29 votes

Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

No. Language is not something that can be "better" or "worse" or in any way objectively be "ranked". This would scientifically be totally untrustworthy. Going through each of your points: ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
28 votes

Why do some Indo-European languages have genders and some don't?

The origin of grammatical gender is not necessarily well understood, but presumably it originated like any other inflectional feature and then became associated with gender when it was noticed that ...
Cairnarvon's user avatar
  • 2,071
19 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
16 votes
Accepted

Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

This might be similar to asking "which is the best animal?" and "can we rank animals?". Thinking this way highlights to me that we run into two (related) problems in ranking languages: the ...
SusanW's user avatar
  • 282
16 votes

Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

No, this is not possible. As already said by lemontree, most of these points are just totally subjective criteria that you can't possibly rate impartially. The only points where one could see some ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Besides logics, what mathematical tools are used in the study of linguistics?

Nice question, I think this is good to ask for linguistic theory in general, because people who are not so familiar with linguistic research often find this hard to imagine. First of all, logic in ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

Is DNA a language?

DNA is a physical code. It would be possible to encode a natural human language in it just like we can encode English in Morse code. But the natural DNA in our cells does not encode a language, it is ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,186
10 votes

What is the minimal set of words that make a language "complete"?

This is of course highly debated, but some linguists would answer yes, there is a small set of words/concepts common to all natural human languages. The major theory currently representing this view ...
curiousdannii's user avatar
  • 6,186
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
  • 82.9k
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
  • 65.2k
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
  • 1,003
6 votes

What are the practical implications of Ludwig Wittgenstein's theories in the field of linguistics?

I would highlight Wittgenstein's idea of family resemblances, which served as a basis for a very productive field in semantics (specificaly prototype theory). This basically postulates that words and ...
Eleshar's user avatar
  • 2,363
6 votes

How would a trained linguist describe this hypothesis of Symbolic Leverage

"Be brief" is the 3rd Gricean manner maxim of conversation. See Gricean maxims.
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
6 votes
Accepted

Is Linguistic Nihilism a legitimate philosophical/linguistic position?

It's not a view I've ever heard espoused, at least. Language has been serving its purpose quite well for millennia. Plenty of philosophical traditions talk about things that can't be conveyed via ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 65.2k
5 votes

Is math a language?

The thing is that a language, when you get to the core of it, is a system of communications. It is used a means of communicating to talk to others about the world and so on. Math can be considered a ...
Alenanno's user avatar
  • 9,348
5 votes
Accepted

Is there a linguistic notion of a "static" vs "dynamic" noun?

In the philosophy of language and modal logic, the conceptions you label "static" and "dynamic" are called rigid designator and flaccid designator respecively.
Aharon M. Vertmont 's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

How to understand "otherwise experience very largely" in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis?

The sentence parses as follows: { We { { see } and { hear } and { ( otherwise ) experience } } ( ( very largely ) as we do ) } because { { the language habits of our community } predispose { ...
user21820's user avatar
  • 183
5 votes

Is Linguistic Nihilism a legitimate philosophical/linguistic position?

This is mostly not a position discussed in linguistics (it is sort of identifiable as an application of nihilism in philosophy), but on occasion – this is one – linguists can offer reasons to reject ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 82.9k
4 votes

How old is linguistics as a discipline?

Modern syntax was first put on a scientific basis by Zelig Harris and Noam Chomsky: Harris with his development of formal models of phrase structure and Chomsky through his elaboration of Harris' ...
Greg Lee's user avatar
  • 12.5k
4 votes

How can two phrases refer to the same object, but have different meanings?

There is some confusion in the use of the term meaning here. The idea that the lecturer is explaining goes back to Frege's notions of Sinn and Bedeutung. The latter is better translated as 'reference',...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
4 votes

Could we rank languages, saying one is superior to the other?

I'm going to break the trend a little bit and argue for Yes. Lets start with a single language and then make a stupid change to deliberately make it worse. Original language: Hello my name is Ed ...
Edward Kotarski's user avatar
4 votes

Is math a language?

Mathematics itself, just like biology, philosophy, linguistics, ... is not a language or a communication system at all, but simply a science. You may argue about the precise scope of mathematics, but ...
Natalie Clarius's user avatar
4 votes

Are there any two languages which have been interpreted to different forms from speech?

Close to the situation you sketch comes Ottoman Turkish. Officially it was written in the Arabic script, but the Greek, Armenian and Jewish communities in the Ottoman empire used their respective ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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
  • 82.9k
4 votes

Bibliography for a beginner in philosophy of language

A few recommendations: How To Do Things With Words by J. L. Austin. Austin was fighting against the idea that the purpose of language was description, and that propositions with truth values are only ...
matan-matika's user avatar
  • 2,364
4 votes

Why do some Indo-European languages have genders and some don't?

As you already noted, gender or more generally speaking noun class is not a universal linguistic concept. There are a lot of languages in the world with no traces of gender or noun class, not even in ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes

Can someone explain to me the Zipf–Mandelbrot law?

As this is the Linguistics site, I'm guessing it is Zipf's Law you are interested in? If you analyze a corpus of text, and count the number of times each word occurs, you get their frequency. You then ...
Darren Cook's user avatar
3 votes

What is the minimal set of words that make a language "complete"?

I think it is an interesting question, but immensely difficult to answer. First of all, expressions are dependent on both meaning and structure in natural language. In other words: do you want to ...
Raoul Buurke's user avatar
3 votes
Accepted

Examples of small, minimalistic natural languages?

There is one single ritual language that comes quite close with a vocabulary of only some 150 words (having quite broad senses like the Toki Pona ones), namely the aboriginal language Damin https://...
jansegers's user avatar
3 votes

Why do we have interest in (dying) language preservation?

Another point, usually overlooked, is that as soon as a language has a literature of some description, a part of it (rhythmic poems/prose, untranslatable wordplays, etc.) is irretrievably lost when ...
jaam's user avatar
  • 494

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