34 votes
Accepted

Do any languages use words like particles to represent commas, periods, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, etc.?

Wondering if any languages use words, particles, or other speakable markers to represent punctuation like periods, commas, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, question marks, exclamation marks, or ...
  • 54k
12 votes

Do any languages use words like particles to represent commas, periods, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, etc.?

Latin has a spoken marker for yes-and-no questions, though it is not placed at the end of the question, but at the topic word: -ne
11 votes
Accepted

Estimating the number of words in a language before invention of alphabet

I'm afraid I'm going to have to frame-challenge this one. For example, it seems intuitive that a spoken language cannot hold too many words without having a way to write them down (imagine having ...
  • 54k
10 votes

Do any languages use words like particles to represent commas, periods, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, etc.?

It's not so much that languages use particles to represent punctuation, but that some particles can perform the same function as punctuation. It is hard to imagine that this would not go hand in hand ...
  • 3,144
9 votes
Accepted

Why do Korean and Japanese sound similar to each other to native speakers of English?

The similarity in sound is the result of two factors: overlapping phonetic inventories, and word length (which affects syllable duration). If you wanted to quantify the similarity, those would be the ...
  • 70.1k
9 votes

Rejecting writing down a language for various reasons

You may have heard this about Turoyo, though the situation is slightly different from what you describe. Turoyo is a Neo-Aramaic language, mostly spoken by Syriac-Orthodox Christians. In the 1970s, ...
  • 3,144
7 votes
Accepted

Do any languages not have the concept of "words"?

This raises the question, "what is a word?" Perhaps surprisingly, linguists don't have a solid answer to that question. The most common definition cross-linguistically is "a unit that's useful to ...
  • 54k
7 votes

How did the j get the dʒ sound?

The letter <j> originated as a variant of the letter <i>, and only came to be viewed as a separate letter relatively recently. So we need to actually go back to the pronunciation of the ...
  • 5,067
6 votes
Accepted

Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

Yes, English has influenced at least one language's phonology (and probably many more). Japanese did not distinguish the phonemes /ɸ/ and /h/ before English loanwords. You can read a description of ...
  • 16.7k
6 votes

Do any languages use words like particles to represent commas, periods, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, etc.?

Biblical Hebrew, which traditionally was written with very little punctuation, often uses what we call a word (usually translated to "and") but is actually a prefix (ו־ – Hebrew is right-to-...
  • 299
5 votes
Accepted

Would Saussure consider sign language as "parole"?

In the 1960’s, the linguist William Stokoe showed that the American Sign Language is a full fledged language, and subsequent linguistic studies confirmed that sign languages share all the ...
5 votes

Why do Korean and Japanese sound similar to each other to native speakers of English?

Extremely similar phonemic systems. In particular, both languages tightly limit syllable-ending consonants, unlike English which permits almost any consonant to end a syllable. Large numbers of loan ...
5 votes
Accepted

Term for conversation where each person speaks a different language, while understanding each other

One standard term is receptive multilingualism, which can be via the oral medium or the written medium (or of course, both). One definition: This particular description fits the person who ...
  • 5,553
5 votes

Which language has the most distinct written and spoken forms?

The winners are probably writing systems with heterograms: words written in one language but spoken in another. We actually have a few of these in English, such as the abbreviation "e.g." ...
  • 54k
4 votes

Open source probabilistic dialogue state tracker

This Theano tutorial provide a dialogue state tracking systems (slot filling) with a graphical model based (recurrent neural networks) dialogue state representation. You probably need a decently ...
4 votes
Accepted

Why does google translate produce awkward sentences

MT is hard. Google Translate is based on statistical methods with models trained on large bilingual corpora. There are a few rule-based systems that produce better translations but only in closed ...
  • 2,489
4 votes

Speech Pathologists and the International Phonetic Alphabet

Before I retired (7 years ago) I taught a linguistics course in articulatory phonetics from time to time. About half my class were undergraduate majors in Speech Pathology. So that course was ...
  • 12.2k
4 votes

Why do Korean and Japanese sound similar to each other to native speakers of English?

Besides what others mentioned here, there's also the fact that as foreigners, we are more likely to hear the similarities (especially when we know a few words) than the differences. For me, after I ...
4 votes

Acoustic signal to phones?

Phones are a "thing" because they were the first decent method of objectively and accurately recording unwritten languages (in the 19th century). Back then, if you heard a Lushootseed speaker ...
  • 70.1k
4 votes
Accepted

resonance factors

Any cavity that is open to the vocal tract can contribute a resonance. Subglottal resonances are not linguistically controllable, but they exist. Resonances produced in the nasal cavities are widely ...
  • 70.1k
4 votes

Slang, colloquial use, informal speech, etc

Slang isn't necessarily pejorative but, as you mentioned, it does imply use in particular groups. If the phrase started as slang in the '60s and has already become mainstream, colloquial or informal ...
  • 500
4 votes
Accepted

How are the Ogham stones inscribed?

Since you talk about the "original" Irish people, I'm going to assume you mean the original inventors of the script, who spoke an early Q-Celtic language in the fourth century CE. (Also note that ...
  • 54k
4 votes

Do any languages use words like particles to represent commas, periods, hyphens, quotes, parentheses, etc.?

For example, I think I may have read of a language (maybe Chinese) which uses a word to signify the sentence is a question Absolutely, that word is 吗. It's pronounced ma. 我给你一本书 means "I give ...
  • 4,348
3 votes
Accepted

Is there a public sound bank of the IPA?

York University (Ontario, Canada) has a site where you can hear all the IPA sounds: http://www.yorku.ca/earmstro/ipa/
  • 256
3 votes

Is the idea of "simultaneity" in sign language as opposed to "linearity" in spoken language really tenable?

It seems to me that your argument about the simultaneity of articulatory gestures in speech is mostly irrelevant, because the hearer does not perceive these various gestures, but the (single) ...
  • 6,524
3 votes

Is the idea of "simultaneity" in sign language as opposed to "linearity" in spoken language really tenable?

Simultaneity just means producing two or three signs simultaneously. It is common in British Sign Language, of which I have a very incomplete knowledge. All you have to do is pick two one-handed signs ...
  • 181
3 votes

Why does google translate produce awkward sentences

Your question makes some broadly misleading assumptions about both translation and machine translation. The problem here is not "grammatical" correctness. It's not a problem for Google to generate ...
3 votes

Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

English influenced Polish phonotactics in some very frequent words, such as weekend (which currently is a perfectly Polish word for, well, a weekend). In general, /wi/ is not allowed in Polish and a ...
  • 1,753
3 votes

Has English caused any Languages to undergo Sound Change or Grammar Change?

When French borrowed English words that contain [ŋ] (e.g. camping), French kept the [ŋ] sound, which thus became an addition to French phonology.
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