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16 votes
2 answers
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Do dialects without the meet-meat merger neutralize the distinction in some contexts?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
brass tacks's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
491 views

Is linguistic change pushed by humor?

Through "meme culture," young people are inventing all sorts of new linguistic constructions purely because they think they sound funny. The interesting thing is that these jokes don't end at a ...
Raf Vosté's user avatar
13 votes
0 answers
2k views

How did Chinese recursion evolve?

The modern Chinese linguistic recursion system is essentially the same as English. If you have a highly embedded sentence, you can translate it word for word, the embedding is very much the same. In ...
Ron Maimon's user avatar
12 votes
0 answers
2k views

Do "only if..." and "if... only then..." have the same LF representation?

I'm currently writing a term paper where I am comparing if... then..., only if..., and if... only then... statements. I've noticed that only if p q and if p, only then q have the same truth conditions ...
acattle's user avatar
  • 2,898
11 votes
0 answers
333 views

What kind of features support the claim that Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages?

Inspired by this answer to a different question, I ask what kind of features justify a claim that Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages. The features ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
10 votes
0 answers
249 views

Is Riau Indonesian really monocategorial?

There have been plenty of publications (mostly by David Gil) discussing how Riau Indonesian is a unique language that lacks word categories. To me, this sounds huge: a truly unique language, no word ...
A.V. Arno's user avatar
  • 201
9 votes
1 answer
447 views

Merger of perfect and aorist in Italic and Celtic

One of the common features of the Italic and Celtic branches is the merger of perfect and aorist. So, in the surviving "perfect" forms we find a mixture of old aorist stems and old perfect ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
9 votes
0 answers
103 views

Is anything known about the origin of the hard "g" in "guénti" in Santiago, Cape Verdean Creole?

There is a word "guénti" /'gɛn ti/ in the Santiago dialect of Cape Verdean Creole, which is used to mean "people" or "you people/you all". It clearly comes from the ...
Dan Getz's user avatar
  • 435
9 votes
0 answers
339 views

Positive & Negative Polarity Items, and Interrogatives

There are certain items in some languages that tend to occur largely in negative clauses. In English, one such item might be the word ever: *I have ever been to Paris. I haven't ever been to Paris. ...
Araucaria - him's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
87 views

Does Northern Kurdish actually have a paucal number?

For the past 10+ years, the Wikipedia article "Grammatical number" has stated: Of the Indo-European languages, Kurmanji (also known as Northern Kurdish) is one of the few known languages ...
John Fortnight's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
324 views

Which writing systems have the highest/lowest stroke-to-sound ratios?

Preemptive note: This question is about sound-based writing systems, excluding logographic systems like Chinese. Transitional systems like Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya script or Man’yōgana are also ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
84 views

Was the "a" glyph ever used for ajV in Hittite?

As fdb mentioned in a comment: The sequence a-a is a scribal convention for ajV [in Akkadian]. Some Assyriologists treat it as a single sign with the “Lautwert” aju, aji, aja In Hittite, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
8 votes
0 answers
198 views

Historical pronunciation of Hindi यह and वह

The Hindi 3rd person singular proximal and distal pronouns यह and वह are commonly pronounced [jeː] and [ʋoː], in contrast to the [hyper-correct?] pronunciations [jəɦ(ə)] and [ʋəɦ(ə)] one might expect ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,112
8 votes
0 answers
270 views

Does anyone know if there are plans for a 'successor' to Huddleston and Pullum (CamGEL or CGEL)?

Huddleston and Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CamGEL or CGEL) is widely considered a 'successor' to a previous 'great English grammar': Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik's ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
270 views

Phonological development of Middle Chinese 學 /hæwk/ to Mandarin xue /ɕye/

學 was /hæwk/ according to Baxter-Sagart transcription of Qieyun, and according to this wikipedia page, -æwk became /Jye/ in modern Mandarin, where J is a palatalized initial consonant. What I'm ...
MujjinGun's user avatar
  • 527
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Agglutination in Proto-Indo-European

Based on numerous sources, it seems clear that Proto-Indo-European was Productively agglutinative with non-root morphemes (and perhaps some specific roots that are also able to act like bound ...
Justin Olbrantz's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
576 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 ...
imz -- Ivan Zakharyaschev's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
192 views

What are the current views on the existence of a "zero article" in English?

As is well known, under certain circumstances in English, there can be acceptable noun phrases (NPs) that lack a determiner. Some cases include: (i) "indefinite uncountable nominals" (There ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
91 views

Why do some theophoric names put the verb first?

Across several Afro-Asiatic languages, it used to be common to use entire sentences as personal names, usually with a deity involved. For example, the emperor Nebuchadnezzar's name in Akkadian was ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
7 votes
0 answers
336 views

How is Donald Duck's voice produced, if not by buccal speech?

The Disney character Donald Duck is well known for his nigh unintelligible voice, which was originated by actor Clarence Nash in the 1930s. I have always heard this manner of speaking described as ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
855 views

I'm confused by the term 'adjunct' as used in A Student's Introduction to English Grammar (2nd Edition 2022)

According to the authors of the book, adjuncts are divided into two kinds: modifiers, which are thoroughly integrated into the syntactic structure of clauses, and supplements, which are much more ...
IMissedmyflight's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
88 views

What linguistic sources discuss doubled -ed in -edly and -edness words?

Some linguists have written analyses of "double -er suffixation" in English, in formations from particle verbs such as fix up > fixer upper. For example: "Double -er suffixation in ...
brass tacks's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
152 views

“Reconstruction” of an attested and well studied language

I wonder has anyone ever tried to reconstruct Latin language via data on modern Romance languages as if we know nothing about what Latin actually was. Both as a fun exercise and as a method to test ...
shabunc's user avatar
  • 917
7 votes
0 answers
185 views

Northumbrian pronunciation of ge-/gi- prefix and -g suffix

I'm working on a musical setting of Cædmon's Hymn, and I'd like to have the primary setting be in the Northumbrian dialect of its earliest written example (the 737 "Moore" Bede manuscript). I'm ...
Necarion's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
2k views

Is there any evidence of language contact between the Inuit and Ainu languages?

The Eskimo-Aleut and Ainu languages were historically spoken in the same region (near the Kamchatka Peninsula), and they share some features that are common in Paleo-Siberian languages, including ...
Anderson Green's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
408 views

How to determine the direction of conversion?

Recently I have been researching the topic of nominalizations. I learned that such structures might be created by means of morphological derivation (be it affixes, clitics, light verbs) or zero-...
kash's user avatar
  • 145
7 votes
0 answers
162 views

Are there any languages where the first person cannot be an object?

In some languages, nouns low on the animacy hierarchy, particularly inanimates cannot surface as A, and if a situation arises where they are underlyingly A, some reparative strategy such as a passive ...
Gufferdk's user avatar
  • 316
7 votes
0 answers
183 views

Combinatory Categorial Grammar (комбинаторная категориальная грамматика) developments and lexicon for Russian language?

I am trying to apply Cornell Semantic Parsing framwork https://github.com/cornell-lic/spf (implementation of Combinatory Categorial Grammars CCG) to Russian language. This framework takes natural ...
TomR's user avatar
  • 499
7 votes
0 answers
91 views

In which non-Sinitic languages do negative clauses retain older constituent order in SVC-derived complex predicates?

Many complex predicates are historically derived from serial verb constructions. This is not only true of the Sinitic family. For example, in Saramaccan (Byrne 1987, as cited in Givón 2009): (1) a ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
178 views

Romance languages - "to mean" as "to want to say"

I have noticed this phenomenon in quite a few Romance languages, that the verb "to mean" can also be conveyed by the phrase "to want to say", regardless of the origin of the verb "to want". For ...
Kenny Lau's user avatar
  • 661
7 votes
0 answers
372 views

Why were written sentences longer in the past?

These ELU answers affirm, but do not explain, the decrease in written sentence length. So why? To allow for comparison with modern dialects, I restrict this question to: writing in European ...
user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
93 views

Are there any languages with second-person pronouns marked for a proximal/distal distinction?

I am curious if there are any natural languages where the personal pronoun used to refer to the addressee varies in some way depending on their distance to the speaker. For instance, one form might be ...
AlphaModder's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
132 views

Geographic distribution of ‘I haven’t’ and ‘I’ve not’

The answer to this question on English Language & Usage discusses a possible difference between American and British dialects in their use of ‘I’ve not’ and ‘I haven’t’. I have noticed ‘I’ve not’ ...
camarones95's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
241 views

How did Old Norse influence Old English to lose genders and cases?

Wikipedia says that "Norse influence is ... considered to have stimulated and accelerated the morphological simplification found in Middle English, such as the loss of grammatical gender and ...
user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
177 views

Just how silent is the French e muet?

I know the e muet is usually considered silent. That being said, it is still often pronounced in songs and poetry (famously, in the Marseillaise). This is completely contrary to the situation in ...
Gaussler's user avatar
  • 161
6 votes
0 answers
102 views

Is there a word for "mouth transitions" which describes the movement of a mouth which is saying one word, but preparing for the next?

I think I can produce every individual phoneme in standard-ish spoken Mandarin. However, if I want to speak fluently I have to watch videos of people speaking and closely watch their mouths, because ...
Marvin Irwin's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
279 views

Has the development of double consonants in Latin been studied?

When one studies both Latin and Greek, one of the most prominent differences between the two is the much greater number of double consonants in Latin. While Greek does have some instances of them, ...
theoremseeker's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
146 views

Term for non-homograph homophone synonyms?

In Japanese, 熱い and 暑い are both read atsui and both mean 'hot'. The former pertains to an object (e.g. hot coffee) and the latter to weather. In French 'cuissot' and 'cuisseau' have the same ...
Mathieu Bouville's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
88 views

Do most semanticists maintain that there is a distinction between secondary agents and tools?

I've heard some people say that there are two types of instrument: secondary agents and tools. A secondary agent is something that accomplishes a task when the agent wields it. So we CAN say ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
827 views

Why is the word "wherefore" not "whatfore" and the word "therefore" not "thatfore" and related anomalies

There is a pronominal adverb in many germanic languages that is a conjunction of the descendants of the proto-germanic words *hwar (where) + *furi (for/fore) which means something very similar to "for ...
Iwan Aucamp's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
133 views

How common are languages with different word orders in matrix and non-matrix clauses

How common is it cross-linguistically for a language to have a different word order in various types of embedded clauses such as relative clauses? WALS appears to collect information on word order in ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,278
6 votes
0 answers
76 views

Are there palindrome-like constructs in written Cree?

I just learned about Cree syllabics from a comment on another SE. According to the wiki (emphasis mine) Canadian Aboriginal syllabics are unique among abugida scripts in that the orientation of a ...
StackOverthrow's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
307 views

Is there any dialect of English with clusivity?

What it says on the tin. The closest thing that I'm aware of is in Tok Pisin, a creole language which involved English in its creation, which distinguishes “we without you” (mipela) from “we with you” ...
Alexander Z.'s user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
79 views

Is there a threshold of usage of a word, below which it will become an archaism?

University student, beginning to learn about corpora, developing a research question for an assignment. There may well be linguistic concepts and terminology that already cover this idea and that I am ...
tom's user avatar
  • 181
6 votes
0 answers
156 views

List of Hungarian toponyms by interior/surface case

Hungarian toponyms can be grouped grammatically according to whether they take the "interior" cases (inessive, illative, and elative) or the "surface" cases (superessive, sublative, and delative) to ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
153 views

What historical change(s) shortened vowels in Old and Middle English?

In a 1968 paper by Kiparsky ("Linguistic universals and linguistic change"), a historical-change argument is made for the brace notation of SPE, based on the history of vowel shortening. The premise ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
6 votes
0 answers
130 views

Are Rhyming, Alliterative Verse etc. forms of linguistic Error Detection/Correction Schemes?

Rhyme (Wikipedia) Alliterative verse (Wikipedia) Metre - Poetry (Wikipedia) Mechanisms such as these appear to help lower information corruption during long range communication, especially during pre-...
jwmullally's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
643 views

Do we know how common it is for ethnic Chinese and Tamils in Malaysia to speak each others language?

Here in Malaysia there are three main ethnicities, Malay, Chinese, Tamil, and most people speak more than one language. There are four main language groupings: Malay - national language and language ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 14.6k
6 votes
0 answers
261 views

What languages use grammaticalized spoonerisms?

Here I define a "spoonerism" as the exchange of onset sounds between initially accented words in a phrase: "sh(oving l)eopard" instead of "loving shepherd" "f(ighting a l)iar" instead of "lighting a ...
Damian Yerrick's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
128 views

What currency does the term "flip sense verb" have in linguistics?

In a recent comment on the question Ergative Verbs and some discussion about them, jlawler introduced a term I had not previously encountered: The rose smells good is completely different; this ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 14.6k

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