Unanswered Questions

2,014 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
16 votes
2 answers
1k views

Do dialects without the meet-meat merger neutralize the distinction in some contexts?

For many dialects of English (including my own) multiple historical lexical sets are merged into one "FLEECE" set (this diaphoneme can be represented with IPA /iː/). I've read about the basics of the ...
14 votes
1 answer
491 views

Is linguistic change pushed by humor?

Through "meme culture," young people are inventing all sorts of new linguistic constructions purely because they think they sound funny. The interesting thing is that these jokes don't end at a ...
13 votes
0 answers
2k views

How did Chinese recursion evolve?

The modern Chinese linguistic recursion system is essentially the same as English. If you have a highly embedded sentence, you can translate it word for word, the embedding is very much the same. In ...
12 votes
0 answers
2k views

Do "only if..." and "if... only then..." have the same LF representation?

I'm currently writing a term paper where I am comparing if... then..., only if..., and if... only then... statements. I've noticed that only if p q and if p, only then q have the same truth conditions ...
11 votes
0 answers
333 views

What kind of features support the claim that Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages?

Inspired by this answer to a different question, I ask what kind of features justify a claim that Balto-Slavic languages are closer to Germanic languages than to Indo-Iranian languages. The features ...
10 votes
0 answers
250 views

Is Riau Indonesian really monocategorial?

There have been plenty of publications (mostly by David Gil) discussing how Riau Indonesian is a unique language that lacks word categories. To me, this sounds huge: a truly unique language, no word ...
9 votes
1 answer
447 views

Merger of perfect and aorist in Italic and Celtic

One of the common features of the Italic and Celtic branches is the merger of perfect and aorist. So, in the surviving "perfect" forms we find a mixture of old aorist stems and old perfect ...
9 votes
0 answers
103 views

Is anything known about the origin of the hard "g" in "guénti" in Santiago, Cape Verdean Creole?

There is a word "guénti" /'gɛn ti/ in the Santiago dialect of Cape Verdean Creole, which is used to mean "people" or "you people/you all". It clearly comes from the ...
9 votes
0 answers
339 views

Positive & Negative Polarity Items, and Interrogatives

There are certain items in some languages that tend to occur largely in negative clauses. In English, one such item might be the word ever: *I have ever been to Paris. I haven't ever been to Paris. ...
8 votes
0 answers
88 views

Does Northern Kurdish actually have a paucal number?

For the past 10+ years, the Wikipedia article "Grammatical number" has stated: Of the Indo-European languages, Kurmanji (also known as Northern Kurdish) is one of the few known languages ...
8 votes
0 answers
324 views

Which writing systems have the highest/lowest stroke-to-sound ratios?

Preemptive note: This question is about sound-based writing systems, excluding logographic systems like Chinese. Transitional systems like Egyptian hieroglyphs, Maya script or Man’yōgana are also ...
8 votes
0 answers
84 views

Was the "a" glyph ever used for ajV in Hittite?

As fdb mentioned in a comment: The sequence a-a is a scribal convention for ajV [in Akkadian]. Some Assyriologists treat it as a single sign with the “Lautwert” aju, aji, aja In Hittite, ...
8 votes
0 answers
198 views

Historical pronunciation of Hindi यह and वह

The Hindi 3rd person singular proximal and distal pronouns यह and वह are commonly pronounced [jeː] and [ʋoː], in contrast to the [hyper-correct?] pronunciations [jəɦ(ə)] and [ʋəɦ(ə)] one might expect ...
8 votes
0 answers
270 views

Does anyone know if there are plans for a 'successor' to Huddleston and Pullum (CamGEL or CGEL)?

Huddleston and Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (CamGEL or CGEL) is widely considered a 'successor' to a previous 'great English grammar': Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik's ...
8 votes
0 answers
270 views

Phonological development of Middle Chinese 學 /hæwk/ to Mandarin xue /ɕye/

學 was /hæwk/ according to Baxter-Sagart transcription of Qieyun, and according to this wikipedia page, -æwk became /Jye/ in modern Mandarin, where J is a palatalized initial consonant. What I'm ...

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