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: ...
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  • 6,120
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 ...
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  • 1,846
18 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 ...
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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 ...
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15 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 ...
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  • 272
14 votes

Can you give some examples of counter-intuitive phenomena discovered by linguists?

Almost everything a linguist will know about language will be counterintuitive to many native speakers. I've spent years teaching grammar to native speakers of English as well as intro to linguistics ...
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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 ...
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  • 6,120
13 votes

Is Language infinite?

The headline question: Is language infinite? should perhaps invite more scrutiny than it's generally given these days. It was posited by Chomsky in the context of a particular view of language: "A ...
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12 votes

Is music a language?

This is not a question which can be answered with a yes/no answer. Music is like a natural language in some respects and very much unlike one in others. Here are some suggested similarities and ...
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11 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 ...
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  • 5,425
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 ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Any difference between natural and programming languages?

All three of your assumptions about natural languages are questionable. They describe models used by linguists very many of which have been inspired by computer-like algorithms not language itself: ...
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8 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 ...
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  • 5,425
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 ...
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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" = "...
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  • 537
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 ...
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  • 2,273
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.
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5 votes

Question re connection between language and knowledge

The answer to the question as formulated in the last sentence is a resounding no. Language does in no way represent or reflect any underlying truths about the world. In fact, the very definition of ...
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5 votes
Accepted

What is the origin of the "hierarchy of projections", the language system or (some) conceptual system?

I have found a paper that addresses this question directly (finally!). Svenonius & Ramchand's 2014 paper (here) offers an explanation for universal "grammatical zones" that appeals both to innate ...
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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 ...
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  • 9,190
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.
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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 { ...
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  • 182
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' ...
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  • 12.3k
4 votes

Is music a language?

Thank you for digging up the article. I am afraid I find it really feeble. “Zipf’s law” (named after the American Nazi Zipf) is an application to word frequency of a very common statistical ...
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  • 22.6k
4 votes

What are the blanket or general terms representing these linguistic pitfalls?

I don't know of a single term for these fallacies. But I agree that they are related and would benefit from an umbrella term to make it easier to point people to the profoundly problematic nature of ...
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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',...
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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 ...
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  • 6,120
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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 2,324
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 ...
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