All Questions

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
28
votes
4answers
7k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to “person”?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
4
votes
2answers
499 views

What are the rationale of people speaking/teaching Esperanto? [closed]

According to Wikipedia, Esperanto's goal was: to create an easy-to-learn and politically neutral language that would foster peace and international understanding between people with different ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Machine translation - Rule-Based and Statistics-Based approaches

My question is about the current situation in machine translation. I am aware about two main approaches to machine translation. One which is based in a strong way on linguistic theory and another ...
6
votes
1answer
167 views

How did Miskito ligatures develop?

I'm interested in the use of "ligatures", but I'm most interested in the way the ligatures and the possessives can use a combined infix-suffix. I don't understand how such a mixed system ...
9
votes
3answers
9k views

How to determine which phoneme a group of allophones realizes?

This question is related to this other one, about the difference between Phonetics and Phonology. I can understand the difference between the two subfields as well as what it means to produce ...
16
votes
3answers
21k views

Meaning of star/asterisk in linguistics

In some dictionaries/lexica, I've seen the asterisk in front of old words. What does it mean/stand for? Example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Germanic#Pre-Proto-Germanic *ǵʰóstis "stranger" >...
16
votes
3answers
941 views

Are there other pairs of languages that are as close grammatically despite not being in the same language family as Korean and Japanese?

Though there are many theories grouping Korean and Japanese in the same family, none of these are widely accepted by linguists. Yet the grammars of these two languages are extremely similar in many ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the origin of the “hierarchy of projections”, the language system or (some) conceptual system?

All languages display some form of the hierarchy of projections, to the extent we understand what this is: in a given clause, roughly, complementizers are higher than inflectional heads are higher ...
17
votes
4answers
39k views

Automated French/Italian/German to IPA transcription

I'm looking for a website or software that will take text written in a source language and produce a transcription in IPA. The languages I am interested in are French, Italian and German, but if you ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the most commonly used Chinese syllables?

There are about 1200 or so unique (includes all tones) Mandarin Chinese syllables, according to some source I read a while back based off the Unihan database. For my applications I'm limited to using ...
1
vote
1answer
262 views

What are the criteria for deciding whether a language is “a vernacular”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the criteria for deciding whether a language is “natural”? Edited to add: I've been directed by the moderators to revise my earlier question (What are the ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a term for the theory that languages move from one morphological typology to the next in a fixed cycle?

There is a well known theory, widely accepted that as languages evolve their morphological typology changes through the same usual steps. The major steps are I think isolating or analytic, inflected, ...
62
votes
10answers
13k views

Why did early Indo-European languages seem to be morphologically complex?

Apparently there is a general trend that languages lose morphological marking over time. For example, according to this question PIE had 8 noun cases (nominative, accusative, genitive, etc), Latin 5, ...
58
votes
10answers
83k views

When should one use slashes or square brackets when transcribing in IPA?

When should one use /fubar/ and when [fubar] when transcribing in IPA? What are the differences?
19
votes
4answers
5k views

True languages that pirates spoke

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you may already know, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. Since I find the historical subject of piracy quite interesting, specially after reading Pirate Utopias, I would ...
22
votes
5answers
6k views

How did Korean become a language isolate?

According to most linguists, Korean is a language isolate. Why doesn't it have any sister languages, like languages usually do? Why didn't it spread to other areas, or split into various languages? ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

What are the criteria for deciding whether a language is “natural”?

I read in the Linguistics section on the Wikipedia page for American Sign Language that ASL was "proven [to be a natural language] to the satisfaction of the linguistic community by William Stokoe, ...
21
votes
3answers
5k views

Is Yiddish a creole language? And if not, what is it?

A "creole" language is formed by the merging of two parent languages, usually through an earlier rudimentary mixture of the two. Does this make Yiddish a creole language? My question is really about ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

What parts of speech / word classes do languages most frequently lack?

Among conlangers, AllNoun is a notable syntax because it only makes use one part of speech / word class, which is analagous to nouns. A natural language I've heard of (but I can't remember or find a ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

Difference between Minimalism and old P&P

What are the differences between the old Principles and Parameters approach and the developing Minimalist Program? As I understand it, though the MP is just a framework for developing theories in, in ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

What are some reasons languages get picked as source languages for neologisms

For example, Latin is a source language for new words in English and other European languages, and I know English, Sanskrit and Arabic are also source languages in many other languages. What are the ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

Do languages borrow morphemes?

It is clear that languages can borrow words and even syntax from other languages but do they borrow morphemes? For example, the English morpheme -ation has a very specific usage in Portuguese. It is ...
7
votes
3answers
950 views

Are there dictionaries like Collins COBUILD for other languages than English? [closed]

Let me explain what I'm after: monolingual all examples are taken from a large corpus of contemporary text (the COBUILD series is now using Bank of English) the senses for each entry are sorted by ...
14
votes
2answers
526 views

Do all non-syllabic, non-logographic scripts have pronounceable names for their letters for spelling?

If you ask an English speaker to spell a word, there are specific, widely-known names for all the letters to fill this need. The same appears to be true for all Phoenician-derived alphabets that I can ...
14
votes
7answers
764 views

“Overabundant nouns” in Italian: do they exist in other languages?

Under my answer to that question, I talked about a category of nouns that exist in Italian. The italian name is "Nomi sovrabbondanti" or "sostantivi sovrabbondanti", the meaning is roughly "...
4
votes
3answers
619 views

Are there counterparts to phones and phonetics for signed languages?

Given that there is a difference between phonetics and phonology, and that in the study of signed languages cherology is the counterpart to phonology, are there also counterparts to phones and ...
9
votes
2answers
489 views

What is known about the universal aspects of the relation between intonation and emotion?

Are there language-independent aspects of the expression of emotion by intonation? More specifically, are there established relations between the expression of emotion by linguistic intonation and by ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

What is a phoneme in the context of a signed language?

A phoneme is the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language. SIL.
5
votes
2answers
858 views

Verb-attraction parameter in Portuguese

Prof. John McWorther, in his course on Linguistics, said, in a lecture about principles and parameters: "if a language is pro-drop, the verb attraction parameter is always set on. If a language ...
3
votes
1answer
8k views

How are languages affected by substrates vs superstrates?

Firstly since there seem to be multiple meanings of "substrate" and "superstrate" let me start by defining the terms for this question: A substrate language is one that was in a place before a new ...
18
votes
8answers
3k views

Is the countable vs mass noun distinction common outside English?

English makes a difference between count nouns (also known as countable nouns) and mass nouns (also known as uncountable nouns). Count noun: One cat, two cats, few cats. Mass noun: Some information, ...
6
votes
2answers
6k views

What is the primary phonological difference between dialects, vowels or consonants?

Not considering things like vocabulary or syntax (if that is possible), what phonological differences make the most telling distinction between two dialects, is it the vowels or the consonants? ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

In Japanese, why do certain consonants change depending on the vowel?

I was wondering why in Japanese, certain consonants change depending on the vowel. For example: Consonants that do not change: ka / ki / ku / ke / ko na / ni / nu / ne / no Consonants that do ...
11
votes
2answers
409 views

What is the reasoning behind the selection of the IPA symbols?

There are many weird characters in IPA, like Glottal Stop symbol ʔ for example. Why these characters? Is there any reason for selecting them, or was their selection just arbitrary?
15
votes
8answers
4k views

Is the very concept of the phoneme disputed?

I believe there was some important research published in recent decades which brought a fundamental change to the way linguists think about phonemes. Or is it that the concept of the phoneme has ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Corpus of baby-talk or motherese

Baby-talk or motherese is the language that parents tend to use when addressing preverbal or just-starting-to-speak children. What are the fundamental features or rules that define this subset of a ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Are there any fundamental differences in personal pronoun acquisition across languages?

I am interest in reversal errors in personal pronoun acquisition. My knowledge comes mostly from studies done with English-speaking children, and I was wondering if there is any languages where this ...
8
votes
4answers
443 views

What is the name of the phoneme produced in an upper-class Briton's pronunciation of the word “Duke”? What's different in the articulation?

This question has been copied directly from English Language & Usage where it received plenty of interest but the answers had lots of flaws and no resolutions was reached. It was originally asked ...
10
votes
6answers
440 views

Are some languages known to have taken grammatical features etc rather than just lexicon from their substrate languages?

It's common for the language of an area to have replaced an older language previously spoken there. The new language typically will have a few words which can be traced to the old language, the latter ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

How are syllabic consonants written in IPA?

Suppose that, in some hypothetical language, there were two different words: /tump/ /tump/ What's the difference?, you might ask. In the first one, the word is one syllable long. In the second one, ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the difference between a “mixed language” and a “creole”?

A creole is defined as a pidgin (or trading language) which becomes a full language after being used by a new generation as their first language. Generally they take most of their grammar from one ...
42
votes
15answers
460k views

What's the difference between phonetics and phonology?

Having practiced armchair linguistics for some years I should be able to sum up the difference off the top of my head, yet often I don't know which term to use. And looking them up on Wikipedia doesn'...
30
votes
5answers
14k views

Is there a difference between an affricate and a plosive+fricative consonant cluster?

Is there a difference between an affricate and a plosive+fricative consonant cluster? According to wikipedia, there is a difference between a plosive+fricative sequence, as in the following example ...
6
votes
2answers
362 views

Where could I find a corpus that is purely descriptive in nature and limited in scope?

I'm trying to build a cognitive model of how people learn a event representation from a sentence describing the event, based on St. John & McClelland's Sentence Gestalt Model. However, while ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a difference between /ɕ/ and /sʲ/?

Are /ɕ/ and /ʑ/ simply shorthand for /sʲ/ and /zʲ/ as with many of the possible diacritic combinations in IPA or are they different sounds? If they are the same, is there any good reason to use one ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Distinguishing dialects objectively: lexical sets in non-English settings

The concept of lexical set is a useful technique for differentiating accents or dialects within a language. A lexical set is a set of all words/syllables that are pronounced with the same vowel. These ...
26
votes
5answers
1k views

Which Romance languages have reflexes of the Latin nominative in nouns?

It is generally accepted that the nominal forms in the Romance languages represent reflexes of the Latin accusative rather than the nominative. (This is even true for those languages that have ...
7
votes
2answers
212 views

What is the terminology for a source language for new word production?

For example, Latin is used as a source language for scientific terms in many European languages, and English is used as a source for technology-related terms in other languages
13
votes
5answers
5k views

Why is prescriptivism criticized?

Several linguists criticize prescriptivism. Stephen Pinker is probably the one to have made the strongest case against it. But, is their criticism based on a methodological principle (the abstraction ...
25
votes
5answers
606 views

What has NLP/CL brought to the table of pencil-and-paper linguistics?

What role do NLP (natural language processing) and/or CL (Computational linguistics) play in today's theoretical linguistics? Does, for instance, computability and formal specification play a big ...

15 30 50 per page