Questions tagged [linguistic-typology]

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

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1answer
110 views

Does “adding a sixth” mean adding a fifth?

I seem to recall hearing that French francophones say the French equivalent of "in three days" where anglophones say "in two days". (I don't speak French, and can't vouch for it.) That, coupled with a ...
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138 views

What approaches exist to categorizing kinds of passive agent markers and what are their advantages?

For my thesis I would like to conduct a study on the cross-linguistic distribution of agent markers in passives. In English, this marker is usually realized by the preposition 'by', as in (including a ...
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61 views

Is there a database that has information on the typological variation of honorific systems?

For a class project, I need a typology of the grammatical honorific systems of the world's languages. Specifically, I need to categorize languages into whether they have honorifics for second or third ...
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5answers
429 views

Is the concept of a verb-subject complete sentence a cultural/linguistic invariant?

In english, a 'complete sentence' seems to refer to having at least a single, complete clause — i.e. a subject (noun) and verb — e.g. "I run". This seems to be engrained in the concept of a complete ...
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Defining Linguistics

Studying Japanese, I finally broke the mindset of trying to turn Japanese phrases into English phrases. Doing this has made the study of Japanese much easier for me. Then I got to thinking, usually I ...
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2answers
329 views

How do caseless ergative languages work?

It is well-known that some ergative languages lack morphological case. If there is no case, where does their ergativity show up?
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0answers
173 views

Languages with 0 Number?

Languages that conjugate nominals for singular vs. plural number are quite common across the world. Languages which also have a dual conjugation are also fairly common. But is there any language which ...
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3answers
254 views

relative complexity of languages

Often, when talking casually about languages, people will say that one language is harder to learn than another. I always thought that this was a common misconception, and that other than the ...
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4answers
603 views

What sub-field in linguistics should I study to help me learn foreign languages? [closed]

I'm interested in languages and linguistics, can speak a few languages (English, French, Mandarin, some German, Japanese, and Esperanto) and would like to eventually learn more (Japanese, Spanish, ...
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1answer
707 views

Is there a language without words which correspond to the concepts 'I', 'They', 'We'

I was wondering if a language exists without the ability to express the notions of 'I', 'We', 'they' etc. Would it be possible to communicate without these concepts being expressible as a ...
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2answers
185 views

Is there a good introduction to subjectivity in language?

Since the topic of "subjectivity in language" is all new to me, I am looking for an introduction to the topic that 1) gives an overview of the phenomena usually associated with the topic (...
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2answers
2k views

English verbs - how many types/classifications?

I've been looking at English to help my teen out, readying for college. Didn't realise how little I knew. In this specific case, I'm stuck with the large number of types of verb - finite/infinite, ...
3
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1answer
795 views

Does subject precede object in all natural languages?

From here : English and Chinese, for example, put the subject first, the verb in the middle, and the object at the end for an SVO word order. Irish and Biblical Hebrew are VSO languages that ...
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2answers
259 views

Is this nominal suffix more inflectional or derivational?

So, I'm working on this conlang as part of my work and the deliverable is a simple grammar. To facilitate reference, I've divided up the suffixes between inflectional and derivational forms. But of ...
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3answers
462 views

Pro-Drop Typology in Indo-European Languages

A different question made me wonder what is the norm for Indo-European with regard to pro-drop? I know Italic languages generally do it, while Germanic languages generally don't. What about the rest ...
2
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1answer
249 views

Evidentiality: Aspect or Modality?

I was curious about evidentiality. In Turkish, evidentiality can be seen as {-mIş} suffix, but English does not have any suffix to express. Take a look at this sentence: Babası ona yeni ayakkabı ...
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3answers
342 views

Which languages use possessive adjectives as their primary way of expressing possession?

By "possessive adjective" here I mean a fully productive form which is derived from a noun, inflected like an adjective (including agreeing with its head noun in whatever categories other adjectives ...
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4answers
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What is known or believed about the origin of Semitic-type root-and-template morphology?

How does nonconcatenative morphology of the Semitic type (consonantal roots, vocalic templates + affixes) arise diachronically? It's pretty easy to see how a nonconcatenative inflectional system ...
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80 views

Is there a way to distinguish habitualis from generic interpretation?

I'm looking for a way to classify a given sentence as either habitualis or generic in a language where neither is a grammatical category. Thus, it should be a some semantic feature of the sentence. ...
3
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1answer
130 views

Alternatives to the Perfect Aspect

In English and (at least a portion of) other Indo-European languages the perfect aspect's foremost role is that of a discourse marker, marking prior events (or events beginning in the past and ...
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0answers
207 views

Across languages that have adjectives, what are the most common grammatical inflections for adjectives?

Not all languages have adjectives; some use adjectival nouns ("red.one" instead of "red") and/or stative verbs ("be.red" instead of "red"). Among languages that have adjectives, not all allow ...
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1answer
402 views

Is the case described below hypothetical or does it occur in natural languages?

Suppose that you have a language, let's say it's SVO, has a clause pattern in which the subject typically stands for an agent or experiencer and the object typically stands for a patient or stimulus, ...
3
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1answer
292 views

Root reduplication to mean singular

In different languages reduplication of the root serves as a means to express plurality (Malay 'orang' - 'a person', 'orang-orang' - 'people') or a greater degree (Russian 'много' - 'many, much', '...
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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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1answer
378 views

Languages with subordinate imperatives?

English does not allow an imperative to be used in a subordinate clause: Eat that pizza! *There's a pizza on the table, which eat! (="which I order you to eat") *I told you eat that pizza! (A ...
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2answers
244 views

The “affectee-subject HAVE” construction in English

English has a somewhat unusual construction exemplified by sentences like the following: He had his car stolen. He had his house repossessed. He's had three books published. These are different from ...
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1answer
645 views

Classification of Relative Clauses in English

While reading the wikipedia article on relative clauses, I was puzzled somewhat by a description of a relative clause in English. It asserts that in the relative clause "that I saw yesterday", as in "...
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2answers
203 views

Are ditransitives (or tritransitives?) cross-linguistically attested?

I'm only really familiar with English and a few European languages, so to my mind it is normal for a language to have a double object construction and/or an NP-PP construction, as in John gave [...
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1answer
450 views

Constituent Order and Alignment

Seeing What might "S/A-V-O" and "A/S-V-O" mean? reminded me of something I've wondered at various points in the past. I'm familiar with the different clause constituent orders (SVO,...
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1answer
464 views

What might “S/A-V-O” and “A/S-V-O” mean?

In looking through Google Books's preview of A Grammar of Lao by N. J. Enfield, I came across these two terms, which I'm assuming are equivalent to one another (possibly one is even a typo) and some ...
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1answer
125 views

Singular versus plural in certain locutions: Is there a name for this?

I wouldn't touch that idea with a ten-foot pole. He's a tool maker. In Germany, Catholics and Lutherans pay a church tax. The zebra stripes indicate a pedestrian crossing. He is a resident of an ...
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3answers
326 views

In what ways does English syntax compensate for its low number of inflectional morphemes?

Two native German speakers have each told me that conversational English is easy to learn because its number of case-endings, agreement morphemes, and other grammatical morphemes is small. However, ...
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1answer
976 views

Linguistics, a discipline or a field?

This is a two-fold level questions. Question about linguistics from the view point of linguistics. I am interested whether linguistics is a field of science/research or is it a discipline? The next ...
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308 views

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages?

What are the most common reasons for (synchronic) word-order changes in isolating languages? From what I’ve read, word order in isolating languages can be changed even when the constituents in the ...
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2answers
223 views

How many moras in [steak]? I produced two moras.

I drew the syllable structure for steak, and I deduced that 'st' is one cluster and forms part of the onset instead of the rhyme. So that leaves the rhyme with eI and k which will give me two moras. ...
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2answers
1k views

How common is phonemic vowel length across languages?

Including different kinds of length distinctions, such as in stressed syllables only, or stressed and unstressed, etc.
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229 views

Languages with vowel-based “radicals” inflected or derived by changing consonants?

Semitic languages are known for doing quite a bit of their inflection and derivation not via adfixes but via modifications around a triliteral radical of three consonants. But I'm wondering if there'...
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0answers
162 views

Which prefixing language has the most speakers?

Most if not all national or widely spoken languages with an inflecting or agglutinating typology do all of their inflecting at the end of the word. These are called "suffixing languages". This is ...
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4answers
7k views

Is there any agglutinative Indo-European language?

It seems like Indo-European languages are always stuck between throwing away complicated fusional grammar (like English) or retaining most of it (like Russian). Are there any Indo-European languages ...
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2answers
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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3answers
455 views

Are there any specific traits in Italian which make it different from other Romance languages?

Although Wikipedia says 'the grammar is typical of the grammar of Romance languages', I suppose some ancient Italic (or perhaps even pre-italic) traits might prevail. I am especially curious about ...
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76 views

Is there a correspondence between contextual semantics and the type of language?

Most of the isolating languages I am familiar with have context-bound semantics either in division into parts of speech (e.g. Chinese) or word meaning (Yoruba), or both (Chinese, again). E.g., in ...
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1answer
509 views

Constituents of language

Suppose we take the view that language is a tool for communication. What would be the basic, or essential, constituents of a language? Some examples that come to mind: a set of words a set of ...
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85 views

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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1answer
514 views

Are there any languages with verbs that require more than three arguments?

Are there any languages some of whose verbs require more than three arguments? I was thinking of causative constructions, such that "Mike had John give Sally the ring" could be expressed with one ...
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0answers
103 views

Is there any universal semantic coding for noun cases similar to verb aspectology?

I am aware of the argument/actant theories, but perhaps there is something like universal semantical coding for the nouns as well. For Argument concepts,you can see the relevant Wikipedia page for ...
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1answer
152 views

How do we know how many languages exist?

I've read that between 3000 and 6000 languages are spoken on Earth. My question is the following: how do people calculate that number?
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4k views

Are there any languages that are more analytic than English other than Afrikaans in the Indo-European family?

Are there any languages that are more analytic than (or as analytic as) English other than Afrikaans in the Indo-European family?
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What are the job opportunities in linguistics? [closed]

I like learning new languages so I am curious in getting a degree in linguistics. What kind of jobs are available as a linguist? What are the opportunities available in this field? From what I am ...
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384 views

Which indigenous languages have marked Ancestral/Mythological Past in grammars?

I have found a mention on such a system among some South American native languages in Adam Jacot de Boinod's book I Never Knew There's A Word For It. Non-academic reading, which doesn't make it less ...