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12 votes
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Are there any words understood by speakers of any language in the world?

No. Plain and simple. But let's break down your question. There are several aspects to the whole idea of 'word in a language' that make the question a lot more difficult to formulate properly. In fact,...
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10 votes
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"Den" or "det" in Swedish

Many languages have such an ambiguity built in. It's very common that you can't tell the morphosyntactic properties of a word or even its phonological interactions just from its form, even given ...
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  • 2,208
9 votes

Is there a linguistic term for words that can have the same meaning in different languages?

The term you are looking for (depending on etymological link) is cognate, or false cognate: False cognates are pairs of words that seem to be cognates because of similar sounds and meaning, but ...
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8 votes
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What is meant by the maxim, "Context is King"?

I think it just derives from the belief, common both among Biblical interpreters and linguists, that all meaning is contextual. Some dictionaries make it seem like words just have meanings in ...
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7 votes
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How do we know the definition and meaning of words like "though"

TL;DR The kind of words you're talking about are defined not by their referent but by their function. Meta-words If we were to draw an extremely rough continuum of word concreteness, it might look ...
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  • 2,208
6 votes

Are people's names considered morphemes of a language?

You seem to want to ask whether "Donald" is a lexeme (though Gaston Ümlaut notes that lexemes can also be considered morphemes). There is a category of words that includes names: proper nouns (or ...
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  • 2,705
6 votes

Why is there pressure to change seemingly neutral words that some consider 'offensive' to their more 'neutral' synonyms?

The reason is not about etymology, it is about individual reactions to words. Plainly put, a word is offensive if, when used, a person finds it offensive. If a particular demographic selection of a ...
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6 votes

What is the term for words that were once polite and became impolite?

Pejoration is when a once-neutral word picks up negative connotations over time. A word that is marked by its negative connotations can be called a dysphemism, as in the opposite of a euphemism. But I'...
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5 votes

"Den" or "det" in Swedish

I have a problem that the language seems to have no grammar in some cases. For instance there is both "en lag" and "ett lag" meaning completely different things but the word "lag" is the same sound ...
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  • 4,348
5 votes

Are all morphemes meaningful?

No, there are a small class of morphemes called interfixes which are needed for phonological reasons, but are not considered to carry any semantic content. One example is the i in humaniform.
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  • 5,425
5 votes

Are people's names considered morphemes of a language?

It depends on your definition of morpheme. S. Anderson cites an 1880 characterization by Baudoin de Courtenay (Stankiewcicz translation) that a morpheme is "that part of a word which is endowed with ...
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5 votes
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what is out of context thinking called

I think1 what you're looking for here is that, in Gricean terms, Chris is flouting the maxim of relation, which here means that you don't make an analogy unless that analogy is relevant to the ...
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  • 2,585
4 votes

What does linguistic under-determinacy mean?

Let's make a comparison between formal languages and ordinary (or natural) languages. In the former, you say exactly what you utter. In the latter your communicative intention can differ from the ...
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4 votes

Verb pairs similar to "buy" and "sell"?

These are usually called 'converses' or 'relational antonyms'. There are more than five, actually there are quite a few because not only verbs, but also nouns and other parts of speech can be ...
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4 votes

Verb pairs similar to "buy" and "sell"?

I'm not aware of a special name/class for them. Yet I can imagine some pairs: loan / borrow (I loan to you / You borrow from me) write / read (I write to you / You read from me) send / receive (I ...
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  • 87
4 votes

Does metonymy impart new definitions to words?

Good question! The unsatisfying answer is "it depends". The more satisfying answer is "yes, if you wait long enough". Metonymy is generally a poetic device. Sometimes it's made up in a particular ...
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4 votes

Is there a linguistic term for words that can have the same meaning in different languages?

Besides cognates, there are also chance coincidences (say, Maya vuh and German Buch "book") when clearly unrelated words have the same sound and meaning in different languages.
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4 votes
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Difference between forms of the georgian verbs with and/or without objective version vowel

As a native-speaker I can provide only non-scientific explanations to your questions, but still it may be useful. So, is there any difference between the sentence in (1) and the one in (4) from the ...
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  • 56
4 votes

Can the Hebrew word translated "made" in Genesis 1 be translated as prepared or used?

It is not entirely clear which word you're referring to. Genesis 1 is an entire chapter, comprising close to 400 words, and different translations translate the same word differently. Given that the ...
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  • 617
4 votes

Can we claim that all words derived from the same root must necessarily be related in the meaning?

First, we different words in general have different meanings, even when they are derived from the same root. The whole reason for having different words is to express different meaning, full synonyms ...
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3 votes
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what Egyptian hieroglyph(s) meant/depicted "time"?

It depends on what you mean by "time". 3t means "instant" or "moment"; 88 means "eternity"; sp means "time" as an abstract concept. There are also hieroglyphs for "year", "month", and various ...
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  • 52k
3 votes

"Den" or "det" in Swedish

Two, three homonyms lag (different meanings, identically written/sounding words), here with two genders for the articles: en/et. A German example with the same phenomenon: die Steuer = the tax, das ...
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3 votes

Linguistics concept about meaning of words according to a context

How is called in linguistics the fact some words have a meaning only with other words? Words that have many context-dependent meanings are called polysemes. Although their meaning depends usually on ...
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  • 131
3 votes

Are all morphemes meaningful?

Traditionally, a morpheme is defined as the minimal meaningful unit of language. Under this assumption, every morpheme is meaningful by defnition. However, this is not always that simple. The ...
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3 votes

Are all morphemes meaningful?

Well it depends on how you define "morpheme". Usually, it's defined as a sign, i.e. a form-meaning correspondence. In this case, the answer is "yes" by definition (and the -i- in humaniform is not a ...
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  • 486
3 votes

Can 'a system of rules that assigns [...] meaning in a definite way' be replaced with 'semantics'?

Chomsky (in this passage) defines universal grammar as "a system of rules that assigns sound and meaning in a definite way for an infinite class of possible sentences." He writes that it (=universal ...
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3 votes

Does this sentence have two meanings?

The two senses are specific and non-specific: Specific: A certain person, who happens to be an employee, must leave. ("Employee" is not in the scope of "must".) Non-specific: There is a requirement ...
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3 votes

In case the fregean distinction between "sense" and " denotation" is used in linguistics, what purpose does it serve in this discipline?

George Lakoff pointed out that definite anaphora requires identity of reference between antecedent and proform, while indefinite anaphora requires identity of sense.
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3 votes

What is meant by the maxim, "Context is King"?

Modern context Context is king also seems to be taken up due to the way we communicate and interact. We now often have very short interactions with people and more and more this happens through the ...
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3 votes

"Matter" and "What Matters"; "Substance" and "Of Substance"

My quasi-answer is too long for a comment. Your underlying assumptions reflect a certain philosophy, Platonism (with some Kantian flavoring), so having a firm grasp of schools of philosophy would help....
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