25 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

It's important to draw a distinction between syntax and semantics. In syntax (how words fit together), words are put into "categories" based on the way they fit together with others. If I ...
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  • 51.9k
18 votes
Accepted

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

The Wikipedia claim that 'the majority of linguists accept universal grammar' is highly unlikely to be true. I would posit an alternative hypothesis: The majority of linguists do not care about ...
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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
10 votes

Could you point out some theories on how the names for numbers developed?

The following theories that try to explain the origin of Proto-Indo-European numerals are mentioned in J. P. Mallory, D. Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-...
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10 votes

Does lexeme and stem mean the same?

A "lexeme" is a theoretical thing, a unit in the mental lexicon. You can think of it as being an entire dictionary entry, but in our mental knowledge bank of what words mean rather than a ...
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  • 51.9k
8 votes

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

While this is an oldish question with some existing good answers, I think there's something fundamental missing from all of them: "Universal grammar" is both ambiguous and vague, and people who "don't ...
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  • 2,585
8 votes

The Theory Against Syllables

The claim that there are no syllables is based on the lack of evidence that the syllable is necessary, so this is an Occam’s Razor argument. If no language presents sufficient evidence that syllables ...
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  • 67.5k
8 votes
Accepted

How to define colors in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage?

Anna Wierzbicka wrote a chapter in her 1996 text Semantics: Primes and Universals on the semantics of colour terms. In this chapter she presents a theory where colours are understood according to ...
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  • 5,425
8 votes

Is linguistics a superset of programming language theory?

Linguistics, as normally understood in the scientific community, is not the study of language, but the study of natural language. As such, programming languages are not part of linguistics. There ...
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  • 6,120
8 votes
Accepted

A question about C-command

Traditionally, c-command does not reach out of a prepositional phrase. Here are two definitions of c-command taken from the literature: C-command: A node A c-commands a node B if, and only if A's ...
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  • 5,290
7 votes
Accepted

Is there a unicode for words?

To once and for all codify all of human language to enable the unambiguous cross-linguistic, cross-cultural and cross-temporal dissemination of thoughts and knowledge has been a dream for thousands of ...
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  • 628
7 votes

What does "generative" mean? Can a linguistic theory be non-generative?

For a short version, I'll cite my proposed tag wiki for generative-grammar: A theory usually associated with Noam Chomsky that accounts for a language's grammar by a system of rules that are able ...
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  • 6,120
7 votes
Accepted

Some questions about the basic concepts in semantics

The terminology is somewhat vague and, to make it worse, sometimes used quite differently across authors and episodes. The SEP article gives a historical overview of the usage of some of these terms, ...
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  • 6,120
7 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

Semantically, there are two main functions in language: reference and predication. Some morphological items or words primarily refer to entities in the perceived world, while other items relate the ...
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  • 305
6 votes

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

There's some nice sources on it in the functionalist camp. Can't find it now, but I think Haspelmath or Croft phrased UG as "whatever is left when we look at all the languages", which in essence is 1) ...
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  • 247
6 votes

Why does there seem to be so much disagreement among linguists?

Actually, there's no more disagreement among linguists than among experts in other disciplines, if you compare like with like (in as much as this can be quantified). You just have to look at exactly ...
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6 votes

How far is Natural semantic metalanguage really natural?

The "Natural" in Natural Semantic Metalanguage is intended to contrast with other semantic metalanguages which use non-linguistic symbols and syntax. Here's an example, which apparently is describing ...
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  • 5,425
6 votes

How does the description of the grammar of a language differ between a traditional and scientific approach?

This is of course difficult to prove, but I would say traditional grammars tend to be prescriptive, i. e. they are conceived as a list of rules to be followed in order to speak the language correctly, ...
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  • 1,185
5 votes

Isn´t there a contradiction between 'feature-checking' and 'no tampering'?

Isn't there a contradiction between 'feature-checking' and 'no tampering'? Yes, there is, for the reasons you outlined. I do not know whether 'no tampering' remains an important principle of ...
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  • 1,856
5 votes

Where did the discussion of the language faculty between Fitch, Hauser, Chomsky and Pinker and Jackendoff terminate?

The debate ended in 2005. Shortly after this, Chomsky (2005/2008 (written in 2005, and circulated, published in 2008) wrote On Phases which did not acknowledge anything from his previous papers co-...
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  • 311
5 votes
Accepted

What is autosegmental phonology?

Understand it against the theoretical background that an utterance is composed of a uniform set of some 20 phonetic features, one per segment, in a "solid" matrix, so an utterance with 30 segments has ...
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  • 67.5k
5 votes
Accepted

How is category theory applied in linguistics?

Here's a short and perhaps inadequate answer: the correspondence is briefly but clearly sketched in the wikipedia article "pregroup grammar". The simplest pop-sci reference I know of is an article ...
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  • 176
5 votes
Accepted

Why long vowels are considered vowels and not 2 vowels

Actually, they are considered to be two vowels. This is discussed in The Representation of Vowel Length, but the really short answer is that long vowels are typically considered to be a single segment ...
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  • 67.5k
5 votes
Accepted

Can we predict language death just by looking at grammar?

You can somewhat predict language death from current available data on the language, but not from the structure itself. A factor that accompanies language death is that speakers have significant ...
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  • 67.5k
5 votes

Relationship between complexity of a sentence and the average distance between the tokens in which we relate

There is no linguistic theory which states this, because the underlying ideas are too vague to submit to theorization. However, you might be able to fill in the gaps. Length requires a standard of ...
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  • 67.5k
5 votes

Is linguistics a superset of programming language theory?

"Does the question of programing language being a subset of linguistics even make sense?" Yes, it does. The programmers doing the programming all speak natural language. Can anyone imagine devising ...
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  • 12.3k
5 votes

/ðæs saɪd/ versus /ɡʊb bɔɪ/ - Assimilation of place versus manner

It is questionable whether there is such a thing as "assimilation of manner" in the same sense that there is assimilation of place. Assimilation of place traditionally refers to wholesale ...
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  • 67.5k
5 votes

What is the proper definition of a verb?

What's a verb? It's different in every language. In English, I can see how you don't want to put is and leaves in the same category. And you're right about why is is considered a verb. But it's not ...
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  • 9,645
4 votes

Does majority of linguists accept universal grammar?

The fundamental problem of the question is that it leaves undefined what "a linguist" is, and there is no common-sense or operational definition that could be applied to conducting a survey, or making ...
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  • 67.5k
4 votes

Why hasn't functional grammar been more popular?

Two disclaimers: It's been a long time ago that I read Halliday, and (secondly) I don't know that anyone agrees with me here. But to my mind, it's not a real theory. He constructs a descriptive ...
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