42 votes
Accepted

Why isn’t the letter “G” immediately after “C” in the alphabet?

Short answer: The letter G was inserted into the Latin alphabet on the place of the letter Z that was abolished officially at the same time. For more information, see this answer and also this answer ...
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30 votes
Accepted

Does an affinity between languages necessitate that the speakers be ethnically related?

No, this is not generally assumed. In fact, it is assumed that any human (of any ethnic background) can learn any language as first language or second language. Large language families often cross ...
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20 votes
Accepted

How to identify a foreign language from handwriting?

Problem 1. Identify the language I found this diagram (in Russian). It seems to be pretty simple, and it amazingly covers a vast majority of world's languages. I took my liberty to adjust it slightly....
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  • 8,501
16 votes

Why isn’t the letter “G” immediately after “C” in the alphabet?

We know that the Romans invented the letter G, derived its shape from C, and put G in seventh place. jk linked to an answer to a Latin.SE question. None of the answers to that question, nor any of ...
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  • 572
16 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

The first thing to consider is that this is a comedy show, and Lily Tomlin is a comedian. The second is that US speakers of English don't have a lot of exposure to UK accents, especially those most-...
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  • 66.6k
13 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

Lily Thomlin is a comedian. She's playing the supposed difficulty of understanding the accents as a joke. If you pay attention, she laughs quite appropriately to the jokes the others make. When ...
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  • 231
11 votes

Does an affinity between languages necessitate that the speakers be ethnically related?

It does not, it only establishes that there was some communicative contact between the ancestoral populations (which before the interwebs was invented meant "living in proximity"). However, the notion ...
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  • 66.6k
9 votes
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Is there a tendency to name money after other things?

Although anecdotally the answer to the question is a confident "yes", there is a big complication: the many concepts of economic value that are bundled into the Western European concept of "money". ...
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  • 5,503
9 votes

Is there a document to summarize characteristics of various languages?

As usual, yes and no depending on what you mean. I disagree with the characteristics attributed to Japanese, French and German. I do however understand that there are popular language stereotypes, and ...
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  • 66.6k
8 votes

Textbooks in Formal Semantics / Montague semantics

I really depends on what you are after. Here is a list of my favorite text books, together with some short annotations. Heim & Kratzer 1998: one of the best intro to semantics if you are ...
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  • 326
8 votes
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Database of Swadesh lists

Wikipedia (as another commenter already mentioned): 168 languages or language families. Internet Archive: Rosetta Project: Swadesh Lists: 1234 languages - the most extensive I know of (unless you wish ...
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  • 629
8 votes

The Sound of Latin

Vox Latina: A Guide to the Pronunciation of Classical Latin by W.Sydney Allen is probably what you're looking for.
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  • 66.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Reverse-etymology resources

Wiktionary is a great free resource for inflection, meaning, pronounciation, etymology and other information on a large amount of words from many languages, and provides a "Descendants" section ...
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  • 6,120
8 votes
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Is there an aggregation of Oracle Bone Script glyphs?

The largest publication and seriously academically attempted transcription of oracle bones in modern script (using an umbrella method known by Chinese paleographers as 隸定, or clericalification), is ...
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  • 419
7 votes

Charles Hockett - 'F' article?

Here's the citation: Hockett, C. F. (1985). Distinguished lecture: F. American Anthropologist, 87(2), 263-281. The link is here, but it's also behind a paywall. Google Scholar profiles, personal ...
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7 votes

Does a scientific methodology exist for evaluating bilingual dictionaries?

That answer on Spanish SE is misleading on key points - "neural networks" have nothing to do with dictionaries. Let's step back and imagine that we are tasked with creating bilingual dictionaries ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Historical explanations for soft/hard declensions in Czech

Balto-Slavic languages developed their own way to decline adjectives, by combining the nominal forms with the forms of personal pronouns (In Slavic *jъ, ja, je). Many Slavic languages (e.g., Russian) ...
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6 votes

How did Esperanto find "early adopters" for the language?

Unfortunately, my sources for this are in Swedish and/or from old periodicals from the actual time when Esperanto was new, so I can't link anything. If you can read Swedish, find the book called "100 ...
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  • 167
6 votes

What is the relationship between syntax and semantics?

As a supplement to MGN's great answer on CxG in general, there's a closely related approach by Ray Jackendoff and Peter Culicover called "Parallel Architecture" that I think is relevant here. The ...
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  • 2,585
6 votes

Textbooks in Formal Semantics / Montague semantics

I warmly recommend Coppock & Champollion (2020). It's free, very accessibly written and essentially a formally precise version of Heim & Kratzer's style. It also comes with a computer program ...
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  • 6,120
6 votes

A syntactician "must-read" list

I agree with Greg Lee that McCawley is the place to go for the canonical generative treatment of English syntax and that GPSG is the generative counterpart to that. However, things have moved on since ...
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6 votes

What does it mean for a verb to be stative, really?

With English verbs the notion of lexical aspect is only useful up to a point. It's a handy device for explaining things like why some verbs are rarely cast in the progressive construction, or why ...
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6 votes
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Thaqovelith: Is this language extinct?

It is alive enough that there is a Wikipedia entry. It is a dialect of Kabyle Berber indigenously called Taqbaylit ([ˈθɐqβæjlɪθ] if Wiki is to be believed). Shaltz doesn't get more specific than say "...
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  • 66.6k
6 votes

Reverse-etymology resources

The book Romanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch by Wilhelm Meyer-Lübke contains the Romance descendants of Vulgar Latin words. It does not include direct borrowings from Latin (such as Spanish causa ...
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6 votes
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What are some good books/publications that discuss the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?

This list includes both common recommendations and stuff I've actually read: Deutscher, G. (2010). Through the language glass: Why the world looks different in other languages. Macmillan. Gumperz, J....
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6 votes

Good recent historical grammar of Sanskrit, preferably in English?

Burrow’s The Sanskrit language (1955) is still very good (though pre-laryngealist). There is also an English translation of Mayrhofer’s Sanskrit-Grammatik, which is short but also very good.
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  • 22.6k
6 votes

Is there a better series of sentences for observing features of a language?

You're essentially describing the field-worker's script. In reality, such a list is an ever-growing project constructed on the basis of previous results (when e.g. you discover that you can't use the -...
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  • 66.6k
6 votes

*h₁éḱwos > ἵππος, (Aeolian) ἴκκος

Except from Etymologicon Mega (472.12 ίκκος, σημαίνει τον ίππον) it appears in an inscrition from Kalindoia, Mygdonia, Chalkidike SEG 36:626 as a part of the personal name Ἰκκότας (instead of Ἰππότας)....
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  • 2,544
6 votes

Books on historical writing systems

If you can read German, I strongly recommend Hans Jensen, Die Schrift in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften 1969. It is not the most recent book available but it has ...
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5 votes

Articles and books on aspects

Specifically on aspect, Comrie's 1987 Aspect, 3rd printing, in the Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics series. To fit aspect into the framework of the rest of linguistic semantics, Frawley's 1992 ...
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