35

Turkish and Hungarian are typologically similar: They are both agglutinating languages with vowel harmony and rather rich vowel inventories. They are, to our best knowledge, not genetically related. Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family including Finnish, Estonian, Sami, and about a dozen languages spoken in Russia. Turkish belongs to the Turkic ...


27

I'll give the glib answer: A straightforward/predictable orthography. Out of all the languages which have established writing systems, the vast majority are to some extent phonemic; not all have a one-to-one correspondence between phonemes and graphemes, but it's generally possible to figure out how a word is pronounced, given nothing but its written form. ...


19

There are many possible answers to this question. Historically, the comparative method was born from observing the regularity of phonological and morphological correspondences between Classical European languages (that is, Latin and Greek), Germanic languages and dialects on one hand and, on the other hand, Sanskrit and Avestan (two "oriental" languages ...


17

Here are some features that are common to many languages, but absent in English. It's worth taking WALS entries with a grain of salt, but the chapters are great at calling out potential issues and borderline cases and identifying areal patterns. In no particular order, here are some common features that English does not have. English does not have an ...


16

You should not confuse the two terms: The Cossacks: are a group of predominantly East Slavic people who became known as members of democratic, semi-military and semi-naval communities,[1] predominantly located in Ukraine and in Southern Russia. The Kazakhs: are a Turkic people of Eastern Europe and the northern parts of Central Asia (largely Kazakhstan, but ...


15

You are using related in two different senses. When linguists refer to languages being related, they almost always mean "genetically related" - stemming ultimately from the same linguistic source. Most linguists today do not regard Hebrew and Greek as genetically related, but there is a respectable minority who believe that we can trace relationship ...


15

As you noticed, there is something common between modern Romance and Germanic languages which is not shared by other Indo-European languages. It does not come from their ancestral languages (Latin and Proto-Germanic), but to the fact that they are part of a sprachbund, called Standard Average European (SAE). Many characteristics of SAE are obviously absent ...


14

Well Papua New Guinea famously has a lot of languages - 830 languages at the last count (and that's languages, not dialects!) However, I'm not sure about how different these languages are, but the numbers are huge and do come from a few different backgrounds. For example, English and Hiri Motu are pretty different languages. If you take the land mass of ...


14

You could equally well ask: why languages? The problem you raise, that "Proto-Germanic" was a huge, blurry-edged mass of dialects and variations rather than a single standardized language, is a valid one. But that's a problem that also exists for modern languages. You can trace dialect continua from Rome to Lisbon, or from Prague to Vladivostok, without ...


13

@Fiksdal, I am the author of this of this version, which is based off of Tyschenko's work, see here Since translating Tyschenko's map, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the original list was made. Not much of Tyschenkos work is online and the best content is in Ukrainian or Russian. I also tried reaching out to the University in Kiev and ...


13

English lacks a simple vowel system: Cross-linguistically, three (/a/, /i/, /u/) or five (/a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/) vowel systems are very common, having a lot of different vowel qualities like English is uncommon.


12

Hungarian belongs to the Ugric subgroup of the Uralic language family, while Turkish belongs to the controversial Altaic language family. Nevertheless, Hungarian has had some kind of contact with Turkic languages, hence the influence in its vocabulary. However language relationship cannot be based on loanwords and contact based influence, but systematic ...


12

Applying the comparative method to contemporary dialects (not MSA) would not result in Classical Arabic, since the contemporary dialects have lost features found in Classical Arabic, such as case. However, parallel to proto-Romance, a proto-language antecedent to the modern dialects could in principle be reconstructed. Ferguson (1959) "The Arabic koine&...


11

It is not Spanish /l/ that "turns into" Italian /i/. It is that the Latin clusters pl-, bl-, fl- became /pj/, /bj/, /fj/ in Italian.


11

In Wolof, a language spoken in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania, the verbs never change their form, it is the pronouns that have the tense. In Wolof there is I-which-is-now, I-that-will-be, I-that-was, and so on, each pronoun has the 5 Wolof tenses, each tense having 2 aspect variants, perfect and imperfect. In other words, you take a past tense pronoun and ...


11

First of all, a warning: all these etymologies are to some extent hypothetical. Especially when it gets back to Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European, there's no actual proof of how the language worked; it's all reconstructed by linguists. But these reconstructions are generally quite informative, even if we can never be 100% sure they're right. ...


10

Bluntly, Slovak and Slovenian have nothing in common other than being both Slavic languages. No more than Slovak or Serbian or Slovak and Ukrainian. This is a question driven by superficial similarity in their names which I'm sure members of both nations are thoroughly sick of. On the other hand, it is true that Czechs and Slovaks will perceive Slovenian as ...


10

Spanish and Italian are both languages descended from Latin. As such, many of their words are cognate sharing a common Latin ancestor, but the sounds in these words evolved over time and evolved differently in each language. In Spanish, pl-, fl- and cl- generally became ll- (pronounced the same as Italian 'gl'): 6.3 Latin initial pl-, fl- and cl- ...


10

As noticed in this answer, Prof. Tyshchenko's work primarily targeted languages spoken in Europe, hence, most of them belong to the Indo-European family (except, probably, only Basque). Even Celtic languages form a mini-group of four. Image courtesy of. I apologize the's no English version of the map with numbers. Although I didn't find any direct mention ...


10

Latin vir, Sanskrit vīra-, Avestan vīra-, Old Irish fer, Lithuanian výras, Gothic wair, all mean “man” and all derive from Indo-European *wīro- (or *uiH-ro).


9

There are forces driving language evolution, and we see two of them at work here. The first driving force is Regularisation. The irregular pattern of latin (indicated by duodeviginti and undeviginti, showing a counting down from 20 instead of counting up from 10) wasn't able to resist this driving force and all quoted modern Romance languages use "counting ...


9

Even if these languages belong to the Indo-European family, there's a huge gap of time and space standing between Pre-Italic and Pre-Germanic languages. "A probable cladistic tree of the IE family"(a) shows e.g. that the Italo-Celtic subfamily and the "Central IE" subfamily (including Germanic) diverges long before Germanic and Indo-Iranian diverged. "...


9

We can't really determine whether an etymology in a dictionary is "correct" or not since we don't know the ground truth to compare. But the editors of etymological dictionaries have taken a great job in preparing them. You can tell good etymological dictionaries by two features Admitting sometimes that the etymology of a certain word is unclear or ...


9

Semantically it seems easier to start from PIE *negʷ- "dark" (the source of the word for "night" in many languages), though of course it's possible that this and the "naked" root are actually the same -- a semantic link doesn't seem impossible. Such an etymology for niger has in fact been suggested by Frisk, specifically from *negʷ-ró- (with the common ...


8

According to Wiktionary (a source I should perhaps have checked before asking), the all- forms ultimately derive from Vulgar Latin alare (attested in the 7th century Reichenau Glosses). This has traditionally been explained as deriving from Latin ambulare via or together with ambler (compare Old Provençal amblar, Italian ambiare, Romanian umbla), but this ...


8

Wikipedia (as another commenter already mentioned): 168 languages or language families. Internet Archive: Rosetta Project: Swadesh Lists: 1234 languages - the most extensive I know of (unless you wish to go and dig through primary literature). Swadesh Lists for some less well-known languages: ca. 290 languages. There seem to be only the raw lists, so if you ...


8

To be honest, I think this is a useless question. All IE languages have preserved certain features of the hypothetical parent language and have lost others. All IE languages need to be taken into account in reconstructing the proto-language. There is no objective way to determine which daughter languages have “best” preserved these features. For example, the ...


8

You may want to look at D. Ringe's On Calculating the Factor of Chance in Language Comparison, which lays out some of the problems. I believe that uncontrolled variables are the greatest impediment to subjecting word-relatedness questions to valid statistical testing. Moreover, the idea that one could ever compute a p-value that a given word of a modern ...


7

The oldest attested form is Old Armenian լինիմ (linim), whose origin in uncertain. Possibly derived from PIE *ḱley- "to lean", whence Ancient Greek κλίνω, Latin clino. See wiktionary for more. The descendant of PIE *h₁ésmi is եմ (em).


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