Questions relating to the scientific study of language.

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votes
1answer
28 views

Is YES/NO a definitive statement? [on hold]

I understand that we use YES / NO to convey our agreement or disagreement with the current statement. But does that signify our utter belief/disbelief in the context or does it merely represent our ...
0
votes
5answers
132 views

Which grammatical features does English lack, which it is expressively poorer for? [on hold]

Which grammatical features does English lack, which it is expressively poorer for? These could be features found in other languages – living, extinct or invented – or even be completely new ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

Much and not much

Why is it that much doesn't fit in many of the places not much does? Compare "Have you got any food in the house?" "Not much." "Would you like this old box?" "That's not much use to me." with ...
7
votes
1answer
820 views

Is the [ʊ] sound pronounced with lip rounding?

This [ʊ] sound is the vowel sound for words like hook, pull, and good. When I began to learn English a bit more seriously two decades ago, I used a book that taught me to pronounce it shorter and ...
2
votes
2answers
149 views

Are “I scream” and “Ice cream” homophones, or do we have another term here?

When two phrases are pronounced alike but have different spelling and meaning, can they be called homophones? e.g. "ice-cream" and "I scream", "nitrate" and "night rate", "that's tough" and "that ...
4
votes
2answers
257 views

Is there such a thing as an unvoiced vowel?

I can't think of any and google has not been helpful.
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Writing influences speech and viceversa? [migrated]

For example, language changes over time, but in languages that exist without writing, it changes naturally just influenced by itself. So when writing was introduced, did that start to influence speech ...
2
votes
3answers
96 views

Ambiguous transitive verb whose meaning is determined by its subject

I am looking for an example of a transitive verb with an ambiguous meaning that is determined by its subject. To explain what I mean, here is an example of a transitive verb whose meaning is ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

Two types of sound for letter L?

Consider two words, for example, lot and all. The phonetic symbol of l in the two words are the same, which makes me wonder why the sound of l in the first is considered to be the same as in the ...
8
votes
3answers
472 views

Which does English “l” and “r” sound come under, an allophone or different phonemes?

I was very much embarrassed when I was pointed out by ELU Senpai that I made a great mistake by misspelling ‘Mod election’ as ‘Mod erection’ during ELU chat. We Japanese often make a silly mistake of ...
6
votes
6answers
857 views

Why does the following phrase sound old fashioned?

"We went swimming later in the afternoon, Jack and I." I am trying to describe what is happening here by breaking the sentence down into it's basic components, but I am having difficulty doing this. ...
0
votes
1answer
107 views

Term for using “thingy-esque” phrases rather than a common word

{This question came to mind because of the recent question .. What do you call the interconnecting bits of a puzzle piece in English? } In my opinion, in English, it's reasonably common ...
1
vote
2answers
445 views

Subject-verb inversion / verb-subject-object — is this correct?

I recently read the following in a schoolbook: Wrote the researchers, "[...]" I wonder if this is correct English. I have seen it a couple of more times. Is this just a matter of preference? ...
16
votes
11answers
1k views

Language Gibberish

Sometimes, in humor (or an attempt thereof), people will make up gibberish in a certain language in an attempt to poke fun at a language or its speakers. Made-up French, German, Italian, Chinese, most ...
3
votes
1answer
103 views

Complements and adjuncts

Paul Austen’s novel sold immediately to the author’s eager readers. In the above sentence, which part is the complement and which is the adjunct? I am confused as to whether the adjunct should be ...
1
vote
3answers
107 views

Term for phonological elements of a dialect

A dialect encompasses various traits of a group, including vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation (phonology). Is there a common term specifically for the phonological elements of a dialect? I’d like ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

British upper-class pronunciation of words like “what” and “when”

More from the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. I've noticed in these sort of movies, when some very upper-class speakers talk, like the lawyer in the series, Mr. Tulkinghorn, they have ...
-1
votes
1answer
104 views

I've been betrayed by the Jedi Order, but I don't wish “for” them to all die [closed]

Does the presumably nonstandard construction "(verb) for someone/something to (verb)" instead of "(verb) (someone/something) to (verb)" have any currency in modern day colloquial AE speech and "not so ...
3
votes
1answer
176 views

How much of the English language comes from each of its influences?

I was watching a video linked in this answer and it made the following claim: [...] like most words in English is derived from German. That got me thinking. While I know that Germanic languages ...
4
votes
1answer
476 views

Flexibility of English: Always so?

The other day I read a question about nouns being used as verbs. An answer informed that in English any word can be used as a verb, but that it is not so in other languages. Beyond verbs, English is a ...
57
votes
5answers
12k views

If the letter J is only 400–500 years old, was there a J sound that preceded the design of the letter?

I understand that the letter "J" is relatively new — perhaps 400–500 years old. But since there has long been important names that begin with J, such as Jesus, Joshua, Justinian, etc., and which ...
2
votes
1answer
95 views

“None” and “Any” [closed]

Can anyone tell me more about the relationship between the words none and any I'm specifically interested in their grammatical overlap, when they share a similar grammatical function in a sentence, ...
1
vote
1answer
115 views

What does it mean that two languages are genetically unrelated? [closed]

I would like to know what does it mean that two languages are genetically unrelated? I have seen answer in this topic Genetic Relatives what does it mean that languages are genetically realted but ...
21
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the origin of the “-th” suffix? What is the linguistic term for the meaning it adds to words?

I was teaching my young nephew some math the other day, and from discussing the typical sort of word problems he's encountering in class, I noticed that the "-th" suffix adds a distinct meaning to ...
4
votes
1answer
244 views

A theory or concept related to language use by elite or the higher classes

I'm an English teacher, and I'm looking for a theoretical model that suggests language is used differently by different classes. I am aware of Bernstein's Elaborated code, which refers to an elite ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

Is there a maximum number of suffixes that can be added to an English word?

You can add various derivational and inflectional suffixes on to most English words to create new longer words (or forms of words). But is there a definite or theoretical maximum that can be added in ...
129
votes
9answers
18k views

Is there a word or phrase for the feeling you get after looking at a word for too long?

(Perhaps this only happens to me, but I doubt it.) Sometimes after looking at a word for a while, I become convinced that it can't possibly be spelled correctly. Even after looking it up, sounding ...
2
votes
1answer
108 views

What patterns will flash in the native-speaker's brain when using English? [closed]

I think it is a common puzzle for ESL,especially for Chinese,since English is more abstract than Chinese, using which we can feel some specific patterns flashing in our brain. For example, when I see ...
1
vote
1answer
93 views

How do you parse the sentence “He had Elizabeth read the letter aloud.”?

The Stanford parser gave the following output. I think the word "read" should be tagged with VBN (past participle). (ROOT (S (NP (PRP He)) (VP (VBD had) (S (NP (NNP ...
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votes
1answer
263 views

Swear words and fricatives/plosives [duplicate]

I've noticed that pretty much all swear words or profane language contains one or more fricatives, and sometimes plosives. Without listing words, if you can think of the first ten swear words that ...
0
votes
1answer
121 views

What is accidental metaplasm & metathesis across words? [duplicate]

What is accidental metaplasm & metathesis across words? Such as... grammar teacher --> trammar greacher Does this have a name?
19
votes
6answers
2k views

Is it true that iambic pentameter is “natural” to English? If so, why?

When I first read Dante's Divine Comedy in high school, I remember once being puzzled at what I thought were strained rhymes in the translation, and mentioned it to my English teacher. In reply, she ...
3
votes
2answers
233 views

What is the term in linguistics when a word comes to have a new meaning over time, e.g 'wicked' is commonly used to demonstrate this

I'm not sure what to add here. I think the title says it all. I just need to know and would like to try this service because I believe it's really useful.
3
votes
1answer
129 views

Term for changing a word to fit another word inside it

Ska does this all the time. The Skatalites Eskanol (spanish ska) Skatastrophic I can't seem to think of a single other example, but I know I've seen it other places.
5
votes
2answers
4k views

What's the difference between grammar and syntax?

I've never understood the difference between these two terms. I understand the difference between semantics and syntax, or between semantics and grammar, but I'm not sure what's the difference between ...
4
votes
1answer
469 views

What are words similar in spelling but differing in meaning called?

I frequently encounter "vs" words like: prodigal vs prodigious ingenuous vs ingenious affluent vs effluent These words are very similar but not identical in spelling, and have different meanings. ...
1
vote
2answers
132 views

Who is the authority — scientists, or linguists — on the definitions of everyday words referring to types of animals? [closed]

For instance, biologists these days like to say that the word "dinosaur" is inclusive of modern birds, since birds are descended from dinosaurs. This is consistant with biologists' tendency to ...
2
votes
2answers
247 views

Which of these phrases are equivalent, if any, and why

Some say the following two phrases are equivalent because of Raising (linguistics)! Example 1 He doesn't believe that bigfoot exists He believes that bigfoot doesn't exist Are those two ...
10
votes
4answers
52k views

What are “coherence” and “cohesion” in text linguistics?

I am still learning English. My English language professor has given me an assignment on coherence and cohesion. But it seems difficult to me. I've consulted my friend and he told me: Cohesion and ...
1
vote
0answers
34 views

Does there exist an EBNF-like description of English? [duplicate]

In programming, languages are often specified by what's called an EBNF grammar, a recursive way of specifying the language's structure. For example, all super simple arithmetic operations using the ...
2
votes
1answer
778 views

What are the degrees of synonymity?

In several questions and answers on this site I've read phrases that suggest there can be a scale of synonymity between words—something I haven't thought much about before. Some examples I've seen are ...
8
votes
1answer
212 views

What is it called when an antecedent noun follows the pronoun?

Here is the example that raised the question in my mind: He was splashing, enjoying the jungle's great joys, when Horton the elephant heard a small noise. Here, He refers to Horton; but one ...
7
votes
2answers
301 views

Are there names for consonant-shifts when suffixes are added?

I saw a spelling mistake on an SO question: submittion. That got me wondering, is there a name for the shift of ‑mit‑ to ‑miss‑ in submission, permission, admission and so on? Are there other patterns ...
10
votes
5answers
10k views

Where does “ta!” come from?

Where does the expression "ta" come from? Wikipedia has only this to say: "ta!", slang, Exclam. Thank you! {Informal}, an expression of gratitude but no additional information or links about ...
3
votes
3answers
916 views

Retroflex approximants in AE dialects

While looking up the best way to describe the aboriginal pronunciation of Uluru (/uluɻu/), I stumbled across retroflex approximants. The linked Wikipedia page states: The retroflex approximant ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Old English instead of Latin in early Britain

For almost 400 years, Britain was a Roman province. During that period, naturally, Latin was an important language in the region. When the Germanic tribes invaded the British Isles (around the 5th ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Good and bad - suppletive adjectives

In English, there are three suppletive adjectives: good, bad and far. Their comparative and superlative forms derive from different stems, i.e., we have best instead of *goodest, worse instead of ...
2
votes
0answers
384 views

Syntax, contrastive analysis [closed]

Could anyone help me with this question? What are the main types of contrast involved in contrastive analysis of syntax? Give examples. I tried to find answer, but unfortunately I find nothing.
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Are any of the t-glottolization, th-fronting, h-dropping, etc. in English a phonological complex?

Wikipedia gives the following, with plenty others ommitted by me, as some of the features of Cockney English: T-glottalisation: Use of the glottal stop as an allophone of /t/ in various ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

When and why did the letter “u” begin being called [ju]?

We pronounce the name of the twenty-first letter of the alphabet homophonically with the word you. Was this what the letter was always called (ever since the analogous letter in Latin), or did it at ...