Questions tagged [linguistic-typology]

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

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82 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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2answers
171 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
381 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,...
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2answers
183 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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100 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
518 views

What does the abreviation INFLNFL stand for and what is the difference between INFLNFL and INFL?

What does the abreviation INFLNFL stand for? What is the meaning of INFLNFL and where does it appear in the syntactic tree-construction?
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1answer
247 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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3answers
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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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4answers
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Is a language possible without verbs or without nouns?

Is a language without nouns possible? And another one without verbs? And other ones without adjectives or adverbs? Is there some real examples? (In preference: non-constructed languages, because ...
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0answers
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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Are languages of different types described by different structures in language trees?

This thought occurred to me after having read a closed question here. I drew five language trees for an identical sentence rendered in five different languages, and the result was quite interesting. ...
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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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1answer
177 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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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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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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1answer
168 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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67 views

“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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2answers
888 views

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 ...
2
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1answer
209 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
83 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, ...
6
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2answers
282 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
89 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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590 views

Which Non-Pama-Nyungan Australian language has the most speakers?

Australian languages are usually classified into two main groups. The first group is a large family spanning the continent, Pama-Nyungan. The other group is not a family but merely an "everything else"...
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1answer
52 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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5answers
2k views

Are sound changes regular?

Are sound changes regular now or not? I mean it seems to me that it's accepted that sound change is pretty regular, because of how sound changes are treated in etymology/historical linguistics. I even ...
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4answers
937 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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2answers
486 views

What are some of the most prefixing languages?

Turkish is commonly cited as an example of a language which is, with only one or two quirky exceptions, exclusively suffixing. Cross-linguistically, suffixing is much commoner than prefixing and I ...
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1answer
100 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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310 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
78 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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2answers
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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971 views

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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How usual is it for languages to have both prepositions and postpositions?

It has seemed to me (though I might be wrong) that languages usually take either prepositions (English, German, Spanish) or postpositions (Japanese, Hungarian, Turkish). (Yes I know sometimes a ...
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72 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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1answer
538 views

Which languages have zero markers of comparative degree that coexist with non-zero comparative markers?

The zero comparative marker and the non-zero one should be more or less interchangeable. (The etymology of the non-zero marker doesn't matter.) (A message asking to list such languages was originally ...
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556 views

Comparative markers coming from low degree markers (“attenuatives”)? (List such languages.)

Which languages have a marker of the comparative degree of adjectives that coincides with a marker of a low degree? ...or which has evolved from such a low degree marker? (A message asking for the ...
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1answer
219 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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3answers
483 views

Are there any languages with minimal distinctions between the noun and verb categories?

Are there any languages in which the, largely Indo-European/PIE, and more compartmentalized parts-of-speech system don't work very well? In particular, I am wondering if there are any languages in ...
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2answers
520 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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1answer
72 views

Are there resources that explore interchange between object and the subject caused by a verb?

1. Are there linguistics terms that describe the following phonemenon? 2. I desire to learn the possible explanations or reasons that in English, certain verbs interchanged the subject and object to ...
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0answers
98 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
125 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
108 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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8answers
4k views

Is the very concept of the phoneme disputed?

I believe there was some important research published in recent decades which brought a fundamental change to the way linguists think about phonemes. Or is it that the concept of the phoneme has ...
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1answer
213 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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1answer
2k views

Is Thai a stress- or syllable-timed language, and does it matter?

We are gearing up for the new semester at the Thai university where I teach English. One course I’ll be helping out with is on English pronunciation. In the unit on sentence stress, the course ...
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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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3answers
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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1answer
140 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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