21 votes

Are there languages with more vowels than consonants?

Probably the best-known and most often-cited example of this is Danish. Danish is generally said to have around 17 or 18 consonant phonemes, a fairly invariant number. The number of vowel phonemes ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
18 votes

Which non-Indoeuropean languages have noun-adjective agreement?

Egyptian and many of the older Semitic languages put a /t/ on feminine nouns and any adjectives modifying them, and many also mark number (singular, dual, plural) on both. A few of these languages (e....
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
15 votes

Which non-Indoeuropean languages have noun-adjective agreement?

In the Atlantic-Congo languages that have noun classes, and that is most of them, adjectives agree in the class with the noun they modify. In the Bantu subfamily, the adjectives agrees by receiving ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.3k
12 votes

Are there languages with more vowels than consonants?

The conventional understanding of "phoneme" is that it is a segment. There is vast disagreement over what constitutes a "segment". Given that, one example of a language with many ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
11 votes
Accepted

Are there languages with more vowels than consonants?

I have yet to see anyone bring up the Iau language of West Papua, Indonesia, which has only 6 phonemic consonants (not counting allophony) but 8 vowel qualities even before accounting for diphthongs ...
Arcaeca's user avatar
  • 344
10 votes

Is there any modern Indo-European languages with synthetic passive form

The North Germanic languages do! These examples are from Norwegian, but basically the same thing happens in both Danish and Swedish, and apparently also in Faroese and Icelandic. In Norwegian, the ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

Is there any modern Indo-European languages with synthetic passive form

I'll try to give as complete a list as I can, going (surviving) branch by (surviving) branch. Albanian Standard Albanian has a medio-passive voice sometimes described as a passive. It continues the ...
Tristan's user avatar
  • 8,322
8 votes

Which non-Indoeuropean languages have noun-adjective agreement?

In Finnish, adjectives agree with the nouns they modify in terms of case and number.
qrsngky's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes
Accepted

Are there languages without non-finite verb forms at all?

Inuit (Greenlandic) My Greenlandic is rudimentary at best, but as far as I can recall from my uni classes many years back, Greenlandic (and I believe other Inuit) verbs have only finite forms. The ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
7 votes

Is there any modern Indo-European languages with synthetic passive form

In Ukrainian and Russian, you can form the passive voice form of practically any transitive verb by adding the reflexive particle -ся to the active voice form of the verb. Historically, this particle ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.3k
6 votes

Are there languages with more vowels than consonants?

In general, languages with fewer consonants will have more vowels (and vice versa), so as to have as many unique syllables as possible and preserve redundancy. (Danish is an exception.) Hawaiian has ...
nearsighted's user avatar
5 votes

The first multi-syllabic positive integer

You can perhaps answer this question to some degree of certainty using this defunct resource, preserved by the Internet Archive: Numeral Systems of the World's Languages. It contains IPA ...
jogloran's user avatar
  • 5,144
4 votes
Accepted

Is there any modern language that is currently shifting from one stage to the next in Jespersen's cycle?

Welsh is around the same point as French, or maybe slightly further. Literary Welsh retains the original negative particle. Ni chafodd ef ddim syndod Not received he not surprise but everyday Welsh ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 7,454
4 votes

Do any languages regularly derive their words for males from words for females?

Manambu Manambu, native to northern Papua New Guinea, is such a language since the unmarked form is used for females and a suffix is added when referring to males ("-də" or "-d"). ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 538
3 votes

Languages with distinct pronouns for concrete and abstract things

Swahili, sort of. Like many Bantu languages, Swahili categorizes nouns into a large number of genders (or "classes"), and many (though not all) pronouns show agreement with these genders. ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
3 votes

Which non-Indoeuropean languages have noun-adjective agreement?

In Burushaski, adjectives also agree in class/gender with the noun they modify.
earlyinthemorning's user avatar
3 votes

Do any languages regularly derive their words for males from words for females?

German has such kind of derivation, but only marginally, for some animals where the default is female and the male form is marked. Examples include Ente, Enterich or Erpel "duck" Gans, ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
3 votes

Grammatical person and the generic you

The grammatical categories of person and number (which cause verb agreement) don't always correspond with the semantics of what they refer to. This is why "they" takes plural agreement, even ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
2 votes

Is there a language in which the verb "to ask" can be followed by a dative case?

Turkish: Ona nedenini sor. Literal translation to German would be: Frage ihm/ihr den Grund. The asked person is in dative. The topic to be asked is in accusative.
Mete V's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes

Are there languages without the /j/ sound as in English "yellow"?

In Russian, the consonants are arranged into 4-member squads: hard voiceless, hard voiced, soft voiceless, soft voiced. The [й'] sound is voiced counterpart of [х'], and voiced soft counterpart of [х]....
Anixx's user avatar
  • 6,643
2 votes

Are there languages with a third term describing the relationship between opposites?

For 'this' and 'that' specifically—that is, in the sphere of spatial deixis—there are a lot of languages that have a three-way (or more) distinction instead of the two-way distinction most modern ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 2,077
2 votes

Possessive reflexive pronouns (himself's, herself's, myself's, etc.)

Swedish is one such language that distinguishes these two meanings. Here are the main personal and possessive pronouns. (I've left out spelling and dialect variants.) Subject ...
Imralu's user avatar
  • 135
2 votes

Which non-Indoeuropean languages have noun-adjective agreement?

There is a noun-adjective agreement in Georgian (for consonnant endings), in Chechen (class agreement), in Finnish, in Estonian, in Arabic, in Hebrew...
Sebastolaf Gravberg's user avatar
1 vote

When two people talk, and they have different native languages, what is the chance that they speak in English?

Roughly 3% probability, if we just consider random meetings of any two people on earth, and if my math is right. There are roughly 8 billion people, 0.5 billion native speakers of English (1/16) and 1....
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
1 vote

Is there any modern Indo-European languages with synthetic passive form

Punjabi and Sindhi both have synthetic passive conjugations for verbs, formed by infixing and shift of stress from the stem to the infix. An example from Punjabi: ਖਾਵਣ کھاوݨ (ˈkhā.vaṇ) gerund, “to eat”...
earlyinthemorning's user avatar
1 vote

Are there languages with a third term describing the relationship between opposites?

An example from English first: black, grey, white. There is a continuum of color terms where black and white define the endpoints, and grey is between the two. Numerous Bantu languages have ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
1 vote

Languages with different words for 'we'

In Taiwanese (with is a subset of the Southern Min dialect), there is a distinction. “Wen” is exclusive; “len” is inclusive.
Jack's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote

Languages with nominalized verbs that specify the thematic relation of its possessor

EDIT: Re-reading your question, I've just realised you were looking for a difference on the nominalised word itself, not in the syntax of the links to the subject and object of the action, but I'll ...
Imralu's user avatar
  • 135

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