71 votes
Accepted

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

No, it is not. First and foremost, there are many languages recorded long before the advent of Sanskrit, and many religions recorded long before the advent of Hinduism. The oldest surviving texts in ...
  • 53.9k
44 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

Short answer: the association between the grammatical genders and sociological genders happened very early in Indo-European, but it was an association rather than an equivalence and had many ...
  • 53.9k
39 votes
Accepted

Is the Indo-European language family made up?

The claim cited in the quote is definitely wrong. The existence of language families is inferred from the data on extant and ancient languages, and there is a rigorous methodology used in this ...
30 votes

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Sanskrit is not the mother of all languages. Sanskrit is not even the mother of the modern Indo-Aryan languages of the Northern India. Neither it is their father or grandfather. In fact, no language ...
  • 16.4k
26 votes

Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

In Korean, 오른쪽 wolunccwok "right (direction)" comes from 옳- wolh- "correct" + -은 -un (Attributive) + 쪽 ccwok "direction", literally meaning "the correct direction". Another word for "right side", 바른편 ...
  • 506
22 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

The association was certainly firmly in place already during the time that ancient Greek and Latin grammarians were writing about grammatical gender, so the fact that genus can be translated as "...
  • 16.7k
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 ...
19 votes

Is the Indo-European language family made up?

The Indo-European family is completely made up, yes. But not for the reason cited in that comment. And the fact it's made up doesn't mean it's not real. Sciences often posit the existence of things ...
  • 4,348
18 votes
Accepted

Do the words "angst" and "anxiety" share a common root?

Yes, Germanic angst and Latin anxiety are are derived from the same Proto-Indo-European root, which was something like *h₂enǵʰ- "constrict, narrow". Philippa (2003-2009) confirm that they ...
  • 7,898
15 votes

Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

It exists in semitic languages. "ymn" has directional right as its radical sense in the Ethiopian semitic languages but is also commonly used for good news, e.g., Yemane is a common name there, like ...
  • 251
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 ...
  • 10.5k
14 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

Some time after the middle of the 4th millenium BC. As discussed in this article by Luraghi, IE did not develop sex-based gender distinctions until the Anatolian branch split off, which is typically ...
  • 70k
12 votes
Accepted

How is it that such varied sounds (in major European Languages) came to be represented by the same letter "j"?

This is a question that probably has a quite straightforward answer: historical development. Various European languages adopted the Latin alphabet through different routes and mapped it differently ...
11 votes

What are cognates of "fuck" in other Indo-European languages?

From the Oxford English Dictionary: Probably cognate with Dutch fokken to mock (15th cent.), to strike (1591), to fool, gull (1623), to beget children (1637), to have sexual intercourse with (...
  • 22.8k
11 votes

Does Linear A potentially have the oldest Indo-European text that we know of?

Potentially, but probably not. It's true that the oldest Linear A inscriptions (c 1850 BCE) are older than the oldest cuneiform Hittite inscriptions (c 1750 BCE). However, many linguists over the ...
  • 53.9k
11 votes
Accepted

Why there is a neuter gender in some Indo-European languages, and others apparently dropped it?

The three genders are found in all the oldest Indo-European languages we know (Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Gothic, Old Irish, Old Church Slavonic, Old Norse) with the exception of Hittite. Hittite had two ...
  • 6,524
10 votes

What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?

As I've posted in The Other Place, there was indeed a notion of Latin being a dialect of Greek, which a recent paper has described as "Aeolism". The locus classicus for it is Dionysius of ...
10 votes
Accepted

Two and Three; Four and Five; Six and Seven are paired by their first letters T, F, S

These words show no signs of sharing a common suffix, let alone one that we can identify as meaning "add one." Actually, there is another explanation often used for this kind of thing: sound changes ...
  • 16.7k
10 votes

s / h change in Indo-European languages

This is a common sound change. [h] has no constriction above the larynx, and involves spreading the glottis so that any noise generated is turbulence as the air flows through the glottis. Most of the ...
  • 70k
10 votes
Accepted

Noun inflection in which IE language is close to PIE noun inflection?

A simply approach to the question is to find which language (if any one language can be determined) has the most similar noun paradigm to PIE. The phonology of the suffixes can also be concidered. ...
  • 116
10 votes

Is Sanskrit really the mother of all languages?

Not at all. Sanskrit, Latin and a few other languages had a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European, which was prevalent around 2500 BC on the southern steppes of Russia. It is a fact that ...
  • 363
9 votes
Accepted

What were the westernmost and easternmost Indo-European languages in c. 1350 CE?

The easternmost Indo-European language is Assamese, spoken in the extreme east of India. The now extinct Tocharian language (sc. Turfanian) was spoken around Turfan on the north-east side of the ...
9 votes
Accepted

Subtypes of Standard Average European

1st, Latin is not part of Standard Average European (SAE): the sprachbund is thought to have emerged through language contacts during the early middle ages and later, at a time when (classical) Latin ...
9 votes

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

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 ...
  • 22.8k
9 votes
Accepted

Is it accurate to say that the Spanish language has no connection whatsoever with the Greek language?

No, it isn't. Spanish and Greek are both part of the Indogermanic language family and therefore historically connected. However, this historic connection is rather old, the split between proto-Greek ...
9 votes
Accepted

Are Germanic languages closer to Italo-Celtic languages or Balto-Slavic languages?

The best answer is: There is no consensus about this. In the big tree of Indogermanic languages there are only two intermediate groupings that are generally accepted: Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic. ...
9 votes

Where did the Greek consonant cluster "ps" come from

It's important to note that whilst Greek does spell /ps/ with a single letter, it does not represent a single phoneme, but a sequence of two. In native vocabulary, Greek /ps/ continues the Proto-Indo-...
  • 5,057
8 votes

Has any language ever borrowed an interrogative or relative pronoun?

In general, anything can be borrowed, given intensive and prolonged language contact (Thomason 2001: 63) Borrowed relative pronouns (sources didn't mention examples): Gondi (Dravidian) has borrowed ...
  • 4,229
8 votes
Accepted

What decides the language family of a language the most structure/grammar or the vocabulary?

Your question isn't entirely clear, and Greg Lee has implicitly answered one version, namely how do we determine the subgrouping of languages that we know to be related, for example how do we know ...
  • 70k
8 votes

What language was spoken in East Asia before Proto-Turkic?

As for the title question, the answer would be "many languages, including proto-Chinese". Focusing on the question in the body, the language spoken by the historical ancestors of proto-Turks, there ...
  • 70k

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