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33 votes
Accepted

What is the name for a placename that contains what the thing is in a different language?

What you are looking for is a tautological place name. Other examples are East Timor (East East - English/Indonesian), The La Brea Tar Pits (The "The Tar" Tar Pits - Spanish/English), and Glendale (...
Robert Columbia's user avatar
30 votes

How does the nonsense word "frabjous" conform to English phonotactics?

You mention the pronunciation /ˈfɹæb.dʒəs/ in the comments; this is how I would pronounce it too. Phonotactics are usually explained in terms of constraints ("you can't do this"), so the ...
Draconis'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
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
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16 votes

How to split pronouns 'whom' and 'whose' into morphs?

You could analyze them that way, sure. Perhaps there's an -m morpheme that indicates the accusative case, as seen in who-m, hi-m, the-m. But I don't think this is a very useful analysis, ...
Draconis's user avatar
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15 votes
Accepted

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.
Draconis's user avatar
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15 votes
Accepted

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 ...
brass tacks's user avatar
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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
  • 18.5k
13 votes

Is there any language where verb inflection takes place word-initially?

Since Bantu has been mentioned, I won't mention it again, much. I'll mention Athabaskan, Ket (not Athabaskan but probably related), Semitic, Berber, Coptic, Bongo, Krongo, Nilotic, Nyulnyul, ...
user6726's user avatar
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13 votes
Accepted

What is the past tense of 'yeet'?

Although it may be tempting to look back towards Old English prototypes, one has to be aware of the time depth of any neologism. That's why finding the first occurrence is so important. The ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,466
13 votes

Is the way words are used the biggest obstacle in understanding science and technology?

No, you do not have a point, because (good) science does use words accurately and unambiguously. But it is probably true that they don't use the words that you would prefer, or assign the definitions ...
user6726's user avatar
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11 votes

Origin of Present Perfect in Romance Languages

The similarity is due to a common pathway of grammaticalistion. The have + past participle form comes from a resultative construction (Bybee, Perkins and Pagliuca, 1994), which commonly leads to the ...
WavesWashSands's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

Is it possible that a language's number system is inherently wrong?

I don't think a number system can be inherently wrong any more than gravity can be wrong; but a system can be confusing from a historical perspective. Numbers seems to be highly subject to reanalyses. ...
user6726's user avatar
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11 votes
Accepted

What exactly a morpheme is

The most important fact about "morpheme" is that it is a claim about the state of a language as it exists at a specific time; it is a concept of synchronic analysis, not diachronic analysis (etymology)...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
11 votes

Is there a name for when a 'c' becomes an [s] sound in words like rusticity, when originally it was a 'c' in rustiC?

This question is a bit complicated. -ity is not really a productive suffix in English; it is the English outcome of the Latin suffix -itas. In the transition from Latin to Romance the sound ...
fdb's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

Why do Croatian and Italian contain the same grammatical endings for nouns and verbs?

These all derive from the original Proto-Indo-European inflections. Compare Classical Latin present-tense verb endings: sg pl 1 amō amāmus 2 amās amātis 3 amat amant And Ancient Greek (...
Draconis's user avatar
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10 votes
Accepted

What are some of the most prefixing languages?

Athabaskan languages would be the "most prefixing", in (a) being almost or in fact exclusively prefixing and (b) allowing many prefixes (11 positions). Papers on Navaho include this, as well as J. ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
9 votes

Origin of Present Perfect in Romance Languages

To the excellent answer by @WavesWashSands I'll only add that some Latin verbs employed a perfective construction with the verb esse "to be" and a participle, which at some point could have motivated ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 1,235
9 votes

Etymology of Sanskrit नारक / नरक [nāraka / naraka]

The etymology is not entirely certain. The historical linguist Manfred Mayrhofer in his Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen (vol. 1, pg. 37) essentially says (this is paraphrased from German)...
Aryaman's user avatar
  • 1,134
9 votes

Is it possible that a language's number system is inherently wrong?

There are examples like this, and we all use that example every day. Look how Arabic digits look like, compared to Devanagari, Gujarati, and other Indic scripts. "૫ ૬ ૭ ૮" are "5 6 7 8" ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
9 votes

Examples of words that are monomorphemic in English, but polymorphemic in other languages

As I understand your interest, you don't need the relationship to be English (monomorphemic) to Other (polymorphemic), it works just as well if you have English being the polymorphemic example and ...
user6726's user avatar
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9 votes

Is there a name for when a 'c' becomes an [s] sound in words like rusticity, when originally it was a 'c' in rustiC?

The specific process that you are referring to is called "Velar Softening".
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
8 votes

How do linguists distinguish between case endings and postpositions, especially in languages which have both and/or have no traditional grammar?

This is a fundamental question in morphology that has consequences going far beyond the simple distinction between case endings and postpositions (which, by itself, is effectively quite thorny in many ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Why "agoraphobia" not "agorophobia"?

The connecting vowel in Ancient Greek compounds depends on the declension of the first noun: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Apart%3D3%3Achapter%3D24 If ...
Nick Nicholas's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

Are there any languages with different plural forms for different numbers?

Indeed! The most common form of this involves having a dual number, used for exactly two things, and a plural number, used for any more than that. You'll find this in older Indo-European languages ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
8 votes

suffixes, infixes and interfixes: help with terminology

The general rule that I learned is: if it comes before the root, it's a prefix; if it comes after the root, it's a suffix; if it comes inside the root itself, it's an infix; if it comes both before ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
8 votes

What is the past tense of 'yeet'?

I have a field sighting of the form "yoten" to report. In January I was involved with the organizing for the big pro-Second-Amendment demonstration in Richmond, VA. One of the central concerns of ...
ESR's user avatar
  • 81
8 votes

Examples of words that are monomorphemic in English, but polymorphemic in other languages

One easy source for this is words that used to be polymorphemic, but fossilized by the time they reached English. For example, "desire", "depend", "destroy", "descend", and "delete" are irreducible ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.7k
8 votes

Examples of words that are monomorphemic in English, but polymorphemic in other languages

An example that springs to mind: English "love" vs. Danish "kærlighed", which is actually tri-morphemic, consisting of "kær" (dear), "-lig" (derivational morpheme creating adjectives, thus "kærlig" = "...
pinnerup's user avatar
  • 1,013
8 votes
Accepted

Origin for specific letters used in Swahili for tenses

First, the "letters" question is answered by understanding that Swahili is (now) written using the Latin alphabet, and the sounds that those represent are the morphemes for marking past, ...
user6726's user avatar
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