Questions tagged [linguistic-typology]

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

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4
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1answer
57 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 ...
13
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2answers
6k 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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2answers
156 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
113 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, ...
2
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2answers
104 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 ...
2
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2answers
250 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, ...
22
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2answers
2k 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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2answers
126 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.
0
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4answers
433 views

Is it possible to have a word-based language completely without word inflection?

First, sorry if I'm not using the correct terminology here. By "word-based", I mean typical Indo-European languages (plus Uralic) where there are only tens of characters (e.g. "A to Z" (Latin) or "А ...
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0answers
60 views

Is Haitian Creole morphology fusional?

There are conflicting views regarding how Haitian Creole is classified in relation to its lexifier--French. I am trying to give a good description of Haitian Creole in terms of its morphology. Is ...
5
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1answer
91 views

Are the hebrew prefix letters (משה וכלב) considered a form of agglutination?

An example of this letters can be seen in the word וכשלהתמרמרויותינו where the וכש at start mean "and during to" (the entire word means "and during to our grumblings).
2
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0answers
56 views

Direct–inverse marking on the noun, or the possiblity of inverse alignment

A direct-inverse language, Wikipedia claims, is one which involve[s] different grammar for transitive predications according to the relative positions of their "subject" and their "object" on a ...
5
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3answers
178 views

Is the existence of a mixed branch of Indo-European plausible?

I was thinking about the possible existence of a branch of the Indo-European family that combines features of several branches. For example, a branch that is something in between the Germanic and ...
3
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2answers
181 views

Is “indirect object” syntactically definable or useful, in English or generally?

In traditional English grammar, we're taught that phrases like those boldfaced below are "indirect objects": I gave the book to Ted. I gave Ted the book. But this appears to be based on semantics (...
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2answers
1k views

Are there any languages which inflect the noun for morphosyntactic categories normally reserved for verbs (e.g. tense, aspect, etc.)?

In English (for example), we say "I go/went/was going/etc.", inflecting the verb for tense and aspect while leaving the subject of the sentence unchanged. But are there any languages that would ...
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1answer
98 views

german phonology [closed]

Feature/Map 4: Voicing in plosives and fricatives (by Ian Maddieson) WALS value for German: “in both plosives and fricatives” Comment: Owing to final devoicing, voicing contrasts in Standard ...
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1answer
71 views

What are the inventories for minimalist approach? [closed]

I have questions regarding German phonology. my first question is the example required for minimalist approach. According to Plank, the consonant phoneme counts for Standard German varies between 17 ...
2
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1answer
50 views

Are contour tone system and complex consonant clusters compatible in phonotactics?

Are there any language that have both of these characteristics? I am not sure but I assume that contour tone is unnecessary and uneconomical to be used in every syllable of a language with complex ...
1
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1answer
136 views

Does German have periphrastic causative constructions?

Wals chapter 110: Periphrastic Causative Constructions coded German as "sequential but no purposive". Is there an example of periphrastic causative constructions in German?
12
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1answer
182 views

Are there any languages with only one of “yes” or “no”?

Many modern languages have single words for "yes" and "no" (e.g. English), and some have more than a simple pair (e.g. French), while others have no word for "yes" or "no" (e.g. Latin and Irish). ...
1
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1answer
44 views

Do the WALS chapters cover the core grammatical structure of Spanish?

How complete is their description for the Spanish language? Is it missing something out? Here is the description http://wals.info/languoid/lect/wals_code_spa Thank You
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2answers
101 views

Are there languages that ban t+S (esh) sequences but have a č phoneme?

I’m not expert in typology, but I wonder if it’s possible for a language to ban t+S sequences but have a phoneme č. Does anyone know of an example of one such language?
2
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1answer
104 views

Are there any languages that mark plural before the noun, while everything else comes after?

There's a lot of head-final languages where everything precedes the noun except for the number (Japanese is one example). But are there any that do the reverse? Is there a language where number ...
0
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1answer
155 views

Inclusive pronouns—can there be more than one?

Many languages have two forms of the pronoun "we": an inclusive one and an exclusive one. In the examples I am aware of, there is just one inclusive we, meaning "i/we and you (sg./pl.)". Are there ...
2
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1answer
148 views

Differences among Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese

Is there any research or explanation for the (grammatical, typological) differences among Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese? I am thinking of the fact that Chinese is classed as an Analytic, SVO language,...
3
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1answer
241 views

Are there some languages that do not have infinitives/participles/gerunds?

Are there some languages that do not take their verbs and convert them into verbals (infinitives/participles/gerunds, et al.)? I noticed the Wikipedia article on participles has a number of language ...
3
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1answer
119 views

How to proceed with this Maasai translation?

The problem statement is as follows: Question: Indicate which translation goes with each Maasai sentence. My current approach: The word {word1} appears a total of 8 times in the Maasai sentences ...
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0answers
61 views

Are there languages that don't allow sub-clauses?

In the Language Construction Kit 2, the author makes the assertion that sub-clauses, in particular center-embedded clauses, add complexity. That is obviously true, but he claims that you can make do ...
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1answer
137 views

Why do most Austronesian and Polynesian languages have low consonant vowel ratio?

Refer: WALS feature 3A A simple Google search yielded - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5529419/ which could be one of the reasons. But can anyone come up with some other reasons maybe ...
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0answers
104 views

4 or 5: is thumb a finger? Distribution across languages

Researching the origins of counting systems, I came across the question I cannot seem to find an answer for: what is the typological distribution of languages that consider thumb a finger (5 fingers ...
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0answers
25 views

How are nominal predicates expressed in active-stative languages?

Based on my reading, Active–Stative languages typically feature the core arguments of Agent (AGN) and Patient (PAT). While the precise rules differ by language, it seems to be that for intransitive ...
2
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1answer
100 views

high tone retention

Is high tone retention typologically true? When one of the two adjacent vowels at a word boundary undergoes deletion, one of the two tones also undergoes deletion. And it is said that high tone is ...
4
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1answer
302 views

What grammatical features do SOV languages often share?

I've read that languages with the same word order often have similarities, even if they're not related, purely because some grammatical features will force a language to use others. For instance, if a ...
0
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1answer
54 views

Factorial Typology--determining implicational universals?

For the implicational universal "if a language has voiced obstruents, then it must have voiceless obstruents," what would I have to observe from tableaux to verify its validity? The three main ...
3
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2answers
118 views

What subfield of linguistics studies curious or unique features of natural languages?

Some examples would include (languages in which) males and females use different words, there are no numerals or grammatical gender or number distinction, etc. Is there a field of linguistics that ...
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3answers
206 views

Is there a natural language that doesn’t use an action verb to describe death?

English uses “activity” verbs such as the verb “to be” to describe that a person is dead, as in “He is dead,” or “He died.” Is there a language that doesn’t do this? I know that some languages have ...
9
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1answer
233 views

Are there languages in which adverbs inflect?

Are there any languages in which adverbs (in the sense of verb modifiers) inflect to match the verb they modify?
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1answer
71 views

What is the technical name for declensible languages?

What is the correct nomenclature for languages constructing logical functions through desinences (through declensions) and what for the ones doing it via prepositions?
3
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1answer
83 views

Tone associated to segments other than vowels

Are there languages in which lexical tone can associate to semivowels or glottal stops, or does tone ALWAYS associate only to vowels when it is realized in a spoken word?
1
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1answer
127 views

Are there any configurational languages that AREN'T verb-medial?

Is it true that has a rule, a language where subject and object aren't explicately marked will always have SVO or OVS order? I've been thinking that it may be possible to get away with having no ...
4
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2answers
66 views

Are negative comparative operators like “less” typologically rarer than their positive counterparts?

I'm looking for a reference to the claim that negative comparative operators like "less" are cross-linguistically rarer than their positive counterparts. Is anyone familiar with this claim, and able ...
4
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1answer
99 views

Are there any languages that place subjects and direct objects before the verbs, but everything else after?

I know the Romance languages do this with pronouns, but they don't do this with noun phrases. Are there any natlangs out there where the subject and direct object always precedes the verb, but ...
5
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2answers
74 views

Has there been cross-linguistic work on differential adjective-noun order?

In recent years, a massive amount of attention in linguistics has been devoted to the variation within language varieties of grammatical structures caused by semantic and discourse-pragmatic factors, ...
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0answers
60 views

Is the obligatory omission of tense/aspect/mood marking in polar interrogatives common?

In a language I'm studying for a field methods class, the range of tense/aspect/mood marking on verbs seems to be relatively limited in interrogative clauses. For example, in some verbs, a past tense ...
1
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1answer
234 views

Is case-marking really useful for such languages?

CASES The function of cases is to differentiate nouns in order for the reader/hearer to know what syntactic/semantic function it is performing in a sentence since others languages, such as Portuguese,...
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5answers
888 views

Languages where articles occur to the right of nouns

Are there languages where articles appear—as independent words—on the right-hand side of the noun phrases they occur in - in other words after the head noun in the noun phrase?
4
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1answer
226 views

Machine Translation: Why is Japanese-English the only pair where rules are still used?

The Microsoft Research Machine Translation system (MSR-MT) is actually a hybrid system, using both rules and statistical methods (1) . According to Peter Norvig (2) (emphasis mine): Machine ...
5
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1answer
97 views

Are there languages with both the singulative and the main verb 'have'?

Celtic and Arabic both exhibit singulative forms and both lack the verb 'have'. I would like to know whether there are are singulative languages that have the main verb 'have'.
4
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3answers
689 views

What do languages without a schwa vowel have in common?

This is a follow up to this answer were the OP makes the point that the schwa vowel (a.k.a. central or neutral vowel) is produced when other vowels are reduced to that sound. It makes perfect sense ...