50 votes
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Is there any language that uses different pronouns for "we" depending on whether the spoken to person is included in the group?

Yes, this feature is called clusivity, there are dozens of languages that have it, for example Mandarin Chinese, Vietnamese, Malay, Hawaiian, etc. This article has a list of such languages together ...
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35 votes
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Are there languages without words for "father" or "mother" but only "parent"?

The only such language I know about is Pirahã, the indigenous language of the isolated Pirahã people of Amazonas, Brazil. It is minimalistic in many ways, having the least number of phonemes (only 11),...
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33 votes

Is there a language without gender in third person pronouns?

The World Atlas of Language Structures has a feature about gender distinctions in personal pronouns. According to it, there are at least 254 languages without gender distinctions and even 2 with ...
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33 votes

Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

As @YellowSky pointed, a very large number of languages make this distinction. The Wiktionary lists don’t even scratch the surface, since most languages are not in Wiktionary, and the real number ...
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31 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

In Thai, 1st person singular pronouns differ by gender: Masc.: ผม [pʰǒm] Fem.: ดิฉัน [dìʔt͡ɕʰán]
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  • 8,501
28 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

Coming at this from a different direction, Japanese personal pronouns (*) are an open class, with many variations in meaning and connotation. So while there's no official "first-person masculine ...
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27 votes

Are there languages in which "coffee" is not a cognate of a root containing k/q and f/h/w?

First of all I would like to say that these words are not cognates; they are loanwords. The coffee plant is indigenous in the highlands of Ethiopia. It was transplanted to the Yemen in the 14th ...
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27 votes
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Are there languages where a change of character casing can lead to a different meaning of a word?

It’s worth pointing out that uppercase and lowercase characters are mostly a quirk of the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets.[1] While these alphabets probably make up a plurality of written texts,[...
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  • 1,119
27 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

Proto-Afro-Asiatic likely marked gender on second-person pronouns, and many of its descendants do the same. For example, second-person singular masculine is אַתָּה (ʔattāh) in Hebrew, أَنْتَ‎ (ʔanta) ...
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24 votes

Is there a language without gender in third person pronouns?

There are many such languages. Examples include Turkic languages (as kiyoshigaang's answer mentions), Uralic languages (such as Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian), spoken Mandarin and Cantonese, and ...
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21 votes
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Are there any languages without /a/ or /i/?

It depends on what you mean by "/a/", "/i/". First, slash brackets refer ambiguously to "phonemes" or "underlying forms". Only phonetic forms, notated with square brackets, have directly-observable ...
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21 votes
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What's the origin of "You're welcome"?

As the other answers show, English is not the only language with this phrase, but we can examine the etymology of it to explain what it means. When did this usage start? The OED has 3d. A polite ...
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21 votes
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Languages with different words for 'we'

This distinction is called clusivity and as far as I know no language has a three-way distinction here, having at most a two way inclusive (1 & 3 in your list), exclusive (2 in your list) ...
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20 votes
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Do any languages mention the top limit of a range first?

In German, I am aware of two instances where the "reverse" order is used: 1) The weather forecast of the newscast "Tagesschau" (and quite possibly many other weather forecasts, but not all) always ...
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19 votes

Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?

It certainly comes up occasionally, but mainly, I would think, across morpheme boundaries where one is a doubled letter and the other is that same letter but in its singular form (as in the new German ...
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19 votes
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Do any languages use {woman} as the root for human?

In Arabic the word for “human being of either sex” is ʼinsān, from the same root as nisāʼ “women”. The usual word for “male human being” is rajul.
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18 votes

Language that uses [t] (or [k]?) in formal settings and [k] (or [t]?) in in informal

There are a few Polynesian languages such as Hawaiian and Samoan that don't contrast [t] and [k] i.e. [t] and [k] exist as allophones of /t/. The language you're looking for seems to be Samoan where /...
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  • 1,369
17 votes

Is there a language where there are personal pronouns for the first or second person that have gender?

In Spanish that happends for plural: nosotros (1st person plural masculine) nosotras (1st person plural femenine) In Japanese there are several forms for the first form depending on gender or even age!...
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17 votes

Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

Another concrete example to extend upon these already excellent answers is the Swedish language. Here, the terms are "farbror" for a paternal uncle (literally: "father-brother") ...
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16 votes

Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?

Estonian "jäääär" ("edge of the ice") comes to mind. It contains the letter ä 4 times in a row.
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15 votes

Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?

In German, you can make up such words on your own, as needed. Find words that ends with two of some vowel, like schnee (snow), tee (tea) and words that begin with the same letter, and you have: ...
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  • 3,487
15 votes

What's the origin of "You're welcome"?

Visiting Quebec I heard "vous êtes bienvenue" a good few times! I assumed this to have entered the language from English, but this is a part of the world that's very proud of its French heritage (to ...
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  • 251
15 votes
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Is there any language where verb inflection takes place word-initially?

Look into the Bantu languages, such as Swahili. Tense, aspect, and subject agreement are all marked at the beginning of the verb.
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15 votes

Languages with different words for 'we'

I'm from the Philippines and we have different kinds of "we" in Tagalog/Filipino language. We (you and I) = "Tayo" We (them and I, but not you) = "Kami" We (all of us) = ...
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  • 151
14 votes
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Are there any languages which inflect the noun for morphosyntactic categories normally reserved for verbs (e.g. tense, aspect, etc.)?

Here is a relevant Wikipedia article: Nominal TAM There is a fair amount of literature that mentions the existence of languages that mark tense on nouns; the first result I found on Google was this ...
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14 votes

Do any languages mark social distinctions other than gender and status?

One interesting marker of social distinctions is an avoidance register, a special way of speaking to certain family members. You might also hear this called mother-in-law language or hlonipha/...
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  • 51k
13 votes
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Are there any languages in which verbs are a closed class?

Yes: Japanese, Farsi, and Basque are well-known examples. Japanese verbs (and adjectives) are closed class, with new verbal senses almost exclusively expressed by “do verbal noun”, as in 勉強する benkyō ...
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13 votes

Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?

Russian has several words with triple letters: длинношеее - 'having a long neck', also короткошеее - 'having a short neck' змееед - 'snake-eater', the name of a bird доооновский - 'pre-UN'...
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  • 15.4k
13 votes

Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?

Ancient Greek has ἀάατος "inviolable".
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