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9
votes
1answer
213 views

Is it possible to determine genetic relations without external historical data?

Spanish and Portuguese, for example, are very similar languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin over the past two thousand years or so. We know a great deal about their histories, the occupation of the ...
0
votes
1answer
147 views

Machine-readable list of abbreviations

Is there a list of standard abbreviations/acronyms available for computational linguistics tasks? I understand 'standard' is a subjective term here but anything that is not too domain specific(not a ...
31
votes
5answers
6k views

What languages lack personal pronouns, and why?

The Japanese language lacks personal pronouns in the IE sense. Japanese is very pro-drop, and often sentences will be constructed so personal pronouns do not appear, and the agents which the pronouns ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Suppletion vs. missing verb forms

Japanese is famous for its very few irregular verbs, but there are some cases where verb-forms are missing and other verbs/adjectives are used instead. For example, (in standard Japanese) the verb ある ...
3
votes
1answer
82 views

What does a dictionary need so that a computer can use it to determine the grammaticality of a given string?

I would imagine that it would need a full list of all the forms of all the words, but how much information would need to be told to the computer about each word in order for it to know enough to judge ...
6
votes
1answer
3k views

Has the internet had an effect on language change?

Has the internet or the recent dramatic cheapening of long-distance communication in general had an effect on the way language evolves? I would think (purely speculatively) that it reinforces those ...
18
votes
1answer
8k views

Does anyone know of text message corpora?

I am looking for a large corpus of text messages. By large, I am hoping to have at least 15,000 text messages in my sample. I am fine with combining several smaller corpora into a larger corpus as I ...
1
vote
1answer
638 views

Why is the definite, indefinite, and partitive article grouped together?

According to this answer to the question : Do some languages have articles besides the definite and indefinite articles? It is worth noting, I think, that "article" is not a theoretical primitive ...
10
votes
1answer
372 views

How do linguists tell areal features and genetic relations apart?

Languages belonging to the same family obviously share many features, most of which were inherited from their common ancestor. But, considering that languages of the same family also are usually ...
17
votes
5answers
4k views

When and how did French become a non-null-subject language?

First of all, what does "null-subject" mean? Taken from the Wikipedia page for "Null-subject languages": […] a null-subject language is a language whose grammar permits an ...
8
votes
3answers
562 views

PIE -enk reflexes in Modern English

I recently found out the origin of the verb 'bring' as being derived from bher- (carry) and enk- (to go to) and how they fused together and came into Germanic as *bhrengk- then coming down into ...
9
votes
2answers
701 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
451 views

What defines a unique writing style?

I'm an amateur writer that happens to be a professional programmer. I say this because I've recently jumped back into a personal research project in which the goal is to automate the de-anonymization ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Did Hebrew writing evolve from Egyptian hieroglyphs?

I read somewhere that the Hebrew writing system evolved from Egyptian pictographs. If that's the case, have anyone read about records that trace exact evolution from a pictograph to a Hebrew letter, ...
6
votes
3answers
481 views

Significance of “childish errors” in mainstream language change

Over on ELU the question Is “bettern't” an OK word to use? drew me into debate about how significant "childish errors" are in the development of mainstream language. Hence, the question: Are "...
10
votes
1answer
767 views

What is the role of syntax in understanding event descriptive sentences?

I've been closely following the work stemming from St. John and McClelland's Sentence Gestalt Model, which uses a connectist model to extract semantic information about events from sentences without ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

Textual Commitment

I am working on question answering problem. The major task is to understand text and convert complex sentences to simpler sentences i.e Textual Commitments using Conventional implicature and ...
5
votes
1answer
286 views

Computational models of language acquisition

What are currently used computational models/frameworks of language acquisition? Desired features: models that are biologically plausible (such as neural networks). Personally, I have used cascade ...
11
votes
9answers
4k views

Are there languages with a totally regular conjugation for “to be” outside Quechua?

I recently noticed that most languages have an irregular conjugation for the verb To be. I say almost because I don't know all languages, but the ones I've seen all have some irregularity sooner or ...
3
votes
2answers
686 views

What caused some IE languages to have consonant inventory sizes different from PIE?

The WALS chapter on consonant inventories shows that the distribution of inventory sizes across languages follows a normal curve, with average size inventories (22 ± 3 consonants) being the most ...
13
votes
4answers
515 views

Does any language use bound morphology to express the concept “less”?

In English, many adjectives support the -er ending to express a notion of exceeding: John is taller than Mary (is). Mary is smarter than John (is). Of course, you can also have the more analytic ...
3
votes
1answer
261 views

Do infants deliberately change the words when they omit the sounds and these words are minimal pairs?

While I was studying an infant's transcript, I realized that he deleted the [l] sound in "alma" [alma], a word in Turkish meaning "do not take". When he deleted the sound, the word became [a:ma]. ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Intonation for questions in different languages and child's early language development intonations

Since my 9 months old son started pointing to things and saying 'Ahh?' with a proper question intonation, I was wondering if all other languages have the same intonation for questions as in English (...
12
votes
1answer
313 views

Are there any alternatives to Source-Filter theory?

The linear source-filter theory of speech production ( Fant, G. (1970) Acoustic Theory of Speech Production; Stevens and House (1961)) is very useful for understanding speech synthesis and a ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

English words which are both verbs and adjectives

A question about UI design led me to speculate about English words which are both a verb and an adjective. My answer to the question addresses this linguistics issue as the root of the UI issue. I ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

About the Swedish /ɧ/

Swedish has quite a peculiarity that I haven't found (yet) in other languages. There are some spellings that are pronounced all the same way. Currently the number of these spellings is disputed, but ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Are 'cot' and 'cat' morphologically similar?

Can we say that words like 'cot' and 'cat' morphologically similar? I understand morphology as different forms of a particular word, eg. swim, swam, swimming, so my definition of morphology does not ...
21
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do Polish and Belarusian have an atypical greeting if compared to other Slavic languages?

While chatting with a polish penpal, I've discovered that in Polish the expression for "good morning/good day/hello/good afternoon" varies if compared to the other Slavic languages; later I saw that ...
5
votes
1answer
286 views

Are there any papers about the calling contour (minor third, vocative chant) in Italian?

As indicated in the answers to "Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone?", "many European languages" use this type of chanted falling contour, but the examples all come from English, ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

What did people really speak in Europe around the time and place of the setting of the movie 'the quest for fire"?

For the 1981 film, "Quest For Fire", the late linguist, Anthony Burgess, constructed a language called Ulam (or at least that was the tribe's name). Given that I'm helping a friend who's an ...
6
votes
1answer
381 views

Cents symbol in phonology

In examining Chol's phonology, I came across the (old?) cents symbol ¢ (with a slanted line) as a phoneme symbol. I have not been able to track what it corresponds to in IPA terms, but I suspect it's ...
7
votes
1answer
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
638 views

What is this phenomenon called, and is it the only occurrence?

Usually it's fairly easy to know the spelling of words in Italian, given the very close relation between that and pronunciation. But that's not always true. The word musulmano in Italian (which means ...
18
votes
7answers
5k views

Looking for a good beginners reference to learn computational linguistics

Recently in my work I came across the Backus–Naur Form (BNF), one way of describing a context-free grammar. Since then, I've been interested in learning how to deconstruct and parse not only computing ...
10
votes
1answer
408 views

Grammaticalization of third person singular -s in English

Is there any evidence that the third person singular -s can be traced back to a lexical item before it became an inflection? I am trying to see if the theory of grammaticalization applies to its ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Did Western European languages change faster during the Renaissance?

I am looking for data that either confirm or refute the following statement: During the Renaissance (let's say, 14th to 16th centuries), Western European languages changed very rapidly. The pace of ...
3
votes
1answer
262 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?
8
votes
2answers
600 views

What are the motivations for which direction syntactic trees are built in (top down or bottom up)?

When I learned x-bar theory, there seemed to be an implicit assumption that trees were built top-down, from IP or CP to the VP and its complement, etc. However, as I am learning more about Minimalism (...
2
votes
1answer
318 views

Origin of *dhvor-

Formerly as I remember I saw somewhere *dhvor- (door, gate, yard, court) connected with the root *vert- (turn) in PIE. This is quite realistic and can be supported with similar Russian words створка (...
3
votes
1answer
353 views

Finding a classroom transcript (for discourse analysis)

I am writing an R package and am in need of a discourse data set (a classroom transcript) that I can publicly include. Quantitative data sets are a dime a dozen but getting a hold of a classroom (...
3
votes
1answer
682 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 "...
6
votes
2answers
238 views

The meaning of “what”?

"What" is defined grammatically as an interrogative pronoun ... used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc. (Wiktionary) In dictionaries, however, ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a difference between plurality in semantics and in morphology?

With regard to morphology a common example of a lexeme is [dog, dogs] where dogs is the plural inflexion of the lemma dog modified by the -s suffix, marking plurality. Although I can accept that dog ...
7
votes
2answers
231 views

Is voicing a gradient scale?

In one online linguistics community, I read the statement that "voicing is not all-or-nothing and that it is a gradient scale." This got me thinking: is this statement true or false? I guess it may be ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How to work on annotating AND sentence-aligning parallel texts?

There are plenty of software programs facilitating interlinear transcription (e.g. Toolbox, Fieldworks Language Explorer). There's also a number of tools that allow you to work on aligning parallel ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Are English 'butterfly', German 'Butterfliege' and Dutch 'botervlieg' cognates?

Yesterday the question was raised why many languages do not share a root for 'butterfly'. When we look at the etymology of the English word, parallels are drawn to Dutch and German forms (OED): OE ...
24
votes
2answers
3k views

Why do languages not share a root for “butterfly”?

In the article The Elusive Butterfly. Iconicity in Language (2001), William O. Beeman draws attention to the fact that most languages do not share a root for their word for butterfly. In other words, ...
14
votes
6answers
12k views

Evidence for age cutoff in foreign accent acquistion

Steven Pinker in "The Language Instinct" claims that there is strong psychological evidence for the existence of a sharp age cutoff for the ability to acquire a flawless foreign accent (I may dig up ...
12
votes
2answers
701 views

How do linguists find the etymology?

I was wondering, what is the method (or the methods) that linguists adopt to understand and know the etymology of a word? Are these methods reliable and in what measure? The knowledge I have on the ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

What explains the Icelandic language conservatism?

The Icelandic language is often used as an example of a very conservative language, compared to other Indo-European languages, in general, and to other North-Germanic languages, in particular, all of ...

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