All Questions

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
17
votes
1answer
376 views

Are first words in signed languages composed of signs that babies frequently babble?

In many spoken languages, the words for "mother" and "father" are composed of sounds that babies make very early. Is there a similar trend for early words that babies babble across signed languages?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Do sign languages inflect?

I saw the statement a few times that sign languages inflect in the same way that spoken languages do, but all examples I came across refer to phenomena that I would classify as word formation rather ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

Is there a difference between /d/ and /t̬/?

IPA contains diacritics for indicating voiceless (/x̥/) and voiced (/x̬/) sounds. There are also different symbols for many voiced/voiceless pairs, e.g. /d/ and /t/ or /g/ and /k/. Is there a ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

What empirical evidence can be produced that all syntactic structure is binary branching?

A tenet of the Minimalist Program is that all syntactic structure is binary branching. Merge always merges two constituents to a greater constituent until the greatest constituent, the sentence, is ...
17
votes
1answer
3k views

Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French number words from eleven to nineteen - history of a bizarre, inconsistent construction

Following Sklivvz's advice, I propose here a question I made in Italian Language. Because I am not sure how I should do this, I will just copy/paste the whole lot. Let's count in Latin from one to ...
17
votes
0answers
380 views

What are the different schools of PIE reconstruction?

I have read some works on Proto-Indo-European which mention different schools that advocate for different paradigms of reconstruction, such as the Leiden and the Erlangen schools. I'd like to know if ...
16
votes
11answers
3k views

Writing systems that do not preserve spoken order

Are there writing systems where there are cases of written form of words not preserving the order of speech, i.e. text(A) precedes text(B) in the written form, but speech(B) precedes speech(A)? Only ...
16
votes
14answers
6k views

Do any languages have kinship terms for the relationship between the respective parents of a married couple?

Do any languages have kinship terms for the relationship between each pair of parents of a married couple? For example, how would a husband’s mother refer to the wife’s mother? Do any of the kinship ...
16
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the longest word without a vowel in any language?

(see edit below before you answer!) I'm not a linguist, but I've always been fascinated by the fact that in Czech, there is a 9-letter word without a single vowel: čtvrthrst. It means "quarter of ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Are there languages in which "coffee" is not a cognate of a root containing k/q and f/h/w?

Is there a language, in which the word for "coffee" does not contain the sounds k/q and f/h/v, i.e. the word has a different root?
16
votes
5answers
4k views

In romance languages, are there examples of male names that derive from female names?

In french, there are many female given names that are derived from male given names. Those names are often obtained by adding "ine", "ette", "e" or "a" at the end of the male name. Examples include ...
16
votes
3answers
7k views

Are there languages without words for "father" or "mother" but only "parent"?

I'd like to know if there are languages where there aren't words for father and mother, but for parent, and how one would say [something like] this to their father in that language: where's mom? I ...
16
votes
3answers
23k 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
4answers
1k views

When were there the most languages?

A friend recently asked me this simple and fascinating question. At what point in history were there the largest number of human languages? Although a really precise answer needs a clear ...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the term for correspondence between the written and the spoken form of a language?

Not all languages have the same degree of correspondence between the spoken and the written form. Saying correspondence, I'm referring to the equivalence between what we write in a certain language ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

Do linguists measure the relation distance between languages? How?

Sometimes, I read passages like: Languages X, Y and Z in region A are closely related to each other, comparable to French, Italian and Spanish in Western Europe. The discussion in the question "Do ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Do any Indo European languages reflect noun class types other than gender?

In the comments of another question about animate as noun gender in some Slavic languages an interesting point was raised. Many if not most Indo European languages exhibit grammatical gender for ...
16
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a term for the syntax difference between English "I like you" and Spanish "Tú me gustas"?

English and Spanish each have one main verb for "to like". In English "to like", the grammatical subject must be the one doing the appreciating: I like her. But with Spanish "gustar", the person ...
16
votes
3answers
5k views

Are Old French and French mutually intelligible?

In Les visiteurs (The Visitors), two Frenchman from 1123 are transported to 1993. In the movie, the visitors from 1123 can understand the speech of the modern French people in 1993, and vice versa, ...
16
votes
7answers
898 views

What is LOLspeak, and does it have equivalents in languages other than English?

I can imagine a French, German, Dutch or Russian version of "teh first language born of teh internets". Does any such exist? And what is LOLspeak anyway. It clearly isn't, as it calls itself, a "...
16
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 ...
16
votes
3answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a well-established metric to measure the effectiveness of a parsing algorithm?

My understanding that 100% accurate parsing (analyzing a text and creating a syntactic tree) is an impossible task for computational linguistics at this moment. However, there are many heuristics or ...
16
votes
3answers
5k views

Can I learn a new language just by listening or watching videos?

The question is a bit more specific than title would suggest, but I was not creative enough to put it so specifically into compact form. Let me explain. When I was a kid I was learning English in ...
16
votes
6answers
5k views

Alternatives to IPA?

Are there any other graphic systems that attempt to be as complete as the International Phonetic Alphabet?
16
votes
2answers
2k views

How could one generate gibberish that mimics a specific language?

If given a list of languages the listener was able to understand or classify, how would you generate textual output using a standard phonetic alphabet, for example IPA, that would sound like a ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the current understanding of Greenberg's classification of African languages?

In a reply to the criticism of his classification of the languages of the Americas, Greenberg (1989: 107) characterized his work on African languages as follows: [...] my classification is clearly ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

Where did the nasal sound in the Portuguese word "sim" come from?

Among the descendants of the Latin word sic ("thus, so, or just like that"), only the Portuguese word sim ends with a nasal consonant. Actually, in modern Portuguese, it ends with a nasal vowel, [sĩ], ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Do all languages have sentences?

This is a pretty basic question I guess, but anyway. Do all (human) languages have sentences? Most linguistic articles I read assume so, but can we take this as an assumption?
16
votes
1answer
946 views

Is it possible to analyse Māori grammar without contrasting nouns and verbs?

In order to prepare myself for a glorious sports event this weekend, I've bought and read a book about Māori. If my sources are to be believed, Māori is relatively close to other Polynesian languages, ...
16
votes
2answers
587 views

Are there signed languages that have a case system?

In a prior question I asked whether word order in ASL has a special significance, which naturally lead to another question: do any signed languages, that is languages communicated mostly if not fully ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

When and where did the guttural 'r' originate?

I have often wondered why French is (almost) unique in the Romance languages in using the guttural 'r' – in particular, the uvular fricative. Apart from Piedmontese / Piedmontese Italian (and even ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

Is "Kent" in Tashkent of Turkic origin or Indo-European?

In Turkish there is this word Kent which means city. Some Turkic city names have this as a suffix, like Başkent and Tashkent. In Azerbaijani the same word, with the spelling of Kənd (Kand) means ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

On the idea that Classical Chinese may *not* be direct ancestor of modern Chinese languages

It's known that Literary Chinese (or Classical; wényán ), the language of historical Chinese texts, differs completely from modern Mandarin as well as from other spoken Chinese languages, not only in ...
16
votes
4answers
581 views

Can one's native medium of language be written, rather than spoken or signed?

(This is probably a poorly-formed question, but I'm really just trying to find out if there's any research in this area.) Most children pick up a spoken or signed language at an early age, and this ...
16
votes
2answers
981 views

Are American English and British English growing closer together or drifting further apart?

I'm mostly wondering about vocabulary (e.g. truck vs. lorry; apartment vs. flat) but I suppose I'd be interested to learn about pronunciation too. Intuitively I feel like this could go either way. ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

How much is known about verb regularization rates?

According to this abstract, published in 2007, "the half-life of an irregular verb scales as the square root of its usage frequency: a verb that is 100 times less frequent regularizes 10 times as fast....
16
votes
6answers
790 views

Have we observed classes changing from open to closed, or vice versa?

Classes of words in languages tend to be either "open" (accepting new members readily) or "closed" (rejecting new members). This distinction is fairly easy to see: compare how readily English accepted ...
15
votes
5answers
6k views

Why do Arabic names still have their meanings?

As someone born in Britain whose first language is English, but with origins in Pakistan and an understanding of both Punjabi and Arabic, it's always seemed to me that most modern Arabic names are ...
15
votes
10answers
14k views

Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

Now and then I am faced with claims that language A is better than B, because of some grammar rules or words or ... But is there really a standard or a method to analyse a language from different ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

What are the reasons to count Armenian as an Indo-European language?

Often I encounter arguments that Armenian is in fact not an Indo-European language. The claims assert that the regular correspondences between Armenian and PIE are too unrealistic, too rare and too ...
15
votes
4answers
16k views

Are Hungarian and Turkish related?

I was told by somebody who has lived near Hungary that she thought that Hungarian and Turkish were related, and that their languages are very similar. A brief google search seems to support this. ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

Which modern, spoken languages do not use the decimal number system?

Rationale: While writing a document about foundations of computer science and describing that a number is a sequence of digits, I was wondering about our relation to the decimal system. In English ...
15
votes
6answers
5k views

Does Pirahã syntax contradict the principles of Universal Grammar?

The Wikipedia article on Universal Grammar cites the research by Everett (2005) about the Pirahã language: Finally, in the domain of field research, the Pirahã language is claimed to be a ...
15
votes
3answers
5k views

Does the letter p in a word mean that the word is not Germanic?

In Germanic languages, the p sound in Proto-Indo-European became f. I have wondered if the p sound means that the word does not come from a Germanic source. This is because words that have p in them ...
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 ...
15
votes
10answers
6k views

Is there an easy way to type IPA?

I'm currently using the virtual IPA keyboard on TypeIt, but it takes forever. Is there an easy way to type IPA? I've found this list of Unicode keyboards on SIL.org but I'm not too sure how to ...
15
votes
6answers
53k views

Why did England not maintain French as a spoken language?

In many countries around the world, especially in Africa, the people natively speak both an indigenous language and French due to French colonization. The Norman conquest of England left us with many,...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

Do some Slavic languages have an "extra" gender distinction for animate nouns?

I seem to recall hearing and reading that certain Slavic languages including Czech treat animate nouns as something like an extra gender. Even Wikipedia in some places counts more than three genders ...
15
votes
2answers
79k views

The Origin of the Word 'God'

I originally posted this a while ago on my blog, but someone recently suggested that I pose it as a question here. A brief Wikipedia search on the origin of the word ‘god’ reveals the following: ...

15 30 50 per page
1
3 4
5
6 7
193