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Questions tagged [theoretical-linguistics]

Refers either to abstract and often mathematical theories focused more on explanation and generalization than on application, or the discussion of these theories' properties.

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Are there any languages that either effectively don't have verbs or that somehow get around using a "standard" verb system?

By this, I'm asking whether there are languages (natural or constructed) which somehow function without verbs, relying instead upon other types of words like prepositions or something like that. ...
Morella Almånd's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
120 views

Does Reduplication oppose any Gricean Maxim?

Reduplication (a natural language feature) which changes meaning, pluralize, emphasize etc. is basically doubling of the word, partially doubling it or doubling it with phonetic constraints. Grice's ...
WiccanKarnak's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
565 views

Is generative grammar a theory or an approach?

I am trying to understand the first sentence of Wikipedia's page on generative grammar: Generative grammar is a linguistic theory that regards grammar as a system of rules that generates exactly ...
SAH's user avatar
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0 answers
202 views

Dissecting an unknown language sample with nothing but an interpretation thereof?

So let's just say that one acquired a sample of an unknown tongue (let's just pretend it's Japanese,) and they wanted to dissect it word for word without knowing anything about it based off an ...
Matthew T. Scarbrough's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
123 views

Does L-Vocalisation exist in South African English? [duplicate]

For words with a dark L like "milk, help; golf; wolf" etc I don't have contact between the tip of my tongue and the alveolar region. My tongue touches nothing. However. I have spoken to South ...
James's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Linguistics concept about meaning of words according to a context

Several linguistics questions about the meaning in context of words: How is called in linguistics the fact some words have a meaning only with other words? How is it called when a word changes ...
Quidam's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
210 views

Transitive nouns (and adjectives) evidences from early Indo-Aryan languages

I search info and explanations about "transitive nouns", I didn't read Chomsky yet. I know he talks about "transitive nouns". Transitivity is typically thought of as a property of verbs, and ...
Quidam's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
260 views

Vowel harmony as epiphenomenon?

I have seen references in the literature on vowel harmony to the possibility of it being a mere epiphenomenon rather than a phonological phenomenon in its own right (e.g. using alignment, agreement or ...
Miztli's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
164 views

Introductory linguistic theory books [duplicate]

I'm wondering where a good place (or good places) to start learning about linguistic (grammar, syntactic and semantic) theories would be. I'm essentially a complete novice in this domain. Any sort ...
user42634's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
122 views

What parts of linguistics deal with the differences between text types?

There are different types of texts, for I stance: manuals short stories novels recipes love letters testaments contracts fines books for teaching children to read political speeches motivational ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
3 votes
4 answers
221 views

How does the description of the grammar of a language differ between a traditional and scientific approach?

Let me clarify the question, There are traditional grammars to describe the working and structure of languages, mostly with the purpose of teaching someone to speak the languages. So, it is approach ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
268 views

Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

At this point I don't want to explain my personal crackpot theories on how names for numbers emerged and I assume that anything remotely connected with the origin of language is highly speculative and ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
61 views

Is there a language that uses some kind of second layer traits (signs of a two-dimensional character)?

I've just read about the Saussure's second primordial principle that states that language is linear. This is sometimes interpreted as the notion of one-dimensioness of language. The second dimension ...
Probably's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
547 views

Chomsky's Syntactic Structures: Why is {a^n b^n : n ∈ ℕ} not a finite state language?

In (10) (i) of Chomsky's Syntactic Strucures (1957), the set of sentences of a specific language is defined as ab, aabb, aaabbb, ..., and in general, all sentences consisting of n occurrences of ...
erdapfel's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
312 views

Are there any good theories explaining the language aspect of the Zipf Mystery?

The Zipf mystery: In (presumably all from what I have read) natural languages, the number of times any specific word shows up in the language as a whole, or any particular piece is approximately ...
Travis's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
76 views

French Auxiliary Selection. Theoretical explanations?

I've heard that Generative Approaches trying to explain Auxiliary Selection are mostly focused in Italian, because its a language which intransitive verbs respond pretty well to unaccusativity ...
Jago's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
161 views

Which linguists from the 1940s–1970s believed that language comprised two distinct parts, “lexis” and “grammar”?

I’m looking for information about the linguists and/or researchers from before the 1970s who at the time believed that vocabulary and grammar should be taught as two completely separate entities, that ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
78 views

Moving past a simplistic conceptualization of linguistic units

Clearly, in some simplistic, "common sense" way, it is true that speech components are "nested": Phonemes comprise syllables, Syllables comprise words, Words comprise phrases, Phrases comprise ...
Teusz's user avatar
  • 2,701
14 votes
5 answers
5k views

What does "generative" mean? Can a linguistic theory be non-generative?

If we ignore the political distinction "theories of those who generally agree with Chomsky" vs "theories of those who generally disagree with him" (which is better described by "Chomskian" vs "non-...
michau's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
271 views

Merging phonetics and phonology

Ohala 1990, Halle (1954) and a few other very notable scholars have suggested that phonetics and phonology should be unified, denying an interface between the two. I naively imagine there are three ...
Teusz's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
111 views

How do language differences develop? [closed]

What are all the ways a group of people can start to pronounce or say things differently? And what are the factors that can affect those "mutations" apart from a random shift in pronunciation of the ...
Probably's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
39 views

Is case of PRO always the same as its controller?

I have a question about empty category PRO. I'd like to know if PRO is always bearing the same case as its controller, or not? Are there any lingusitics laws that clames such a thing? Many Thanks ...
Marceli's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
2k views

How is category theory applied in linguistics?

I am learning monoidal category applied in quantum information and quantum field theory, and several references say that monoidal category is somehow related to linguistics via Hopf algebra of quantum ...
David Sun's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

I learned of connections between linguistics and category theory when I'm learning the application of category theory in quantum field theory. Being aware that axiomatic set theory (logics) is ...
David Sun's user avatar
  • 303
2 votes
1 answer
170 views

When were empty constituents introduced into linguistics?

Sag and Fodor (1995) claim that "Bresnan's [1971] proposal was made prior to the introduction of empty constituents into syntactic theory." So when were empty constituents introduced? Sag, Ivan A &...
Brett Reynolds's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
115 views

Is "focus on verbs" a well-known aphorism in linguistics?

In a technical mailing list where I participate, someone asked: A famous linguist once said that "to understand a new language, that you should focus on the verbs first." Who said that? One ...
Dan Bron's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
2k views

what are natural classes and how are they classified?

I know the general concept behind natural classes but what is the philosophy for some classes like syllabic? and are there any relationship between any two classes (like being sonorant and being ...
blackkeys's user avatar
  • 152
3 votes
1 answer
5k views

How was De Saussure's Langue and Parole different from Chomsky's Competence and Performance?

Ferdinan De Sassure has proposed Langue and Parole long before Chomsky proposed his Competence and Performance system of linguistic knowledge? I know that they are different but how?
Hidden Markov Model's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
194 views

Saying words aloud to confirm/disprove accuracy of written language

I had a really interesting thought the other day: Is oral language dominant/superior in some way to written language? I bring this up because every time I need to correct or edit my written words (I ...
Stephanie's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
142 views

Do languages affect the focus of a society/civilization? [closed]

As I have come into contact with different languages in life I began to wonder whether some languages are more geared toward science, efficiency, literature or whatever. It seems like certain ...
Martin Fawls's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
834 views

How far is Natural semantic metalanguage really natural?

The theory of Natural semantic metalanguage states there are about 70 words we need to describe anything. However, for example DEAD we could express like NOT LIVING and for instance Russian often ...
Probably's user avatar
  • 597
4 votes
4 answers
483 views

Is there any neurological/biological evidence of Merge?

To my understanding, there are some linguists that would claim Merge is a cognitive mechanism which came about suddenly at some point in our evolutionary history. Is there any neurological evidence to ...
RECURSIVE FARTS's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

What's the reason behind the "silent n"?

My impression is that the concept of a silent "n" is quite common in many different languages/linguistic families . What is the reason that the "silent n" is so common in language as opposed to other ...
Reb Chaim HaQoton's user avatar
4 votes
4 answers
425 views

Is there a unicode for words?

A good QA on StackOverflow led me to this great read about Unicode, The Absolute Minimum Every Software Developer Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Unicode and Character Sets (No Excuses!). It ...
CivFan's user avatar
  • 151
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is autosegmental phonology?

I am an armchair music theorist and trying to read about John Goldsmith's theory of autosegmental phonology. Can someone summarize the basic principles behind his theory for a linguistic layman?
Stan Shunpike's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
414 views

Constraints for the -er affix

I was doing my homework and got stuck with questions iii and iv. The book doesn't contain information regarding these two questions and I don't know what applies here. To me, it seems like: iii) (...
Anonhoch2_Hark's user avatar
13 votes
6 answers
3k views

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

I was trying to educate myself on "big picture" in theoretical linguistics, and started with often mentioned universal grammar, but found online resources very confusing. According to Wikipedia, "...
Conifold's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
478 views

Has Ray Jackendoff's Parallel Architecture paradigm received a formal review or criticism(s) from Chomsky and/or others?

Ray Jackendoff, a theoretical linguist and cognitive scientist at Tufts University, has been developing his theory of the linguistic Parallel Architecture since departing from the narrow syntactic ...
mncz's user avatar
  • 313
12 votes
1 answer
882 views

Where did the discussion of the language faculty between Fitch, Hauser, Chomsky and Pinker and Jackendoff terminate?

Many of you may be familiar with the debate between FHC and PJ on the language faculty. The "discussion", which became quite heated, first appeared as PJ's response to an article in Science that was ...
mncz's user avatar
  • 313
0 votes
2 answers
357 views

Where did generative semantics go wrong? Why was their conception of language faulty?

Where did generative semantics go wrong? Why was their conception of language faulty? What were the main weaknesses of generative semantics adherents' claim that "a grammar starts with a description ...
Meyas A's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
141k views

Examples of Linguistic Features?

I'm taking a course "Introduction to Translation" and while i'm reading about the things a translator should do before translating a text is to see what are the salient linguistic features in the text?...
Afnan's user avatar
  • 29
1 vote
2 answers
368 views

What's a good example of the explanatory power of autosegmental phonology... for first year undergrads?

Our university is making a crash coarse in phonology for first year students so, while there is a dedicated phono module, there's also this streamlined overview of phonological theory. My job is to ...
Teusz's user avatar
  • 2,701
1 vote
1 answer
599 views

Isn´t there a contradiction between 'feature-checking' and 'no tampering'?

I have always perceived an inherent contradiction between Chomsky's 'no tampering' idea and ANY version of Merge (or any Merge-like operation) driven - under the principle of Economy - by the need for ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
181 views

Non-projective S in lexical-functional grammar

I'm a student doing some basic research into LFG and I've read some of Falk 2001 Lexical Functional-Grammar: an Introduction to Parallel Constraint-Based Syntax and there's an exercise in the chapter ...
jgriego's user avatar
  • 141
1 vote
1 answer
68 views

What Sprachgesetze are suggested by Quantitative Linguistics on semantic level? [closed]

Sprachgesetze, verbatimally laws of language, are stochastic statements about features of a language based on empirical evaluation of a corpus. The Sprachgesetze I found are mainly quantitative ...
meireikei's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
83 views

What stages of emergence of linguistic features are proposed among the world of scholars?

In biology, there is a simple two stages distinction of the emergence of life: Abiogenesis, the emergence of a (very simple) life form from non-living matter. Evolution, the further emergence of ...
meireikei's user avatar
  • 745
0 votes
1 answer
163 views

What linguistic key terms are necessary to be understood in order to understand the idea behind discourse analysis? [closed]

I was asked to get an understanding for what discourse analysis is. As for now, this terms has no meaning to me at all, I've tried to read about the concept in different off-and online encyclopedias, ...
meireikei's user avatar
  • 745
1 vote
1 answer
120 views

Do affixes and clitics belong to an own part of speech, part of sentence or another category ?

Birds, flowers, children belong to the part of speech of nouns, to fish, to pick, to play to verbs, swift, smelly, nice to adjectives those are the easy ones, what about clitics and affixes and such ...
meireikei's user avatar
  • 745
0 votes
1 answer
904 views

What are the different approaches of the levels of language analysis as introduced in structural linguistics? [closed]

The levels are as far as i ve been told: discours,syntax,morphology and phonology. What is the unique approach towards language of each of them? Are there further levels?
SheenedIckeAyerMeatzaahne's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
375 views

How many levels to approach language exist in linguistics?

I know only a few,like semantic level to approach its very meaning, the morphology level to understand how single words are build, syntax level to understand the inner structure of sentences. I ...
SheenedIckeAyerMeatzaahne's user avatar