Questions tagged [linguistic-typology]

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

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22
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7answers
2k views

In languages with grammatical gender, how do they determine the gender when a new word has been created?

In languages with grammatical gender that has (almost) no morphological relation between the words and the genders(e.g. French), how do they determine the gender of a new word that has been introduced/...
3
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1answer
278 views

A syntactic approach to possessives

I am currently writing an essay in linguistic typology on possessives. I got stuck in the last part, in which I am supposed to present a syntactic approach to the structure of possessives. I should ...
6
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1answer
306 views

Word order typology in Germanic

I am not a native speaker of English, but I study English and Dutch. I have noticed that the two languages differ in their degree of flexibility. The following sentence, for example, is not acceptable ...
0
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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?
3
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1answer
277 views

Dimensions of a verb

A single verb usually describes an action or state --the common dimension of verb among languages. But in addition to that it may convey more information e.g. tense, person, gender of subject, ...
12
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6answers
5k views

What languages are the most similar to English?

I speak English and Bengali with similar proficiency, at least in the 'lower' registers of the languages. Since I was a small child in a bilingual home I've been struck by how, despite having ...
69
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12answers
23k views

What characteristics are unique to English (or at least rare among language as a whole)?

After wondering about this today at work, I turned to the Internet. A short piece that focuses on pronunciation points toward "none". I've scoured ELU and Google (perhaps not as thoroughly or ...
7
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1answer
7k views

What is the difference between syllable-timing and stress-timing?

From what I've heard, syllable-timed languages have syllables of equal length throughout each breath-group (i.e. bit of spoken discourse said in one breath), and stress-timed languages have breath-...
2
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0answers
345 views

What are some theoretical motivations for do-support?

I've been attempting to put together an overview of the various theoretical motivations that have been proposed for do-support in the literature, but the topic has been frustratingly difficult to ...
6
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1answer
607 views

Citations for morpheme/word counts?

(Edited to provide context and clarify what I'm interested in) Context: I am reading a paper that involves comparing German, Dutch, and English. German is the outlier for the phenomena and measures ...
11
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3answers
309 views

About how much does language typology correlate with genetic relationships among languages?

About how much does language typology correlate with genetic relationships among languages? For example, should we expect most Sino-Tibetan languages to be isolating, or most Indo-European languages ...
11
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5answers
2k views

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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2answers
1k views

Where is Welsh on the analytic/synthetic spectrum?

I believe it's traditionally been held to be more on the synthetic side of the spectrum, but why? Are there any quantitative analyses to back this up?
11
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2answers
3k views

Gender of mixed groups defaulting to masculine – how common?

French has that rule that whenever a masculine entity is part of a group, the whole NP will default to masculine as far as agreement goes. My native language, German, also defaults gender to masculine,...
3
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1answer
2k views

Distinction between definiteness and specificity

May I have an example of a language which separately marks definiteness and specificity (or indefiniteness and non-specificity), and also a principled way for deciding which of the two sets of terms ...
7
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1answer
591 views

Consonant length-differences by prominence

In a language I am studying I have just noticed a significant but subtle difference in the length of [f] segments in tonic versus atonic syllables (an ~50ms difference which is statistically ...
6
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2answers
738 views

Are there any “universal” aspects to “adjective sequence”

Whilst it's by no means a "fixed rule", it seems to me the normal sequence for multiple adjectives applied to a single noun/verb in English does indeed tend to correspond to the top answer given in ...
41
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9answers
11k views

What is word order used for in “free word order” languages?

Consider languages whose case-systems allow the order of arguments to be changed without changing the arguments’ grammatical relations. (Note the 189 languages noted as having “no dominant word-...
7
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1answer
430 views

Is there a proposed parameter of 'copula-drop'?

There is a property of languages with respect to copula (a verb 'to be' to mark equivalent thing): the copula may be necessary, or prohibited (and more complex mixtures of necessary and prohibited. ...
9
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2answers
699 views

Uniformitarianism in diachronic typology

Croft 2003 argues that "the typological universals discovered in contemporary languages should also apply to ancient and reconstructed languages" (the so called uniformitarian hypothesis, p. 233). How ...
6
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5answers
312 views

Traits that are common in the Americas and rare elsewhere

I'm looking for examples of typological traits that are common in languages of the Americas and rare in languages elsewhere. Traits could be at any level of description — phonological, ...
2
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1answer
85 views

Do we have any idea how widespread NPIs are?

Most languages have words that function as negative polarity items. Is this believed to be true of all human languages? Are there specific languages that have been plausibly claimed not to have any ...
9
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1answer
277 views

What's a simple example of how Mongolian is radically dependent-marking?

In Johanna Nichols' book Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time, I came across the passage on page 146, where she asserts that Japanese, Mongolian, Dyirbal, and Yawelmani are all radically dependent-...
10
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3answers
2k views

What are the alternate morphological typologies to isolating, agglutinative, fusional, polysyntehtic, etc.?

The above typology seems to also be called "Humboldt-Schleicherian". While reading this answer in the question "Is there really a difference between agglutinative and non-agglutinative languages when ...
36
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4answers
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Is there really a difference between agglutinative and non-agglutinative languages when spoken?

What's the difference between agglutinative and non-agglutinative languages when spoken? According to my understanding, agglutinative languages typically join prefixes and suffixes extensively. For ...
4
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3answers
4k views

German is SOV: should it not have been “Ich ein Berliner bin”?

German is typically described as a Subject-Object-Verb language. For former American President Kennedy's mistake to be grammatical (i.e. without the indefinite article "ein"), why should it not have ...
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5answers
400 views

What are the different ways in which languages express the notion of passivity?

In English, the passive is expressed by the use of an auxiliary and past participle. The agent is demoted to an optional by-phrase, and the theme/patient is promoted to the subject position. Rome ...
7
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1answer
1k views

How common is word order change?

During the course of their development, the word order of some languages change. Examples include Latin (SOV) that changed to SVO in the Romance languages, Proto-Austronesian (verb initial) that ...
8
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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 ...
5
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0answers
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 ...
14
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2answers
14k views

What's the difference between accusative, unaccusative, ergative, and unergative?

What does it mean for a language or verb to be one or the other of these typologies (examples would help)? Can it be more than one at once?
11
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1answer
302 views

Are there any databases of geographical language distribution?

I'm wondering whether anyone knows of any machine parsable database of the geographical distribution of natural languages (for example the geographical distribution of (native) speakers)? I know WALS ...
18
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6answers
6k views

What's the global difference between nouns and verbs?

Is there a way to distinguish nouns and verbs that applies to all languages? This problem has been occupying my mind for some time now. I'm not quite sure how to approach this question, so I'll just ...
13
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4answers
1k views

Why do tone and simple syllable structure appear to be correlated?

I happen to have been struggling to learn a bit of Mandarin Chinese lately, and it's been my first attempt to really deal with tones to any significant extent. I find distinguishing tones quite ...
7
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3answers
482 views

Are there some analyses or linguists with the view that Chinese does not have lexical word class?

I'm not a linguist but a language enthusiast and I read lots of stuff about all languages mostly on the internet in blogs but also in accessible books and sometimes attempt to read some things not ...
3
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1answer
215 views

Is there a database of interlinear glosses of subordination-examples?

I'm currently investigating the typology of subordination, or to be more precise adverbial subordination, and would like to see the data that the existing analyses, like for instance Cristofaro (2005) ...
13
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2answers
2k views

Are any of the isolating languages of East Asia showing signs of gaining inflections?

It's generally accepted that languages go through a cycle of changes to their morphological type. English is losing its inflectional endings and becoming more isolating/analytic. But what about the ...
35
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13answers
3k views

Are there languages with other spatial deixis besides “here”, “there” and “over there”?

When it comes to spatial deixis most languages seem to have either two or three distinctions: 2 | 3 English | Spanish Japanese ------------------------------ here | aquí / acá koko ...
8
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1answer
653 views

Relationship between SOV word order and osV prefixes

I've been reading about the Native American language isolate Washo, and looking at the Universals Archive. If an ergative language is SOV, the object and subject affixes will be prefixes and the main ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Is there a term for the theory that languages move from one morphological typology to the next in a fixed cycle?

There is a well known theory, widely accepted that as languages evolve their morphological typology changes through the same usual steps. The major steps are I think isolating or analytic, inflected, ...
14
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7answers
760 views

“Overabundant nouns” in Italian: do they exist in other languages?

Under my answer to that question, I talked about a category of nouns that exist in Italian. The italian name is "Nomi sovrabbondanti" or "sostantivi sovrabbondanti", the meaning is roughly "...
15
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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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