melissa_boiko
  • Member for 10 years, 2 months
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  • Bochum, Germany
8 answers
33 votes
21k views
Why do Japanese people have difficulties in pronouncing English?
110 votes

Several reasons: English pronunciation isn't easy Don't think that, just because you find it easy, most people in the world will; English pronunciation is actually quite complex by any measure. ...

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12 answers
20 votes
5k views
Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?
33 votes

As @YellowSky pointed, a very large number of languages make this distinction. The Wiktionary lists don’t even scratch the surface, since most languages are not in Wiktionary, and the real number ...

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1 answers
8 votes
2k views
Relationship between Geneva and gin?
25 votes

Gin is abbreviation from genever, originally Dutch, where the word means "juniper". The original drink was made from fermented juniper berries in the Netherlands. The word genever (juniper) ...

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2 answers
13 votes
2k views
How does ghetto talk work in tonal languages?
17 votes

Yes, your assumption on a correlation between pitch variance and vocabulary size is wrong. The use of pitch you speak of is called "prosody" in linguistics; different speaking groups in society may ...

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2 answers
11 votes
1k views
Is use of sorting expected and used in East Asian languages (Chinese, Japanese, Korean)?
16 votes

Yes, all of these cultures expect and use sorting pretty much just like alphabet-using cultures do. Japanese has a set of some 46 phonetic characters called kana. They're arranged by phonetics in a ...

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8 answers
23 votes
4k views
What are some alternatives to Chomskian generative grammar?
13 votes

Don’t forget the “no particular approach” approach. Haspelmath: “If there are no frameworks, then what should I teach my students in syntax classes? My answer is: The best syntax class is a field ...

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3 answers
-5 votes
295 views
Why the words for pineapple sound so similar in Hebrew and in German?
11 votes

Ananas is not from Hebrew. It is from a South American language, Old Tupi, from the same area where the fruit is native – the Amazon rainforest, not the Middle East. Tupi natives called the fruit ...

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1 answers
1 votes
142 views
Do words Deus and idea share the root?
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11 votes

Deus "god" is believed to come from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *deywós, a derivative of *dyew- "sky, bright" (from which we get words like Latin dīes "day"). "Idea" comes from Greek idéia, from PIE *...

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3 answers
8 votes
2k views
Are there any languages with only front vowels?
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11 votes

Regarding "why", it's believed that most languages will go for "maximal dispersion" and try to have vowels as acoustically distinct as possible (or, as easily learnable as possible). So if they ...

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4 answers
12 votes
3k views
Why are some linguists and other people very much against conlangs?
11 votes

Not sure about being “against”, but I’ve seen some linguists dismiss conlang studies due to a strong form of nativism. Suppose you’re convinced that 1) all languages are variations of an universal, ...

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1 answers
4 votes
288 views
Japanese kun'yomi with final N?
10 votes

Kun-readings are an orthographic notation for the native lexical stratum (Yamato-kotoba). So the underlying question is, are there native morphemes with closed syllables (that is, with a consonant at ...

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2 answers
2 votes
601 views
Trying to make sense of "...but voiced obstruents are not always voiced"
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9 votes

The basic rule is that players from Shirtless Team are always shirtless, but players from Shirt Team don't always wear shirts. Sometimes, at the end of the day, it gets too hot and they take off ...

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19 answers
14 votes
8k views
Which languages have words containing the same letter three times in a row?
9 votes

Japanese has a prefix ō-, meaning "big" and pronounced as a long "o" (as if pronouncing two "o"s in a row), which in kana writing is おお. If this prefix is added to any word starting with お, you'll ...

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1 answers
1 votes
282 views
Etymology of ぐるぐる
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8 votes

Chinese gūlu < *kʰaːroːɡ is probably not onomatopoeic, especially if it came from (PIE) *kʷékʷlos "wheel" (related to English "circle") as Bauer suggests. Japanese guruguru &...

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1 answers
0 votes
79 views
Is by - near - related to bi - double?
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8 votes

Latin bi- comes from earlier Latin dui-. It’s related to Greek di-, coming ultimately from Proto-Indo-European (PIE) *dwís ‘double’, a form of *dwóh₁ ‘two’ (from which the English). Latin compounds ...

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1 answers
0 votes
93 views
Do stressed (in e.g. English) or pitched (in e.g. Japanese) phones contribute to different phonemes?
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8 votes

Whether we call something a "phoneme" or not depends on the kind of theory and analysis. It’s just an arbitrary tool of description. Some linguists will lump together tones and vowels/consonants as "...

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3 answers
7 votes
5k views
Are there any purely monosyllabic languages in use today?
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7 votes

The official Chinese language isn't "supposed to" be monosyllabic, at all. That's a misconception. Chinese languages are polysyllabic and that's it, including the putonghua standard (the pīnyīn ...

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5 answers
5 votes
3k views
Transform Chinese, Korean, Hebrew and Arabic to IPA
7 votes

IPA is a representation of sound; therefore "transforming to IPA" implies converting text to sound. That task is harder than it seems, because writing systems are underdetermined – they don't include ...

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6 answers
9 votes
4k views
Is there a voiced-unvoiced pair for R or L in any language?
7 votes

I'm sure there's a lot, but one example would be Icelandic. hlít /l̥iːt/ ‘throughly’ lít /liːt/ ‘I look; you look’ hraða /r̥aːða/ ‘to speed up’ raða /raːða/ ‘to put in order; to employ’ Of course, ...

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8 answers
9 votes
2k views
Is there any language where verb inflection takes place word-initially?
7 votes

The Tupi family of languages does person and number agreement with bound verbal prefixes. Major Tupian languages include Guaraní, spoken in Paraguay; Nheengatu, spoken by a minority of Amazonian ...

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2 answers
6 votes
403 views
Are English 'gay' and Norwegian 'gøy' cognates?
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6 votes

According to the Norske Akademis Ordbok, gøy is from English “gay”.

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2 answers
4 votes
325 views
Is a full stop a morpheme?
6 votes

Morphemes are sequences of phonemes that have meaning. A full stop or period doesn’t correspond to any sequence of phonemes; so it’s not a representation of a morpheme. It is however related to ...

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1 answers
-1 votes
61 views
What are all of the possible punctuation that are used within words in the majority of languages?
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5 votes

What you want to do is Unicode text segmentation. Look into the "Word Boundaries" section. If you can't understand it, read a Unicode manual first—Unicode's own book is free and easy to understand. ...

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3 answers
0 votes
233 views
Is a word form defined solely by its grapheme sequence? Can two lexemes have a shared word form?
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5 votes

First of all, words (and therefore word forms) are not made of graphemes. They're made of phonemes; either the kind of phoneme spoken as sound (as in English) or the kind of phoneme gestured with the ...

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1 answers
-1 votes
73 views
Politeness particles `krap`/`ka`
4 votes

According to the Thai wiktionary ขอรับ kráp is a shortening of ขอรับ kɔ̌ɔ-ráp "ask to serve" = "may I serve you?". Ká, however, is uncertain. I don't think there's a single equivalent to these ...

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2 answers
1 votes
72 views
Is there a formal term for when a word begins to be used in a broader sense than the original sense?
4 votes

As mentioned by @guifa, a commonly used term is semantic widening (as opposed to narrowing), dating to Arsène Darmesteter (1887) at least and also used by Leonardo Bloomfield, Stephen Ullman and many ...

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2 answers
1 votes
886 views
What does the tongue do to discriminate sibilant vs. non-sibilant?
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4 votes

In /s,z/ the sides of the tongue are slightly raised, creating an u-shaped channel or groove, known as sulcus. You probably already do that unconsciously when you say a Korean /s/ (unless you have a ...

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1 answers
1 votes
550 views
Are numerical digits logograms, ideograms or both?
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4 votes

I argue that numerals are true ideograms (or "semantograms", meaning-symbols). Ask yourself: what does the symbol '1' stand for in the following examples?: 1 apple 10 apples 100 apples 1st place "...

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1 answers
4 votes
524 views
Components that comprise a syllable
4 votes

According to Draga Zec in The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology, the older model of onset, rime, nucleus, coda— —was superseded by the mora model— —which can account for everything the notion of 'rime'...

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2 answers
2 votes
371 views
Idioms in Sign Languages
4 votes

For a non-ASL example as requested: I don't know the Brazilian sign language (Libras) at all, but it was easy to find articles claiming that yes, they have idioms distinct from Brazilian Portuguese. ...

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