Nick Nicholas
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Why are the reconstructed forms of PIE root in Etymonline and Wiktionary different?
14 votes

Proto-Indo-European has gone through different stages of development historically, which represent higher levels of abstraction. In particular, the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laryngeal_theory, ...

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Analysis of 'fuck off has he', 'bollocks do they', and the like
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12 votes

This kind of construction occurs in multiple languages (e.g. Irish, Cantonese, Modern Greek); it is called Devil Negation, or Rude Negators. Comments above expressed confusion about the examples from ...

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Is there evidence that "proto-" languages actually existed?
11 votes

Proto-languages are indeed theories, the way that Evolution or Gravity is a theory. Confirmation of theories comes through their fit of the data, as @sumelic argues. As theoretical constructs, they ...

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Wordplay in ancient texts
10 votes

Aristophanes (Knights 21–26), much earlier than the Philogelos, punned on repeating molōmen auto, molōmen auto "let us go, that" ending up sounding like the taboo automolōmen "let us desert". ...

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What did the Greeks and Romans believe about language relationships?
9 votes

As I've posted in The Other Place, there was indeed a notion of Latin being a dialect of Greek, which a recent paper has described as "Aeolism". The locus classicus for it is Dionysius of ...

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What is the etiology of the word for ‘pyramid’
8 votes

InB4 Downvote. The entry on pyramís in Chantraine's Etymological Dictionary of Ancient Greek cites two senses of pyramís: "pyramid", and "grilled wheat grain cake mixed with honey" (Ephippus, cited ...

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Animal sounds across languages
8 votes

Onomatopoeia is non-arbitrary, but that doesn't mean it's immune to the normal processes that happen to any arbitrary word—including: arbitrary historical choices of onomatopoeia (like @acattle ...

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Isn't it obvious that linguists must specialize in language contact to study the history of English?
8 votes

Irresponsible? Sure. But also inevitable. After all, Why did the tree model of language affiliation prevail over the wave model? Why do we know more about the history of Cretan Greek than Pontic ...

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Why "agoraphobia" not "agorophobia"?
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8 votes

The connecting vowel in Ancient Greek compounds depends on the declension of the first noun: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0007%3Apart%3D3%3Achapter%3D24 If ...

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What did Sapir intend to say when he wrote that 'whither' repeats all of 'where'?
7 votes

To (1): They can impinge. That doesn't mean they must impinge. And in historical linguistics, the diagnosis of a causation is not predictive that the same change will always apply. It's something that ...

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What is this sentence structure called?
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6 votes

"X is wh-relative clause" is an inverted pseudo-cleft: https://glossary.sil.org/term/pseudo-cleft-sentence. The X is itself a sentential anaphor, and the relative clause predicate restates the ...

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Is There A Limit To Valency/Transitivity?
6 votes

Of course, whether a nominal is a complement or an adjunct of the verb makes a big difference as to whether it should be counted in valency. The artificial logical languages Loglan and Lojban permit ...

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why did the Franco-Provençal language decline in Switzerland?
6 votes

The marginalisation of Franco-Provençal in favour of Standard French predates the modern French state. Franco-Provençal was coextensive with the Duchy of Savoy, and the Duchy adopted Standard French ...

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Are there any proposals for a spelling reform of Modern Greek?
6 votes

The earliest such proposal was Ioannis Vilaras' in 1814, proposing eta (not iota) for all /i/ sounds, and omicron for /o/: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ioannis_Vilaras The most successful such ...

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Minimal English: Lack Of Clarity And Redundancy
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5 votes

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=cbM4DwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=phone&f=false I'm flabbergasted that the Natural Semantic Metalanguage people have ...

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Why was the Passive Present Progressive judged vulgar compared to the Active Present Continuous?
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5 votes

McWhorter doesn't expound why the Passive Present Progressive was judged unbecoming. The answer is in the text: because it was a grammatical innovation. Grammatical innovations are routinely seen as ...

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How often are dictionary etymologies wrong?
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5 votes

I'm going to describe the situation in Modern Greek. In Modern Greek, you will get good etymologies in the the contemporary dictionaries, Babiniotis' and Triantafyllidis', both of which date from ...

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Is the Sanskrit spoken natively in pockets in India changing?
5 votes

I proofread for publication a recent article on spoken Sanskrit: McCartney, Patrick. 2017b. Jhirī: A ‘Sanskrit-speaking’ village in Madhya Pradesh. Journal of South Asian Languages and Linguistics 4, ...

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Why aren't linguists formally trained in etymology?
5 votes

Doesn't Historical Linguistics suffice to train someone in etymology? No, and let's work through the context of McWhorter's remarks to explain why. Modern linguistics, since structuralism—in fact, ...

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When did Nguni languages like Zulu adopt capitalisation of proper noun roots?
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5 votes

I'm building on https://linguistics.stackexchange.com/a/27752/17064, @user6726's answer to the related question. The very earliest renderings of Zulu in Roman script, as @user6726 reports, used ...

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Is the sound "ř" unique to Czech?
5 votes

Another instance, though a sketchy one. At least one description of Tsakonian (I think it's Scutt, C. A. 1912-13. The Tsakonian Dialect I. The Annual of the British School at Athens 19. 133-173) ...

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Greek: differences between words marked as αρχαιοπρεπής, λόγιος or παλαιότερα
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5 votes

παλαιότερα is not "more ancient use", but "older". And that's significant: it can refer to an older Demotic form which is now obsolete. In fact, it is far likelier to be Demotic than Katharevousa. ...

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How does 'like a book' befit the Translative, and not Essive, Case?
4 votes

I can't speak Estonian either, but I can grab the first Google link that comes up: https://www.colanguage.com/translative-case-estonian Estonian cases, like all cases, can develop idiosyncratic ...

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'sibling-in-law' constructions: Why the polysemy/vagueness?
4 votes

The expression of family relations does not occur in a social vacuum: it is tied up with the cultural norms surrounding those relations. If you live in a society where the dominant norm is the nuclear ...

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Do languages still invent absolutely new single words, or is coining done around pre existing words?
4 votes

Do arbitrary coinages happen in language? Yes, but they appear to be rare, especially if we also remove onomatopoeias and sound symbolism from consideration (which OP has not done). FWIW, https://www....

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Abbreviations for pinyin and hepburn transliterations?
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4 votes

ISO has codes for languages (ISO 639), and for scripts (ISO 15924); but it has no codes for transliterations, as you can see by perusing ISO's standards on Writing and Transliteration. ISO adopts and ...

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"Dash" dialog punctuation in different languages
4 votes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark#Quotation_dash: This style is particularly common in Bulgarian, French, Greek, Hungarian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, ...

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What's the opposite of a pejorative suffix?
4 votes

My friend Colin Fine hasn't posted it as an answer, so I will: ameliorative. Colin and I both know the term from Lojban, but you can see it used applied to the Oceanic language Erromangan in An ...

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Are there any languages with a case system like Esperanto's?
4 votes

The Esperanto lexicographer Gaston Waringhien (in his Lingvo kaj Vivo collection of essays) nominated Old French as a language with a comparable case system: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_French#...

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What is the etymology of the Greek word "σαββατισμός" (sabbatismos)?
4 votes

The answer from @hippietrail's correspondent is pretty much on point, but the specifics have not quite been dealt with fully. So: Sabbat-ismos "sabbathism, sabbathisation, sabbathising" is indeed a ...

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