OmarL
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8 answers
37 votes
7k views
Are there languages that don't have this kind of ambiguity?
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37 votes

Yes there are. Examples include Greenlandic and Cree. It's not exactly what you asked for, as it doesn't depend on whether it's the last antecedent, or second-to-last antecedent. But in these ...

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4 answers
37 votes
7k views
Why do the Romance languages use definite articles, when Latin doesn't?
22 votes

such a drastic structural change The change is not drastic at all! It is a simple case of semantic bleaching (this is where the meaning of a word gets weaker. So you can kind of see how the is a "...

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2 answers
12 votes
4k views
Is the Indo-European language family made up?
19 votes

The Indo-European family is completely made up, yes. But not for the reason cited in that comment. And the fact it's made up doesn't mean it's not real. Sciences often posit the existence of things ...

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2 answers
8 votes
3k views
When people converse in sign language, why do they make whispering sounds?
15 votes

Usually when we sign* we use our mouths to mouthe a word. This can be used to disambiguate certain lexemes (for example, divorce and ex-spouse have the same sign in ASL, so one way to clarify which ...

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2 answers
6 votes
467 views
Is there a difference between Belgian Dutch (i.e. Flemish) and Vlaams?
11 votes

Vlaams is Flemish. Vlaams is the Flemish word for "Flemish". Whether to regard this as a separate language (that's vls) or as a variant/dialect/whatever of Dutch (nl-BE), seems to be a matter of ...

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2 answers
2 votes
3k views
If there is a pattern to Chinese characters
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9 votes

The Chinese characters have not only a pattern, but many, many patterns. But First to clear up some confusion. Radicals are not usually composed of eachother, but are unanalysable. By analogy, a ...

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2 answers
1 votes
347 views
If I learn Persian/Farsi, could I be able to understand Uighur language?
9 votes

No. Your friend is right about Uighur being Turkic. But Persian is not Turkic; it's Indo-European, so lexical similarity between these languages is going to be VERY low and limited to a few loan-...

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1 answers
7 votes
180 views
Is there a term for ASL signs for related concepts that share the same motion and are distinguished by initialization?
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8 votes

I've never learned a term for this and I can't think of a direct analogy in English. This kind of word formation is much more productive in ASL (and in sign languages generally) than in English (and ...

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4 answers
5 votes
4k views
Are there languages with no euphemisms?
8 votes

It's hard to answer a question with a definite negative, since that leaves the possibility open for someone to come along later and say, "I know an example which disproves your position". But I think ...

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2 answers
5 votes
1k views
Where this notation comes from and what it means
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8 votes

Some of your examples have switched the roles of dots and of hyphens. It seems like it.is.dot.separated to some degree That's right. We want to use spaces to mark word boundaries, so we need some ...

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2 answers
16 votes
573 views
Are there signed languages that have a case system?
7 votes

Sign languages generally do not have rich case systems because they tend to be much more head-marking than, say, English. By this I mean that a translation of your Latin sentences into a hypothetical ...

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1 answers
8 votes
103 views
Is mouthing phonemic in American Sign Language or other sign languages?
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7 votes

One example is the fact that divorce and ex are signed the same. So you can distinguish the two by actually mouthing the English word. Another example is that for example write carelessly and write ...

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1 answers
1 votes
617 views
How are bindrunes read?
7 votes

Bindrunes, or ligatures, are rather rare in ON. They are far more common in neo-pagan uses for runes, but that's nothing to do with Linguistics. So this answer will focus on attested, historical use ...

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1 answers
9 votes
149 views
Are there languages that can speak of continous things without discretizing them?
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7 votes

Sign languages. In English for example, we have the words "wide" and "narrow". We can say "a narrow belt" or "a wide belt", but these are "discretizations", aren't they? In BSL, the distance between ...

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1 answers
3 votes
205 views
Do sign languages have words?
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7 votes

wondering if sign language has the concept of words, The notion of "wordhood" is fluid enough that we can make either of the following claims: a sign is equivalent to a word a sign translates to a ...

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3 answers
11 votes
4k views
Why do most languages have a different form for singular vs plural nouns?
6 votes

It is worth mentioning the fact that there seems to be some correlation between the numbers which languages may mark, and the numbers which human brains can treat differently. We can subitise small ...

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1 answers
2 votes
399 views
“We was” and other dialectical variants
6 votes

1) where in the UK is this dialectal usage present? I think mostly in the South-East; Kent, London, etc. 2) what is the origin of this usage? An old usage survived from Middle English for instance?...

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1 answers
2 votes
384 views
Why Creole languages aren't the default
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6 votes

Why aren't Creole languages the default? For the same reason that many (most? all?) living creatures have more than one eye. They live in environments which select for plurality of eyes, so natural ...

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3 answers
3 votes
373 views
Distribution of Tonal and Click Languages
6 votes

Phonemic features which are strongly areal like the ones you mention, and a few others, such as labial-velar consonants as you see on this map, and ejective consonants. They are uncommon for some ...

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1 answers
4 votes
142 views
Peculiarities of English as spoken/written by Norwegians
5 votes

What about translating literally some Norwegian expressions? I've heard someone says "it wasn't only-only" before now, with a thick accent of course. "only-only" is not a ...

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1 answers
-2 votes
167 views
(Ancient Greek) Dogs and Emptiness, κύων and κενόω, related?
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5 votes

The word for empty in Greek appears to be κενό, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱen-. The word for dog, κῠ́ων, is from Proto-Indo-European *ḱwṓ. (This would make it cognate with English hound, ...

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2 answers
3 votes
159 views
Diacritic connecting c and t
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5 votes

It is not a diacritic, it is a ligature. These are probably more common in older typesetting. The same thing can be done with the sequence <st> as with <ct>.

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3 answers
1 votes
753 views
Does a polyglot think in every language he speaks or only in the mother-tongue?
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5 votes

Being bilingual yourself, you should be able to answer this question yourself. But here's my answer: people don't usually think in a language. At least I don't. I think in a language when I am ...

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2 answers
8 votes
340 views
The Cyrillic script among the Slavic people
5 votes

but I'm wondering whether all the Slavic people used the Cyrillic script at some point in their history? Even if we include the Early Cyrillic alphabet, which according to Wikipedia was commissioned ...

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3 answers
2 votes
153 views
Which (australian aboriginal?) language classifies nouns in "upright" things and "lying" things?
5 votes

The language you're thinking of could be Enga. It's got all these existential verbs, depending on the referent! kata- occurs with subject NPs whose typical referents are judged to be tall, large, ...

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6 answers
4 votes
558 views
Do multilinguals have one language they predominantly think in?
5 votes

Me, I am bilingual with English and Norwegian, and I master/have mastered some other languages as well. I'll have some thoughts in English, some in Norwegian or something else, and sometimes in a ...

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1 answers
6 votes
349 views
Understanding the purpose of determiners/articles/demonstratives in language
5 votes

Well, I explained the why it's useful in your other question so if you're asking about the process as curiousdannii said, that is you are asking about the grammaticalisation cycle, I could explain a ...

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1 answers
3 votes
478 views
If we can say the following sounds when whispering
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5 votes

As for the voiced plosives you mentioned, that is b, g, d, and also affricates, such as j (as in jar, the unvoiced counterpart is ch in char)these are distinguished from their unvoiced counterparts by ...

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3 answers
4 votes
1k views
"Den" or "det" in Swedish
5 votes

I have a problem that the language seems to have no grammar in some cases. For instance there is both "en lag" and "ett lag" meaning completely different things but the word "lag" is the same sound ...

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1 answers
0 votes
545 views
Elusive etymology, false cognate?
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5 votes

First off, let me say I'm not sure why your question has so many close-votes: it is directly about the etymology of a word, and so is definitely within scope. Okay, elusive comes more-or-less ...

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