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Questions tagged [vocabulary]

The set of words within a language.

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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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71 views

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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0answers
60 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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4answers
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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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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 ...
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129 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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1answer
45 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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44 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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3answers
536 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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2answers
144 views

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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4answers
301 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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1answer
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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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1answer
175 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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2answers
97 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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2answers
402 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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2answers
278 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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1answer
189 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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0answers
135 views

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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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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2answers
216 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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1answer
190 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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1answer
426 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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2answers
186 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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594 views

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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2answers
671 views

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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697 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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1answer
282 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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Did any indigenous American languages have/develop a word for “Native American”?

Obviously the political landscape of the Americas was a hugely complex thing during the period of European colonization, and what was true of one Native American group was almost never true of all of ...
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1answer
142 views

What is considered the smallest possible sample size for word frequency lists used in FL instruction?

I've been engaged in a conversation on another site pertaining to frequency analysis, particularly in relation to the 1966 work Buntús Gaeilge, Colmán Ó Huallacháin; Ireland. Department of ...
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0answers
123 views

Constructing/borrowing of complex scientific/technological/financial vocabulary in Esperanto [closed]

Most Esperanto scientific, some technology-specific, or financial dictionaries available online cover vast range, but mostly old terminology that was around for many years. How does one translate or ...
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1answer
93 views

Abbreviation taking the meaning of the whole expression

In English and some other languages (such as Portuguese and possibly Italian), the word "calculus" is actually an abbreviation from "differential and integral calculus" that has taken the meaning of ...
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1answer
201 views

Active vocabulary for Anglophones compared to native speakers of other languages

A site search has turned me up Size of active vocabulary in hunter gather tribes, and Which language has the biggest vocabulary?, but neither of those seem to address what I want to know about. I ...
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2answers
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English vs. Esperanto (in grammar, vocabulary, semantics)

I know Esperanto is constructed on the basis of Romance languages; but what are the main differences and similarities between English and Esperanto? Especially from the following aspects: grammar (...
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1answer
190 views

Help understanding “degree of overall vocabulary divergence”

There was an article published with a diagram showing Lexical Difference: http://elms.wordpress.com/2008/03/04/lexical-distance-among-languages-of-europe/. It cites a Russian source "K. Tyshchenko (...
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2answers
266 views

Size of active vocabulary in hunter gather tribes

How big is the active vocabulary that an average hunter gather tribe in Africa uses? Is it comparable to the size of Western civilisation?
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2answers
5k views

What are the constituent morphemes in 'preposition'?

The word preposition. I am trying to break down a series of words into their constituent morphemes and am having trouble with the word 'preposition'. I can obviously see that the 'pre-' is a morpheme ...
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9answers
16k views

Which language has the biggest vocabulary?

I am thinking that it is English because it has so many borrowed words and most you French, Italian, or German words can be written in English as is. Am I right?
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1answer
737 views

Words and phrases more likely in everyday speech

I'm processing a large corpus for a given language. I've noticed that for certain sections of the corpus, I can go many tens of thousands of words without the word "me" being mentioned. These are ...
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5answers
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How many “words” do I need to learn?

I am interested in learning a second language. To do this I have created a list of the 1000 most common words and phrases for a given language. I've also established sentences which contains each of ...
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4answers
236 views

Are there people who intentionally refuse to use some words even if the majority does it?

Suppose one person does not like one word or expression. He would have to use it though, so then he chooses a substitute. The majority of the people however use that word. Now, since one meaning of ...
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1answer
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How is the differing reuse of words depending on language called in Linguistics?

My question is a little bit tricky (for me) to put in a title. I will try to describe: There are different types of writing systems, such as logographic, true alphabets and segmental scripts. Not ...
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1answer
161 views

How are meanings of a word ordered in a dictionary?

What base does vocabulary.com use for its hierarchy of meanings of a word? For example see http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/sound. Are top levels (numbered list) all homonyms? What structure do ...
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Are there any extensive study on the vocabulary used in the Mongour and Bonan languages?

I have always been interested in examining Tu/Mongour and Bonan language. Mongour is a Mongolic language which is spoken by Mongour people who may be the descendants of Xianbei people who moved from ...
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Pre-Proto-Basque: is there a methodology to establishing its vocabulary?

For example, say I have a list Basque/Euskera words, is there a way I can reconstruct these modern Basque words into a Pre-Proto-Basque version? beo (hot) lur (earth) izotz (ice) izuga (fear) ...
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1answer
214 views

What is the evidence for laryngeal in *méh₂tēr?

Wikitionary shows a PIE word *méh₂tēr but I never seen this word spelled with a laryngeal. There was a long vowel there but how is it correct to analyze it to be *-eh₂- rather than just *ā?
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1answer
656 views

How it happened that evolution of “mater” and “pater” is different despite their similar origin?

With an addition of PIE relatives suffix *-ter-, Eurasiatic *ama, *apa became Old PIE *mā-ter-s, *pa-ter-s (the final -s was later lost in late PIE) But there is a difference: in Old PIE *māters the "...
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2answers
354 views

Are there any online databases of kinship terms across languages?

Related to a question at ELU, I am interested in doing a comparative analysis of kinship terms in various languages. What would help me with this is an inventory of terms for individual languages. ...
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1answer
251 views

Vocabulary Usage Patterns

Why do vocabulary sets used by one person within the same context differ as a result of the environment of execution? For example: reading, writing, speaking, listening, etc. What are the "...
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1answer
360 views

Are there languages which use the negation of 'odd' to denote 'even'?

This question is influenced by another one I found on the German SE, "Warum nennt man in Deutsch die Zahlen 0, 2, 4 … “gerade” Zahlen?". It asks "Why call Germans the numbers 0, 2, 2 "even". The ...