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42 votes
Accepted

Are Hungarian and Turkish related?

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. ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
33 votes

Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

As @YellowSky pointed, a very large number of languages make this distinction. The Wiktionary lists don’t even scratch the surface, since most languages are not in Wiktionary, and the real number ...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
28 votes

How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

Ukrainian and Russian are partially mutual intelligible. I as a native Russian speaker can read Ukrainian and usually understand the most but spoken Ukrainian is relatively hard to understand, ...
user36820's user avatar
  • 289
27 votes
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What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

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-...
Draconis's user avatar
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24 votes
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Worldwide map or data for linguistic distance?

@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 ...
Alternative Transport's user avatar
19 votes
Accepted

Which Indo European language best preserves the features of Proto Indo-European?

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 ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
19 votes

How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

The mutual intelligibility of the Slavic languages (going far beyond the pair Ukrainian and Russian) is a fascinating theme for linguistic research, and there are works out there trying to measure the ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
19 votes

How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

You have 2 questions in 1: How mutually intelligible the 2 languages are. What's more practical to help refugees. In terms of mutual intelligibility, it highly depends on context, an educated (the ...
Eugene's user avatar
  • 447
17 votes
Accepted

How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

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 ...
Frédéric Grosshans's user avatar
17 votes

What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

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 ...
Greg Nisbet's user avatar
  • 1,288
17 votes

Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

Another concrete example to extend upon these already excellent answers is the Swedish language. Here, the terms are "farbror" for a paternal uncle (literally: "father-brother") ...
physicalist's user avatar
17 votes
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How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

The previous answers gave a lot of possible factors, including external ones. I'll give a single example where it clearly has a lot to do with quirks of the harder-understandable language: Danish. The ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Why proto-languages?

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
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14 votes

Can or has the comparative method be used in current Arabic dialects to reconstruct Classical Arabic?

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. ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
14 votes

How similar are Ukrainian and Russian?

Russian and Ukranian are mutually intelligeable to a significant degree... perhaps to greater extent than, e.g., French and Italian. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that the situation with ...
Roger V.'s user avatar
  • 980
14 votes
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If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why are there apparent sound correspondences?

Just as you cannot compare two random species today to accurately assess their taxonomy (otherwise we would conclude all crabs form a single family when they actually form at least five distinct ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,809
13 votes

Worldwide map or data for linguistic distance?

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; the only exceptions being Basque, Finnish, ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
13 votes

What are some interesting features that are common cross-linguistically but don't exist in English?

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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
13 votes

Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

In the Western variety of the Ukrainian language, maternal uncle is вуйко (vujko) [ˈʋui̯kɔ], and paternal uncle is стрий / стрийко (stryj / stryjko) [strɪi̯] / [ˈstrɪi̯kɔ]. Also, by analogy, maternal ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
12 votes

Are there any known natural languages in which tense is never (or very rarely) expressed through the modification of verbs?

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, ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
12 votes

Are Hungarian and Turkish related?

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 ...
Midas's user avatar
  • 2,562
12 votes

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

There are a lot of things factoring in here, the following list is by no means exhaustive exposure to the other language: this is often asymmetric between the languages A and B, and more exposure ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
11 votes

How often are dictionary etymologies wrong?

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 ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Does the English "Garden" come from the French "Jardin" or the German "Garten"?

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 ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 67.1k
11 votes

If Hebrew is not related to Slavic, why are there apparent sound correspondences?

what can be done to rule out false sound correspondences when reconstructing proto-languages The main thing that is commonly done is to not directly compare random words from the modern languages, ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
11 votes

Is Russian the most diverged Slavic language?

Your question shows that you are unfamiliar with both Russian and other slavic languages. To add to Anixx's answer: Think: misliet - misliet - misliec - misliti - misliti - mislityi - mislyati - dumat ...
Eugene's user avatar
  • 447
10 votes

From Italian to Spanish, consonant + "i" goes to consonant + "l"?

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 ...
iacobo's user avatar
  • 3,132
10 votes

How different were Proto-Italic and Proto-Germanic?

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)...
suizokukan's user avatar
  • 2,007
10 votes
Accepted

Are Latin "virīlis", Punjabi "vīr", Old Irish "fer" , Wels "gwr" and Hindi "var" related?

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).
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.3k
10 votes

Is there a shared word for "word" and "thing" in any language other than Hebrew?

The Proto-Slavic word *rěčь “speech” (Old Church Slavonic рѣчь) has its descendants in all the modern Slavic languages, mostly with the same meaning. But in Polish rzecz [ʐɛtʂ] and in Ukrainian річ (...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k

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