26

The origin of grammatical gender is not necessarily well understood, but presumably it originated like any other inflectional feature and then became associated with gender when it was noticed that some prominent things of one natural gender fell into one paradigm and things of another into another, upon which those paradigms might have been generalised to ...


23

Not always. Grimm's Law predicts that Proto-Indo-European *b would turn into Proto-Germanic *p. However, Proto-Indo-European *b is vanishingly rare, and some scholars argue it didn't actually exist in the oldest reconstructable forms of the language (only appearing later). Regardless, though, an ancestral *b is probably the source of a few native Germanic ...


14

No, because PIE *p does not always become f. It does not in the cluster sp, for example "spin" < *spen, "sprawl" < *sper. Germanic p regularly derives from b, e.g. "deep" < *\dheub. Germanic *swompuz "swamp; fungus" is attested in all branches of Germanic as well as Greek σομφός: the reconstruction *su̯omb(h)...


12

That Akkadian word-final -u is the Nominative case ending, the other case endings being -a for Accusative and -i for Genitive. Thus, the case forms of the noun bētu 'house' are: Nom.: bētu Acc.: bēta Gen.: bēti Exactly the same case endings are still present in Literary Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic), although in most spoken Arabic dialects they are ...


12

From what I've heard, Korean has traditionally had two first-person pronouns reserved for royalty: 과인(gwain, 寡人) and 짐 (jim, 朕). They are both borrowed from classical Chinese, I think. Korea does not have kings any more, and we only had emperors for a very brief period (when it was an empire in name only), so I'm not sure if there were ever consistent rules ...


12

If you want inflectional forms, you'd have to look at the major Romance language which still inflects nouns, Romanian. Even there, you will only find a reflex of -orum in the articles as far as I'm aware, but the indefinite article inflects to unor from Latin unorum, and the definite article is even better because, while coming from ille like in other ...


11

(This was going to be a comment but it got too long. I hope it is useful nonetheless.) I can speak for Austroasiatic linguistics (a fairly large family with a small core of researchers actively working on reconstruction). The consensus in the field is that glottochronological estimates are outdated and not particularly useful. In current presentations, ...


10

Some of these words were re-loaned from Classical Latin after the change of Old Spanish /f/ to /h/ had stopped: compare loaned forma "shape" against inherited horma "mold" (as you mentioned in the question), loaned fácil "easy" against inherited hacer "do", loaned fatal "fatal" against inherited hado "...


10

(Latin to French) inflectional forms: chandeleur < festa candelarum leur < illorum toponyms like Villefavreux (< villa Villa Fabrorum) or Villepreux (< villa Piorum) fossilized expressions: French "quorum" maybe French "variorum" "Ouvrage accompagné de notes et commentaires." but I didn't know this word In Old ...


9

According to Travis' comment in a Language Log blog post titled Royal Language, a first-person pronoun 朕 (chin) was used exclusively by the Japanese Emperor. (I note that this seems to be the same as the 'jim' mentioned in jick's answer.) This paper suggests that 'I Ratu' is a second person pronoun used when addressing royalty in Balinese, but also mentions ...


9

I wouldn't say that mixed languages are particularly rare, we can observe them in language contact situations all over the world, as pidgins, creoles, and vernaculars of specific ethnic groups. But it is in the nature of most mixed languages that they aren't stable over time. Pidgins become creoles, and creoles often undergo decreolisation becoming a variety ...


8

Chinese gūlu < *kʰaːroːɡ is probably not onomatopoeic, especially if it came from (PIE) *kʷékʷlos "wheel" (related to English "circle") as Bauer suggests. Japanese guruguru "round and round" is standard onomatopoeic reduplication, like boroboro "old and tattered", wakuwaku "excited" etc. It's not very old ...


8

In fact, alif ا does not mean anything particular and that differs it from the rest of the Arabic letters. It is a kind of a service letter, now it is a support for hamza, now it is written as a horizontal line as in alif maddah آ, now it looks like a dotless yā’ ى, alif maqṣūrah, now it is not written at all (although it should have been there) as in ذٰلِكَ ...


8

For English there exists a list of Basic OCR corrections by Ted Underwood and Loretta Auvil. In the linked blog they also explain how they generated that list of corrections by simulating typical errors automatically. We improved on that for the Royal Society Corpus and our scripts to do that are available for download here. Our approach is tuned for ...


7

No. Some instances of Proto-Indo-European *s were rhotacized in Germanic; some instances of PIE *s went to /x/ in Slavic by the Ruki rule. There is some overlap between the two sets, but the environments of the changes are different and they do not share any phonetic motivation, so it's meaningless to call one change a "variant" of the other. In ...


7

It is natural for a language that has the Dative case to use this case after verbs that have their action addressed for / to[wards] somebody or something, like “to help” and “to give”. In Russian, the corresponding verbs помочь and дать are also dative-governing, although the verbs themselves are definitely not etymological cognates of the German “helfen” (...


7

The occurrence of the sound change [f] > [h] > ∅ in modern Spanish words does seem fairly unpredictable. I think this is a situation where dialect mixing and reborrowing/learned re-formation of words caused a lot of complications. Conditions of the sound change As far as I know, words that had the cluster /fr/ in Latin never exhibit this sound change. ...


7

In Hittite, which is an archaic IE language with the oldest record, the order seems to be fairly free: both Adj+Noun or Noun+Adj are attested.


7

The differences between [b] and [v] are fairly trivial between from a historical and phonetic perspective. The count of shared categories in the IPA chart isn't a good way of judging similarity (and the IPA doesn't claim to embody all relevant concepts of "category"). They are voiced oral labials: you can add "-dental" or "bi-" ...


7

The idea is that the zero-grade of IE *ker, *kor, *kr gives Germanic hraben, with subsequent loss of the initial h-.


7

Sanskrit still had syllabic resonants. Many modern Indo-Aryan languages have lost these. I believe the word Sanskrit entered English via Hindi, which generally reflects Sanskrit ṛ as ri


6

While Akkadian š is generally cognate with Hebrew š or ś, there's good reason to believe its pronunciation was quite different! The reason it's transcribed as š is mostly historical—Akkadian was first deciphered by comparison to other Semitic languages, so when a certain phoneme seemed to correspond regularly to Hebrew š, they named it š. But there's ...


6

You missed Belarusian, where is it ў, pronounced /w/. This is significant as it is the common intermediate between /v/ and /u/. But I'm not sure how to answer you, because I'm not sure what your question means. Certainly /u/, /w/, and /v/ can replace each other between languages, or even within a language in different phonological contexts. For example, in ...


6

The kind of complexity that you are presumably referring to is the number of inflected and derived forms that can be formed from a single root. There are many more forms of the verb, or the noun, in Latin than there are in Spanish, French or Italian, and the same is true of the relationship of Old Norse to Norwegian, Sanskrit to Hindi, Ancient Greek to ...


6

More theory than history for you, but one take on it: Language evolution is an eternal tug-of-war between ease of articulation and information density. We want to say things quickly and learn how to say them easily, but we also want to be able to communicate with nuance. English is a fairly extreme case. For regular verbs, we have only two forms across all ...


5

The genetive singular of "wife" in Old English is wīfes. In Old English, fricatives s,θ,f are allophonically voiced between vowels. Therefore, that was pronounced [wi:vəs]. As explained in that handout on the fricative voicing rule, the rule was much more general in OE and became very restricted over time. The reason for there being intervocalic ...


5

The ending of the nominative singular -u, -un, -um is visible in Akkadian, Arabic, and Ugaritic. It was probably spoken in other languages (e.g. Ancient South Arabian, Ancient Aramaic), but not visible because of the consonantal script.


5

Another good indication is the use of determinatives in linguistically-unrelated languages that share the same writing system. Classical Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform was used to write Sumerian (a language isolate), Akkadian (Semitic), Hittite (Indo-European), and a handful of others from various families. As far as we know, these languages don't have a common ...


5

No. The Russian 'х' /x/ does not count as a rhotic sound despite the fact that some French r's are pronounced now in a very similar way. The Russian /x/ is the end product of a longer chain of sound shifts /s/ -> /ʂ/ -> /x/ in the RUKI environment. High German shows a similar sound shift, the group /rs/ became /rʃ/ (written rsch) as exemplified by ...


5

it's the X-SAMPA symbol for schwa. X-SAMPA was a system for representing the IPA using only ASCII. Now that unicode has become so ubiquitous it's largely obsolete, but you do still occasionally come across it


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