23 votes
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Are there languages with no first person?

In languages that have no category of person, like Manju or Malay, there are dozens of politeness-specific words meaning "I" and "you", most of them being actually nouns. In such languages the same ...
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  • 16.3k
15 votes

Are there languages with no first person?

I is one of the Semantic Primes of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage. Though NSM researchers have not considered every language in existence, they have studied languages from every large family (and ...
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  • 5,443
10 votes

Sapir-Whorf vs. Chomsky

Let's start at the end. It is impossible to talk about original theories in this context. There was actually no cohesive formulation of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. That is a label assigned later to a ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Do animals have foreign languages?

This phenomenon has been studied a lot over the years. People do not refer to it as animal foreign languages but sometimes the word dialect is used. You will find plenty of descriptions in books on ...
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7 votes
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Selective fluency - is it a thing?

One of my MA instructors, Alex Ho-Cheung Leung, has researched this question with regard to phonology. He says that speakers of 'heritage languages' (e.g. spoken within the family but in the wider ...
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7 votes

Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

This is probably not the kind of answer you are looking for, but I guess the following two points would have to be considered as strong indications that meaning is not computed from phonology. ...
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6 votes

Do animals have foreign languages?

There has definitely been a tremendous amount of study on different whale species and their songs. A Science Daily article from 2011 outlines the findings of some researchers regarding regional "codas"...
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6 votes

Are there languages with no first person?

I've found the question interesting and re-read a couple of books today searching for the answer. The books are full of similar examples - languages with only 2 tenses, languages "with no grammar", ...
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  • 320
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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6 votes

How can we use the same word in multiple different ways and distinguish the senses so easily?

The simplest answer is that context is stronger and contains more clues than you think. Have you seen IBM's Watson play Jeopardy? Check out, for example, this video around 45 seconds in. The prompt ...
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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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5 votes
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Experiment of creating an artificial language by cycles of memorizing errors

This sounds like one of the series of papers by Kirby and/or Smith; e.g., Smith, Kirby, Brighton 2003. They just call it 'iterated learning'.
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5 votes

How and when do French children learn to select between masculine and feminine forms of words when referring to themselves?

Learning the correct gender (and number) for referring to oneself is a very minute and relatively easy part of learning genders or noun classes (and number) generally. As such, it follows the same ...
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5 votes

When you think one word, but write another, similar sounding word?

A term I know from psycholinguistics is "phonologically based lexical selection error". That means, when looking up the words you need in your mental lexicon, you already have the almost appropriate ...
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  • 6,120
5 votes
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How to cope with many languages at the same time

1) It is possible to lose proficiency in any language if not used. This may take many forms from total loss to reduced vocabulary or just decreased fluency. 2) & 5) There's no hard limit to the ...
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5 votes
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What's the difference between 'concept' and 'meaning'?

It depends on how you define "concept" and "meaning". Which is to say, neither term is uncontroversially and unambiguously defined, even limiting the discussion to technical linguistic usage. (Or, "...
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5 votes
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What factors determine the numeral coming to numbers such as -1, 0, 0.5, 100% in a language which has and only has contrast in singular and plural?

As pointed out by Michaelyus in a comment, this is covered for two languages (English and French) in the 2003 paper On the Semantic Range of the Plural by Wayne P. Lawrence. Briefly, English and ...
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  • 2,585
5 votes

Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

Interestingly, it is so self-evident that the arbitrariness claim is true that nobody has experimentally verified the claim. But it would not be hard to do, if you have access to a captive subject ...
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4 votes
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Does learning ancestral languages enrich a daughter language?

You have actually asked a few related but different questions here. Does learning ancestral languages enrich a subsequent language? Learning any language may enrich your native language(s): By ...
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  • 1,148
4 votes

Does capitalizing nouns improve readability?

I haven't read any empirical studies myself, but Wikipedia refers to three resources that seem to support this claim, so you might want to consult those studies if you are interested in the details. ...
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  • 6,120
4 votes

Linguistic theory of "signs"

(First, an apology: I don't speak Spanish, and ran your question through Google Translate to understand it. So I may be misinterpreting things.) If I understand right, what you're asking is: "is ...
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4 votes
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What do the terms "External" and "Internal" language refer to?

You are probably referring to the I-language vs. E-language distinction, terminology promulgated by Chomsky in 1986 Knowledge of language. I-language refers to the internal psychological state of an ...
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  • 68.8k
4 votes

How did Proto-Indo-Europeans view the world?

[This is only a bit of an answer, so I just mentioned it in a comment] but Draconis suggested I post it as an answer] From David W Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, beginning of Chapter 8: ...
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4 votes

Why is research on grammatical gender important?

There are a few million answers (32, if I'm not mistaken), here is one. Bantu languages have a complex system of grammatical gender where nouns have some gender, and things that agree with nouns agree ...
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3 votes

Sapir-Whorf vs. Chomsky

I think you've got it the other way round. "Chomskyan" theory of UG is much more of a claim about "the brain", which (in humans) has specific machinery for language. The idea is that the language is ...
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3 votes

Do animals have foreign languages?

Bird dialects within a species were reported in a Scientific American article I recall from a few years ago. Perhaps also dolphin dialects have been investigated. Google will probably get you some ...
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3 votes

Is there a term for a made-up synonym or analogy to describe a forgotten word?

Yep, these are called circumlocutions. Someone who is frequently unable to remember the right words could be diagnosed with anomic aphasia.
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  • 5,443
3 votes

Does learning ancestral languages enrich a daughter language?

I think it would not help at all, and could potentially harm your understanding of your primary language. This is because languages are always changing. If you tried to improve your primary language ...
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  • 5,443
3 votes

Are there languages with no first person?

Vietnamese comes pretty close. Pronouns in conversation are almost all words for family members. The pronoun used depends on relative age. Speaking to a slightly older woman, for example, I would call ...
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