Questions tagged [vocabulary]

The set of words within a language.

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Why do the names for Slavic languages frequently end in ски (ski)?

Does "ски"(ski) mean something on it's own or is it just a coincidence? Russian is Русский, Bulgarian is Български, Serbian is Srpski, Polish is Polski etc. Ukrainian is Українська.
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is there a language where everyday speakers routinely use a unit of force to express their body weight?

This question is inspired by Is there a language where people do not use weight for mass? When someone says "I weigh 75 kilograms" they are not necessarily using the wrong verb: assume the ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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Is there a language where people do not use weight for mass?

In common English usage people refer to their mass as weight. Nobody says "I mass 75 kilos". Likewise in modern Hebrew. Do any languages actually use a variation of the phrasing "I foo ...
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1 vote
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What is the best way to define the origins of a language's vocabulary?

I have often read that the vocabulary of the English language consists of words of roughly 60% Latin origin and of roughly 40% words of Germanic origin, give or take. This to me seems accurate as a ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Why does it seem like (at least some) ancient European languages didn't have words for "yes" and "no"?

This is something that's bothered me since learning Latin in high school a decade or so ago--it seems like the concepts of "yes" and "no" that I, as a native speaker of English, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Sites for collecting and mapping vocab differences within languages

What are the publicly available websites for mapping (and collecting data) on vocabulary differences within a language? For French there is Français de nos régions. For English there is ...
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0 votes
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Languages or Dialects Wherein Rain/Cloud and Tear/Cry are Cognates

Are there any languages or dialects wherein at least one of the words for rain, (rain)drop, or (rain)cloud is a cognate of at least one the terms for tear(drop) or cry(ing) ? or (rain)clouds are ...
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40 votes
7 answers
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Is there a word in a dead or lost language that we lost the definition to?

Is there a word we lost the definition to? A word whose definition we lost to history? Something that is a part of our history but we forgot the meaning with time
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  • 509
2 votes
1 answer
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Animal or plant names used to describe children

I noticed in a few languages that people can address children using names of animals or plants, to show affection. For example in English you get: pumpkin, tiger (sorry, can't think of more examples,...
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0 votes
1 answer
256 views

Why are the names of languages always adjectives? (e.g. "English", "French", "Spanish")

I notice that in English (as well as Spanish, and perhaps other European languages), the name of a language is the same word as the adjective form of the country or region name. In English, this rule ...
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12 votes
1 answer
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Is there a name for a diminutive whose meaning has decoupled from the original word?

In languages where the diminutive is productive (such as Slavic languages), many words derived as a diminutive have a meaning completely decoupled from their origin, and do not anymore "convey ...
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2 votes
1 answer
250 views

When speaking a foreign language, why do people use the corresponding word of their native language for the word "so"?

I have noticed people using the word for "so" (in order to / therefore) in their language, rather than the language they are trying to speak. This happens with persons who are otherwise very ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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What does Potrefená mean in Czech? [closed]

There is a restaurant chain in the Czech Republic called the Potrefená Husa. Husa in Czech is Goose, but I can't find a meaning for Potrefená in any of my usual sources (Google Translate, dict.cc, ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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What purpose do obscure words serve?

Inspired by a question about a rare, obsolete word psithurism. What purpose in human language is served by having words, communicative acts, that are very unlikely to communicate anything due to the ...
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2 votes
2 answers
62 views

What linguistic category would informal contractions fall under?

I'm sure this question has an extremely simple answer, but I'm comparing the dialects from two movies, one being a typical Hollywood movie, and one being a documentary. I am listing any linguistic ...
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2 votes
2 answers
258 views

How to find most common expressions starting with "iron"?

I want to find a list of 2-word expressions starting with iron: i.e. ironing board, iron filings, iron bridge Can you suggest a vocabulary tool for that?
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1 vote
2 answers
81 views

Technical term for similarity between two words?

I am learning Spanish at the moment, and I want to tag my vocabulary in the programm that im using to first learn words that are closely related to English (For example, "Contract" -> "Contrato", "...
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10 votes
6 answers
3k views

Does knowing PIE roots help with vocab?

It is known that in theory (and in practice, but you need dedication in practice) learning Latin can help with vocabulary in English. (I know Spanish, it helped me with vocab words, and I'm learning ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Cumbrian sources

I'm interested in the cumbrian dialect, but I couldn't find good sources of vocabulary and pontual aspects of its grammar. Also, I was trying to understand the following poem: I'll tell the' We're ...
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2 votes
1 answer
173 views

Languages Or Dialects Not Distinguishing Between Taste And Smell

Are there any languages or dialects not distinguishing between taste and smell? Possible duplicate of this older and much more general question.
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1 vote
1 answer
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What can these verbs be called as a group?

I'm going to teach my students about different patterns of usage of these verbs: marry (e.g. get married, marry sb, marry to), die (e.g. die of , die from, die for), match (e.g. match (something), ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Do people know more words or proper nouns?

I'm curious if the average adult knows more words in their language (excluding proper nouns), or more proper nouns? At first I'm inclined to think the former, but then I think of all the names I know: ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What are typical child and adult vocabulary growth rates?

What are typical vocabulary growth rates (say, in words / day) for children and adults in their native languages? Has there been enough research to plot vocabulary growth rate vs age? I'm especially ...
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-2 votes
3 answers
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Do German and English share the same word roots?

The roots of English words, as we all know, mainly come from Greek and Latin. There is no doubt that knowing the Latin or Greek roots of English words greatly helps in memorizing them. For instance, "...
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6 votes
1 answer
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How is the rate of evolution of a language measured?

Have linguists measured the rate of evolution of a language by analyzing the rate of change of the language's words' usages over time? Is there a term for this sort of measurement? For example, ...
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  • 307
5 votes
0 answers
123 views

Parent–child kinship terms for same- or different-sex relationships

Does anybody know of a natural language in which the kinship terms used for parents and children are governed not by the gender of the individual but whether or not the two people in the relationship ...
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0 votes
4 answers
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Is English the most descriptive language?

I only know English as a language aside from classes in Spanish and French and the typical stuff learned through movies and the like. To people who are multilingual, is English the most descriptive ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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How has pair/couple ended up meaning both 2 and more in different languages?

Consider the following examples from different languages: (en) The bridge has been built a couple years ago. (de) Das Problem ist größer als vor ein paar Jahren. (pl) Poznaliśmy się parę lat temu. (...
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2 votes
1 answer
413 views

Do all cultures have the 5 senses?

In English speaking cultures, we have the 5 traditional senses (sight, sound, taste, touch and smell), but I'm wondering if other cultures have only one word for two of those things, ie taste being ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
49 views

Vocabulary list

I'm looking for a list of the most common words used in either English or Spanish preferably organised by semantic fields. Can any of you point me in the right direction? Thanks a lot.
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0 votes
0 answers
68 views

Vocabulary Wordlist for the elementary school English

I am curious if there is a written English corpus that offers word frequency lists for the elementary stage vocabulary, i.e. K-5 grades? Something like Dr. Edward Fry's sight words, which is updated ...
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6 votes
3 answers
2k views

Did Latin "cum" get replaced in French by "avec" because "con" sounded obscene?

While the words for "with" in most Romance languages seem to be direct descendents from Latin "cum" (e.g. Spanish/Italian "con", Portuguese "com", Romanian "cu") it got replaced by "avec" in French. ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Help identifying words in unknown language from the Caribbean

These words come from a language known as Guene or Lenga di Luandu (Language of Luando) spoken by blacks on the Caribbean island of Curaçao. They were recorded in the early 20th century and are not ...
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5 votes
4 answers
692 views

American English speakers needing subtitles more often

I often ask my American English native speaker friends this question: When watching a movie in American English, do you turn the subtitles on? Quite a lot of them say that they always do ("in ...
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0 votes
1 answer
66 views

Where can I find a list of German nouns with their articles?

I am working on some linguistic software. The whole functionality is already there, the only thing that is missing is a good vocabulary to test it with. Of course there is no way to create a decent ...
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3 votes
1 answer
200 views

How can a human have such brilliant memory for vocabulary?

How is it possible that human beings are capable of remembering tens of thousands of words (later in life even being able to spell most of them correctly and increasing their vocabulary) and what ...
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3 votes
2 answers
116 views

What will form a minimum yet complete set of verbs that can define any action?

Let us think of a hypothetical situation where I need to identify a set of verbs, where the set can represent all possible actions that can be performed. For example, run can be tuned as a variation ...
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3 votes
2 answers
744 views

Why do we need erudite langage?

I am not a native English speaker and thus, am not sure whether 'erudite language' is putting it right. Yesterday, a friend of mine stated that he thinks that lots of people, including himself, do ...
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5 votes
2 answers
482 views

What decides the language family of a language the most structure/grammar or the vocabulary?

My assumed premise: Indo-European language classification is broad. We can always find two languages of this family which are grammatically so different, and also the languages grammatically similar. ...
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3 votes
1 answer
489 views

Examples of small, minimalistic natural languages?

I was reading about a constructed language called "Toki Pona" that is touted to have only 120 words. I wanted to know are there any examples of any natural languages notable for their simplicity or ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Does Japanese have as many English-derived words as English has French-derived words?

According to current corpora and other tools used by language researchers, does the current vocabulary of Japanese already contain as many words borrowed/derived from English as the number of English ...
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1 vote
0 answers
61 views

an open source lexicographical framework

I am looking for a lightweight open source framework for lexicographical experiments: building vocabularies, converting from one type to another, merging, dealing with multilingual issues, ... google ...
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4 votes
2 answers
291 views

Is this a nonce word or is there another name for a regularly constructed neologism?

I had an argument with a friend, since he didn't find "claustrophilia" in the dictionary he thought it should be called a nonce word. I thought the term "nonce" was for one-off words that arose a ...
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3 votes
1 answer
362 views

What is the lexical relationship between 'kingdom' and 'phylum'?

In biology humans belong to the kingdom of animalia and the phylum chordata. Every organism that belongs to chordata belongs also to animalia but not the other way around. Animalia is a hypernym of ...
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5 votes
1 answer
590 views

Shannon's entropy as a measure of vocabulary richness

The Entropy formula for lexical richness is The probability p-ith is calculated by dividing V-ith by N, where N is the total number of tokens in the text and V is the number of types. However, I can'...
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2 votes
2 answers
222 views

Is the general concept behind "Eskimo words for snow" true?

The specific claim that "Eskimos have X words for snow" is heavily disputed. However, is the general concept that certain cultures' languages often have a large number of words for things that are ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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What languages other than English distinguish 'poison' and 'venom'

The English language distinguishes the terms "poison" and "venom", with "toxin" sometimes used as a general classifier for both: Venomous organisms deliver or inject venom into other organisms ...
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  • 358
1 vote
2 answers
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Are there measures of language complexity?

I can find measures of "readability" but not language complexity (there might be another word for this, I give an example below) online. If anyone knows of any, would you list them? By complexity I ...
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3 votes
6 answers
726 views

Could the English language be learned purely by observing written texts?

I just asked this question on English Language Learners and there they suggested that it might better fit here. This is a high level and difficult question, however I think it is an interesting ...
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2 votes
1 answer
385 views

How to determine difficulty of a word if its frequency in a corpus is known?

What is known in general about the relationship between word difficulty and word frequency? That is, for a given word, suppose I know the frequency with which it (or its word stem) is encountered in ...
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