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25 votes

Do languages have any sort of upper limit for how long it takes to say things?

Yes, there does seem to be a limit. Spoken human languages don't like to take too much time, or too little time, to say something. (I fully realize I've cited this paper far too many times on this ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes
Accepted

Do all languages have the same set of grammatical relations?

I assume, based on the your posts elsewhere, that by 'sentence parts', you are referring to grammatical relations (GRs) like subject, object, etc. In the future, it would be clearer for you to call ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

Given all the languages that have ever existed, is there a limit for different parts of speech?

First of all, part-of-speech is not an observable. It is a latent category inferred from the utterances we can analyse. As a latent category, it is dependent on our analysis. There are lots of ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
6 votes

Does [s] before [b] always become [z]?

In Arabic, تَسْبِيح‎ [tasbi:ħ] is pronounced with s. It may well be common in human languages that sequences of obstruents agree in voicing, and the main tendency is for regressive assimilation, but ...
user6726's user avatar
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6 votes

Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

I suspect subjunctive merged with indicative in English simply due to phonetical reasons. Look at Old English: "I ate" (indicative) - Ic æt "I ate" (subjunctive) - Ic æte or "we beat" (...
Constantine Geist's user avatar
6 votes

Human natural language metalanguage

In 1984, I created an Expert System, named XTRAN (TM), whose domain of expertise is computer languages, data, and text. XTRAN parses language content to XTRAN Internal Representation, known as XIR (...
Stephen F. Heffner's user avatar
6 votes

Do languages have any sort of upper limit for how long it takes to say things?

I cannot resist jumping in here. At first I thought this should be a comment, but it's really more of an answer, albeit an answer from a personal perspective, not literature based, and not ...
Krazy Glew's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Is there a language without compound nouns?

Compounding is very rare in Semitic, which appears to contradict the claim. The following is from Orin D. Gensler, 'Morphological Typology of Semitic', in Stefan Weninger (ed.), The Semitic Languages:...
Keelan's user avatar
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5 votes

How does Greenberg’s approach to language universals differ from Chomsky’s?

Greenberg's approach is completely different from Chomsky's. The two differ in what objects are being investigated: data-patterns analyzed in terms of a set of "language types" (G) versus ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes

Does Reduplication oppose any Gricean Maxim?

I don't understand the alternative question. But, Gricean maxims are not absolute rules about human language, they are defeasible assumptions about human social behavior which aid a person in getting ...
user6726's user avatar
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4 votes
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Do other languages than English have verbals ,too?

At least, other Indogermanic languages have the ability to derive nouns from verbs, too. In Latin, there is a suffix -tio, -tionis that forms abstract nouns (like derivatio "derivation" from derivare),...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes

'Before'/'after' as a spatial metaphor: is the opposite possible?

We imagine the time flowing at us from our front to our back, so the future is in front of us and the past is behind us, for us the time flows from the future into the past. I don't know about all the ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
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4 votes
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What would be the obstacles to creating a language composed of all the words of all the human languages existing today?

Languages are more than just collections of words, and you're going to run into many problems at many levels. Let's pick one really obvious problem: What counts as a word? The single Yupik word "...
abarnert's user avatar
  • 2,625
4 votes

Is gradable vs absolute a universal distinction?

I think there is a distinction here, and it's cross-linguistic—but your example falls on the wrong side. Most English adjectives (that aren't already in comparative/superlative form—"*more best") are ...
abarnert's user avatar
  • 2,625
4 votes

Are markedness and the Sonority Sequencing Principle both language universals?

It has been claimed that markedness and sonority sequencing are universals, but whether or not they are depends very much on what is meant by "universal". The usual understanding of the ...
user6726's user avatar
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3 votes

About the universality of the notion of subject and the description of ergativity

Greenberg's universal #38 ("Where there is a case system, the only case which ever has only zero allomorphs is the one which includes among its meanings that of the subject of the intransitive verb") ...
Darkgamma's user avatar
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3 votes

Does [s] before [b] always become [z]?

It has been claimed by some phonological theories such as Lombardi's (1991) that (de)voicing is regressive in nature, which means that in your question we would expect /s/ to become [z] before /b/. ...
Dallak's user avatar
  • 64
3 votes

Are coda obstruents a universal, or is the phenomenon that is caused by coda obstruents (vowel epenthesis) a universal?

First, Tarone has two publications from that year, so it would help to specify which one. Second, it will help you to know that she is working in a specific sub-field of second language learning ...
user6726's user avatar
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2 votes

Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

If I could address the Semitic part of your question: the Arabic past tense (al-māḍī; please note that this word actually does mean “past”) is used in principal clauses for actions in the past time, ...
fdb's user avatar
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2 votes

Are there languages with indefinite articles but for which the word for "one" is not related etymologically to any of the indefinite articles?

Czech seems to be developing some sort of definite/indefinite articles with definite ones being evolved from demonstrative pronoun "ten" (this), while indefinite ones from the undetermined pronominal ...
Eleshar's user avatar
  • 2,363
2 votes

Does each word category have a corresponding phrase category?

Assuming that syntactic analysis is more interested in functional rather than lexical aspects, it would be not implausible that in general, certain POS categories can be subsumed under one syntactic ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
2 votes

Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

At least in my dialect of Spanish (Rioplatense) sometimes the imperfect past tense is used instead of both the subjunctive and the potential in conditional sentences (as exemplified below). This is ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 1,235
2 votes

average root length cross-linguistically

I am pretty sure that there is no "decent" study of the question, i.e. one that is non-anecdotal and is well-balanced in the languages considered, so it's unsubstantiated; but the feeling probably ...
user6726's user avatar
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2 votes
Accepted

What parts of linguistics deal with the differences between text types?

The features mentioned in the last paragraph of the question belong to the domain of corpus linguistics and stylometry. For the categories mentioned in the first part of the question, Systemic ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
2 votes

What grammatical features do SOV languages often share?

One must be careful in making generalising statements, for example, languages without (morphological) case needn't be SVO or OVS, just look at Abkhaz. However there are typically some tendencies or ...
Atamiri's user avatar
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2 votes
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What are the structural similarities that exist common to all languages?

For any specific property you suggest, there's probably a counter-example somewhere. However, the big one that's most often considered universal is recursion. Every known human language (*) has ...
Draconis's user avatar
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2 votes
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About the universality of the notion of subject and the description of ergativity

in the end it seems to me that the definition of ergativity in terms of intransitive/transitive subject and object is hardly satisfying and looks either circular or ethnocentrist. So why is it still ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
2 votes

Languages w/out dependent clauses

It seems Pirahã may qualify (my stress): Since we do not find unambiguous relative clauses in the corpus, we cannot use them to conclude that Pirahã has recursive embedding. As Pirahã isn't a ...
jaam's user avatar
  • 504
2 votes
Accepted

Does [s] before [b] always become [z]?

No, there is no [z] sound in اسبابکشی, have never heard anyone pronounce it like that, the [s] is pronounced like s in someone or ass, but shorter. Except when someone wants to sound funny e.g. in ...
Microsoft Linux TM's user avatar

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