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47 votes
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How did the generic masculine emerge?

In many Indo-European languages, like Latin, the masculine is less "marked" than the feminine, meaning that it's the more basic or fundamental form: the one you use by default unless there's ...
Draconis's user avatar
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22 votes
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Why does Spanish tend to swap letters in words?

Metathesis is common across languages, including in the varieties of Romance that emerged from Vulgar Latin. However, Western Romance had it more than Eastern Romance; within Western Romance, Iberian ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
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21 votes

Morphology vs Etymology

Etymology was the term used for both concepts up to the early 20th century. Then de Saussure postulated the incompatibility of diachrony and synchrony and nothing was ever the same again. Etymology ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
14 votes

Why did the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ change after the 2ndWW in public speech?

The short answer to your question for both English and German is early twentieth century stage pronunciation, an artificial, overarticulated accent designed to project to the back rows of a theater ...
KarlG's user avatar
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14 votes
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Why can linguists decide which use of language is correct and which is not?

Often we are hearing that such-and-such spelling, phraseology, etc is incorrect. Person X made a grammar error, pronunciation error, orthography error, styling error, other sorts of language error. ...
Draconis's user avatar
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13 votes

Why do the same phonological changes happen in multiple unrelated languages?

There are two primary explanations for this. One is that the change is "preferred" on some phonetic ground, for example the distinction between A and B may be particularly challenging to perceive, or ...
user6726's user avatar
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12 votes
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Do languages ever get new cases?

Yes. One well-known example of a case emerging as we write is the Russian neo-vocative: In modern colloquial Russian given names and a small family of terms often take a special "shortened"...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
10 votes
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Do children's mispronunciations influence the development of a language?

Yes, there are such studies. Notably, Jakobson's Child language, aphasia and phonological universals, and David Stampe's The acquisition of phonetic representation in Chicago Linguistic Society, vol ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
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10 votes

When did Spanish develop perfect aspect?

I think this question is confused Latin did have a perfect aspect, it was only available in the present, past, and future tenses (these verb forms are usually described as the perfect, pluperfect, ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,808
10 votes

Limits of historical linguistic reconstruction

You might be interested in Beyond lumping and splitting: probabilistic issues in historical linguistics by Baxter and Ramer (1999). From their abstract: In this paper, we argue that the temporal ...
Draconis's user avatar
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9 votes

Julius Caesar original name spelling?

As others stated, on monumental inscriptions, the name of Julius Caesar would look similar to IVLIVS CAESAR However, saying it was "spelled with an I instead of a J" may be misleading, because 'J' ...
LjL's user avatar
  • 1,847
9 votes

Why do the same phonological changes happen in multiple unrelated languages?

These changes are phonetically "natural" in some sense. For example, [y] (this would be [j] in IPA) is very close to [i] in articulatory terms: both are pronounced by putting the tongue tip close to ...
Mike Maxwell's user avatar
8 votes
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Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Wikipedia has a good summary of the T-V distinction & the various strategies used across different languages. The singular-plural distinction is just one strategy, and not the most common one. ...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
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8 votes
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Etymology of "fiamma" in Italian

Syllable-initial Latin "Xl" clusters, where X is a consonant, regularly become "Xi" in Italian. Examples: platea -> piazza ('square') clamare -> chiamare ('call') flumen -&...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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8 votes
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How do new function words develop in a language?

The process is known as "grammaticalization", and there is a ginormous literature on the topic. There are very many sources: here are a couple of examples. Many languages have a an ...
user6726's user avatar
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8 votes

Spurious Fs' spawning

There is, to the best of my knowledge, no commonly attested general process by which /f/ spawns in the initial position of a word. Or differently stated, this is not a regular sound change. Rather, ...
pinnerup's user avatar
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7 votes

Which languages have absorbed the most vocabulary from Russian, and which languages have influenced its vocabulary?

My guess is this question has more to do with history and culture than language per se. You can say that English was influenced by French 'a lot' due to the Norman conquest (you can probably speak ...
alexsms's user avatar
  • 171
7 votes

Why does Spanish tend to swap letters in words?

The modern language Spanish does not have a significant "tendency" to moving segments (a process known as metathesis), but there are some historical cases of metathesis going historically from Latin ...
user6726's user avatar
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7 votes
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Are consonants more stable than vowels?

There are some factors that make vowels more volatile than consonants in general Consonants have fixed points of articulation and modes of articulation while vowels live in a continuous space In most ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
6 votes
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Generalisation of Grimm's Law?

This set of historical changes define the development of Germanic from Indo-European. The same set of rules could somewhat-accidentally also exist in some other language family -- in fact, the same ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
6 votes

Did the Greek adverb for "late" evolve into a preposition meaning "after"?

ὀψέ has survived in Modern Cypriot Greek, as the adverb ψες "last night". (The deletion of initial unstressed o- is semi-regular; the addition of final -s to adverbs is also semi-regular.) "late" > "(...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
6 votes

Languages that are gaining morphological distinctions

One well-known example is the emerging Russian neo-vocative: In modern colloquial Russian given names and a small family of terms often take a special "shortened" form that some linguists ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

Yes, English has influenced at least one language's phonology (and probably many more). Japanese did not distinguish the phonemes /ɸ/ and /h/ before English loanwords. You can read a description of ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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6 votes

Have words for numbers changed since the introduction of public schools?

In many Bantu languages of Kenya and Tanzania, numbers are now changing, especially those above 10. For instance, the traditional number for "20" in Logoori is makʊmi gavɪrɪ (lit. 'two tens'), but ...
user6726's user avatar
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6 votes
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How do contronyms (aka auto-antonyms) arise?

I would guess each of these words has a different history and therefore the reason for the existence of antonyms is not unique. For example, sanction comes from a Latin root that meant "to decree, ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 1,235
6 votes

Have modern languages slowed down or even stopped from language change?

Nothing, really nothing, can stop language change. It is best seen on the word level: Neologisms enter the language all the time, and other words become obsolete, archaic, and even completely unused. ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
6 votes

Which languages have absorbed the most vocabulary from Russian, and which languages have influenced its vocabulary?

You can find examples of words borrowed into Russian language on Wiktionary RU. However, this is far from being a comprehensive list. The number of words borrowed from Turkic languages is somewhere ...
Vitaly's user avatar
  • 161
6 votes

Why did the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ change after the 2ndWW in public speech?

For the two quoted speakers of German, dialect is an explanation. Brecht is Born in Augsburg (Bavaria) in an area where r's are rolled, and Brecht used Süddeutsche Umgangssprache (Southern colloquial ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
6 votes

Why did the pronunciation of the rhotic phoneme /r/ change after the 2ndWW in public speech?

There is an interesting discussion of Hitler's speech in Hubert's contribution to this thread: https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/40864/gab-es-einen-deutschen-posh-accent What is significant ...
fdb's user avatar
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6 votes
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Are there established linguistic theories which incorporate the concept of "lazy speech"?

I have never seen any publication in linguistics where a fact about language data is attributed to laziness. There is no linguistic concept of laziness. When a person uses "who" rather than "whom", "...
user6726's user avatar
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