39 votes
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Why was "zh" picked to represent /ʒ/, and where does it come from?

It's based on an analogy s : sh :: z : zh. Since ⟨z⟩ represents the voiced counterpart to ⟨s⟩, at least some English speakers find it fairly natural to use ⟨zh⟩ to represent the voiced counterpart to ⟨...
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  • 16.7k
14 votes

Earliest recognition that Germanic and Romance languages are related

The question should probably be restated as something like "When did people begin to believe that Romance and Germanic languages were related with some scholarly basis for that belief?" The ...
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14 votes
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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 ...
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10 votes
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Which alphabetic writing system first had spaces between words?

If we allow abjads, Imperial Aramaic in Aramaic script was one of the first to consistently use spacing, from the mid-7th century BCE. This might have been due to the influence of Akkadian cuneiform ...
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  • 5,553
10 votes
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Was language invented only once or several times?

The question raises three terminological issues: what is "language", what is "invented" and what is "once"? It does presuppose that there was a prior state without language, and a later state with it (...
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9 votes
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Who said "The difference between a language and a dialect is in who has the army"

אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט a shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot Max Weinreich As WavesWashSands says, the earliest known published source is Weinreich's article: ...
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9 votes
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Is Panini really the father of Linguistics?

It depends what you mean by "father of linguistics". Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī is the oldest surviving work that could be called a complete linguistic grammar. But Pāṇini wasn't writing in a vacuum: his ...
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  • 53.2k
8 votes
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When were linguistics departments first established

Oh, before Chomsky. I have a vague recollection that Leonard Bloomfield helped establish an early department with "linguistics" in its name, but I can't find that. However, note "linguistics" in the ...
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  • 12.3k
8 votes

Who said "The difference between a language and a dialect is in who has the army"

Max Weinreich is usually said to be the person who created the quip, but according to the Wikipedia entry on him, he was actually quoting someone else.
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8 votes

Why was "zh" picked to represent /ʒ/, and where does it come from?

The practice was encouraged by the widespread use of C+h digraphs th,ph,ch and especially sh, allowing the analogy s:sh::z:zh. The modern spelling sh for [ʃ] derives from Old English sc, then sch or ...
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7 votes

Why proto-languages?

The concept of a proto-language stands and falls with a tree model of language evolution. While the tree model of language evolution can be successfully applied to many language families leading to ...
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6 votes

Is Panini really the father of Linguistics?

It is true that Pāṇini is one of the most ancient named linguists in the world (preceded by Yāska, Śākaṭāyana and Śākalya), and is the best-known of that set. It is also true that the Aṣṭādhyāyī is ...
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6 votes

Which famous linguists embrace historical logic to understand language?

You (and the source) are confusing the technical and colloquial sense of the word logic here. When you say There's a certain logic to language. or Even language is logical. you're saying something ...
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6 votes
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What is (or was) the exative case?

With the reference given by Matthew Fulton, the Exative is the case denoting the the direction from, i.e., in more standard terminology, the Ablative. The word exative was an ad-hoc invention of ...
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5 votes
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How and why did Prof James D. McCawley become disillusioned with math?

I don't know the details, but here's what he said in an interview in Glot, a newsletter for linguists. Originally, I was in mathematics, but for no particularly good reason — I really hadn’t ...
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5 votes

When were linguistics departments first established

Of course, there were linguistics departments before Chomsky all over the world. Harvard U: 1941 St. Petersburg U (Russia): since 1932 known as the Department of General Linguistics; goes back to ...
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  • 8,453
5 votes

Nazis considered Slavs as non-Aryans, but did Nazi linguists classified the Slavic languages as "non-Indo-European"?

The Nazi theory, as summarized here, is not about language relations, it is a claim about genetics, and apparently Hitler was inspired by theories of Hans Günther. This book studies Nazi linguistics, ...
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5 votes
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What is the difference between generative grammar and transformation grammar?

The "generative" in "generative grammar" is defined by Chomsky in Aspects of the Theory of Syntax as meaning "explicit". Chomsky compares this sense of "generate" to its use in analytic geometry, ...
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  • 12.3k
5 votes

What was the first human language (lets call it X) for which there is actually an X-English dictionary?

Sumerian and Egyptian are the two languages we have the oldest understandable written texts from. Which one counts as "older" is a difficult question to answer, because we can't make ...
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5 votes
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When and by whom were the terms 'ergative case' and 'absolutive case' coined?

Throwing the term ergative and Ergativ on Google book search I find a salient citation from 1894 in Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde von den Kasus unterscheidet Taplin in den südaustralischen Sprachen ...
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4 votes

How old is linguistics as a discipline?

Modern syntax was first put on a scientific basis by Zelig Harris and Noam Chomsky: Harris with his development of formal models of phrase structure and Chomsky through his elaboration of Harris' ...
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  • 12.3k
4 votes

Is Panini really the father of Linguistics?

Father of Linguistics is not an official title that really belongs to anyone. Panini is very important person in history of linguistics but there is no official body to grant this title to him or to ...
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  • 189
4 votes

How did students learn semantics, if it were belittled from 1910-1965?

There is nothing in that quote which suggests that semantics, or philosophy of language, was “belittled”, any more than observation of the nature of contemporary linguistics “belittles” comparative ...
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4 votes
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What is the relationship of Proto-Indo-European, Indo-European, Proto-Germanic and Germanic?

Indo-European and Germanic are language families, not individual languages, and Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Germanic are each the single language that is the reconstructed most recent common ...
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  • 1,883
3 votes

Zellig Harris and the alphabet

The journal you are looking for can be easily read online on JSTOR. Here is the link to the page of your interest: http://www.jstor.org/stable/594233?seq=22#page_scan_tab_contents However, it's ...
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3 votes
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Cultural bias in early modern Western linguistics

The account that comes to mind that is most à l'époque (early modern Western linguistics being around the time of the Enlightenment and European colonialism, as a rule of thumb, in the 18th century) ...
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  • 5,553
3 votes
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Comprehensive phonological sketches post-SPE

There are vast numbers of such works, if you have the right criteria. As a starting point, there are the volumes in the Phonologies of the World's Languages series. The issue of "framework" may ...
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  • 68.7k
3 votes

What is the current status of (systemic) functional grammar/linguistics

This is a very broad question, particularly since you put systemic in Systemic Functional Linguistics/Grammar in parentheses. If you think about the broader functionalist program, you can hardly ...
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