acquired, not lost”?

The current answers on Definite/indefinite articles vs. inflections agree that (definite) articles are acquired by languages, not lost. I'm wondering what Eastern Aramaic has to say about this. ...
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1answer
85 views

Outside of English, is there a difference between noun infinitives and gerunds?

In English class in high school, we learn (or at least I did) about verbals, words that stem from verbs but do not function as verbs. Two kinds are infinitives and gerunds. Infinitives are usually ...
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222 views

Is there empirical support for this implicational universal: “if a language has no plural morphology, it has no tense marking”?

The WALS map that crossclassifies number and past tense morphology shows that they tend to covary. I want to know if people with a deeper knowledge of linguistic typology can vouch for this ...
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75 views

What are the unique features of the Australian Aboriginal Languages compared to other world languages

Not looking phonologically but grammatically, what are the languages which would be a good reference point for starting studies in Australian Aboriginal languages? Western Desert Language? Others? Are ...
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3answers
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what is the essential difference between human languages to other earthly animalia languages?

I personally define "language" as a system of body actions that are generally supplemented by sound, representing one or more "meaning" or "message" (logic datum) for an organism itself and/or other ...
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232 views

Are all “Ergative Languages” split-ergative?

I've noticed that in a lot of examples of "ergative languages," there is some piece of the language that does not fit the pattern we call "ergativity." For example, Basque does not mark ergative case ...
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104 views

How common are languages with different word orders in matrix and non-matrix clauses

How common is it cross-linguistically for a language to have a different word order in various types of embedded clauses such as relative clauses? WALS appears to collect information on word order in ...
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1answer
128 views

Distribution and origin of reflexive pronouns like “myself” across languages

I'm neither a professional linguist nor a native English speaker, please excuse me if I use any term incorrectly. Feel free to make and suggest edits to make my question more clear. Question Hello, I ...
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1answer
113 views

Some scholars says that you cannot make the plural and feminine form of word Allah from arabic linguistic perspective [closed]

Is it possible from arabic linguistic perspective to make the plural and feminine form of word الله? for example اللهون plural form of word الله and اللت feminine form of word الله because in Arabic, ...
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1answer
263 views

Glottal stops- comparative frequency among commonly spoken languages

I'm a brand new member who enjoys words and languages but I am not a trained linguist. Which common languages of the world, and families of languages, are considered the most glottal (most glottal ...
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3k views

Phonetic distortion when words are borrowed among languages

When languages borrow words from other languages, they sometimes deliberately distort words to make them phonetically easier to pronounce. For example, when Japanese speakers are taught the word "...
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1answer
426 views

What type of language ( tonal, pitch- stressed etc.) is Tamil? [closed]

Languages are classified according to tones, stress, pitch etc. What type is Tamil language?
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10k views

Is English tonal for some words, like “permit”?

I have heard the difference between tone and intonation described in the following way: Tone is when the pitch of a word determines its meaning. Intonation is when the pitch of a word conveys its ...
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2answers
567 views

Are there languages that inflect adverbs for gender

Triggered by this answer, I am curious: Are there languages that inflect adverbs for gender or noun class? I have consulted the following two questions but the given inflections of adverbs in their ...
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8answers
4k views

What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

This is on purpose not a very concrete question, I simply want to know some interesting properties other languages have that English doesn't, or features you even think English ought to have, this can ...
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0answers
35 views

What is sentence focus environment?

I am currently reading a chapter about dialect that distinguish dialects according to the alignment that is used in the dialect (alignment such as nominative-accusative, tripartite. etc) I am ...
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3answers
254 views

What are the reasons to justify that some text is in X language?

Let us say that I am in a library alone and I have a text that I think that is in X language, for example, this fragment of the 9th chapter of the 2nd part of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, that I ...
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4answers
978 views

Is a text with orthographic or grammatic mistakes in a language X still a text in that language X?

Let us suppose that we have a text that in its majority follows the orthographic or grammatical rules of a language X, but 10% of the words have orthographic mistakes, and 10% of the sentences have ...
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1answer
131 views

Ease of L2 acquisition of SOV and SVO/VSO word order

Is it easier for speakers of SOV languages to learn SOV/VSO syntax or vice versa? I've been reading about constructed languages recently, specifically the ones intended to be easy to learn such as ...
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3answers
7k views

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

In Spanish, there are the "vosotros" (only used in Spain) and "ustedes" (formal in Spain) forms for use when talking to a group of people. These also use specific conjugations different different from ...
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202 views

Are there languages where this “is” phrase is reversed?

"A cat is an animal". "Is a cat an animal?" I have a theory that the word order here is important. One must first put the image of a "cat" in your brain BEFORE recognising if it is an "animal". For ...
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2answers
143 views

Can we predict language death just by looking at grammar?

Is it possible to predict that a language is about to die out just by looking at its structure? So without taking into account the number of native speakers it has and other external factors? If so, ...
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3answers
151 views

Which (australian aboriginal?) language classifies nouns in “upright” things and “lying” things?

I'm quite sure I remember that in one class, while we were talking about aboriginal languages, the professor said that one language or more languages, classify nouns in the two categories from the ...
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5answers
1k views

What's weird about Proto-Indo-European Stops?

I was reading Wikipedia, and it maintains that it's unusual for a language to have a voiceless-voiced-breathy distinction (without a voiceless aspirated), but that the Sanskrit 4-way distinction is ...
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2answers
341 views

What causes relative frequency of consonants?

So, can you point me to some research, what causes the relative frequency of consonants in various languages?The fact that vowels are more common than consonants is obviously caused by phonotactics, ...
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2answers
3k views

Fourth person (in Slavey language)

I was reading a Wikipedia article about the Slavey (Slave) language in Canada, and it says that Slavey has first, second, third and fourth person. I've never heard about a language having a fourth ...
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492 views

Is it really impossible for two different languages to have the exact same set of phonemes?

Is it really impossible for two different languages to have the exact same set of phonemes? I read that somewhere and wanted to know if it was true.

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