Tagged Questions

Questions relating to the scientific study of language.

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4
votes
2answers
1k views

Analysis (tree diagram) of “She hugged and kissed her mother”

I was wondering how linguists analyze sentences like "She hugged and kissed her mother" or "Will you have that with or without syrup?" or "Four and five are the square roots of sixteen and ...
3
votes
3answers
190 views

“Enormity” in figurative sense

The word enormity is widely used to mean excess of size, but if somebody talks about the enormity of his achievements he would look foolish. Why is that so? Does it depend on the tone used, or are ...
3
votes
0answers
240 views

Visually and audibly unambiguous subset of the Latin alphabet? [closed]

Imagine you give someone a card with the code "5SBDO0" on it. In some fonts, the letter "S" is difficult to visually distinguish from the number five, (as with number zero and letter "O"). Reading ...
4
votes
4answers
491 views

Alternative Descriptive Statement - Calling something like it really is; both intentionally/unintentionally funny

I'm curious to know if there is a type of speech or name for what I am about to describe... For example, instead of saying "let's go on a night hike," one would say, "let's go stumble around in the ...
2
votes
2answers
215 views

What's the linguistics term for “Schubertiaden” and similar words? [closed]

What's the linguistics term for "Schubertiaden" and similar words (that refers to a group of people based on a person's name)?  "Schubertiaden" refers to the group of people of similar interest and ...
13
votes
5answers
442 views

Regarding the “i” in “think” vs “bit”

This is a phonetics question. I am teaching English as a Second Language. In phonetics, we all know the "i" in "think" is a "short i" sound. Additionally, the "i" in "bit" is a "short i" sound. ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Why did “insofar” become a word, not “insofaras”?

So I'm thinking about how "insofar" became a word. This slightly unfair comparison shows that it happened relatively recently. Now, whenever I've seen it written, "insofar" is followed by "as". So ...
1
vote
4answers
232 views

Text vs. audio representations of words

"Word" This can refer to at least three things: A textual representation of a _ A sonic representation of _ _ , the superconcept containing 1 & 2. What are specific...words for each of these ...
10
votes
4answers
60k 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
479 views

Why we say “save file” and not “keep/preserve file”

Why do we say save the file/image instead of keep/preserve the file/image? Is it because the original meaning was to save (rescue) the object from being lost?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Etymology of “binky” — three questions

Definition 2 of binky at wiktionary is "(rabbit behavior) A high hop that a rabbit may perform when happy." This definition is consistent with that at rabbitspeak, and not inconsistent with "A kind ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

Origin of “you lot” and other plural forms of “you”

I've often heard the phrase "you lot" in British programs on PBS, e.g. "Oi! You lot! Shift y'selves" or thereabouts, and have sometimes wondered about its origin and how it gained currency. It seems ...
1
vote
1answer
817 views

Differences between Case Frames and Semantic role labeling

I'm learning about some basic linguistics theory and have come across case frame analysis and semantic role labeling as methods of determining agents within sentences, and arguments for verbs. ...
8
votes
1answer
233 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
3answers
2k views

What makes a non-native English speaker sound foreign? [closed]

I'm not a native speaker. However, I have tried a lot during last 10 years to learn English at a high level of proficiency and to become fluent in conversation. However, when I talk to some of my ...
5
votes
3answers
739 views

Adjectives that do not have predicative position

I've read somewhere that some adjectives cannot be used in the predicative position; for example "this is a major problem" is acceptable, but "the problem is major" is not acceptable. I'm wondering ...
4
votes
2answers
480 views

Is it possible to regard “vacant” and “vacancy” as allomorphs (variants) of the same root in Modern English?

Am I right to consider /΄veikənt/ and /΄veikəns/ in those words as variants of one and the same root morpheme in Modern English. But it makes me hesitate in my morphemic division if we take for ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

Exactly what language do I (we) speak?

As an American, and a particularly myopic one, I am a bit confused to the language that I speak. I understand that we were once a colony of England, where English was/is spoken, but do we in the ...
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 ...
5
votes
3answers
780 views

Linguistics term for word choice

I was taught a word once by a linguist. I can't remember it, but it would be very useful for a Google search I am trying to do to solve another question on a different StackExchange. It was a similar ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

If someone is an expert in written (rather than spoken) language, can they still be called a “linguist”?

When I think of “linguistics”, I typically think of the study of spoken languages, particularly phonetics. Compared to “language”, which of course is used of writing systems, ...
9
votes
3answers
430 views

Is spell-checking software becoming a linguistic authority?

It seems that‒whether intentionally or not‒spell-checking software in web browsers and productivity suites heavily influence our use of language. For example: in drafting a document, I found that my ...
11
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there a term for switching syllables of words?

Primary question: A common speaking mistake is to exchange syllables of words, saying "It's trace rhyme!" instead of saying "It's race time!", or pronouncing "kickin' chackatory" instead of "chicken ...
6
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the name of the phoneme produced in an upper-class Briton's pronunciation of the word “Duke”? What's different in the articulation?

When someone with a Received Pronunciation accent pronounces the word duke, as in The Duke of York, he doesn't pronounce it with a "hard" 'd', as one might pronounce the word duh, but a softer type ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Has English adopted any common morphemes from languages that are not Greek, Latin, or French?

Has English adopted any common morphemes from any "exotic"-type languages? By that, I'm trying to exclude our most frequent borrowings; i.e. French, Latin, and Greek, from which nearly all our ...
1
vote
2answers
790 views

Is there a known reason that English has so many short words?

Anyone who has played scrabble-like games in English and other languages cannot help but notice that English has an extremely high number of two and three-letter words. Is there a known ...
7
votes
4answers
564 views

Are there any indications that English is going to split into different languages in the next hundred years? [closed]

Are there any indications that (global) English is going to split into different languages in the next hundred years?
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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Was what happened to the pronunciation of the word “church”, as compared to the Scots-English “kirk”, a general phenomenon in Middle English?

The other day, I was reading a history of the Norman and Angevin kings, and came across the word kirk in an ecclesiastical context, which I had to look up, having no clue of its meaning. The Online ...
15
votes
3answers
758 views

Are there sounds where the tongue is not symmetrical?

Are there sounds in English languages and accents where the tongue does not move symmetrically in the mouth, i.e. the right side of the tongue is not moving like the left side?
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the history of h-dropping in English in any way related to the silent h of French?

I was reading up on Richard the III, and his exploits just now in Wikipedia — as is the nature of Wiki, that further me led to stumble to Stafford, Duke of Buckingham's page, where I learned ...
4
votes
1answer
166 views

Why is the state of being resident “residence”, but the state of being president “presiden-cy”?

Resident : Residence seems like the normal pairing to me. Residency isn't exactly unknown (see here), but it's far less common. But with President the derivatives are reversed and then some. ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

How do you proceed from pronouncing “t” in the regular way to t-glottalization, as found in various English accents?

It's just strange to me because "t" is pronounced with the front teeth, while the glottalized "t" is produced with the back of the throat; that seems like quite a noticeable journey that couldn't have ...
3
votes
2answers
11k views

Semi-vowels in English [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is “Y” a vowel? Why are 'w' and 'y' called semi-vowels in English?
2
votes
1answer
816 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 ...
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
717 views

Syntax for marking incorrect examples of language

I have noticed various marks in example sentences to denote incorrect examples of English: This is correct. *This incorrectly. The former is left alone; the latter has an asterisk marking ...
7
votes
3answers
871 views

Why do we say 'commentator' instead of 'commenter'?

Another thread addresses the Englishness of the words. My question is different and a lot more convoluted: I hope I can make it plain and simple. I. There are straightforward nouns of action and ...
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 ...
4
votes
3answers
439 views

Is there a name for the kind of sounds commonly found in profanities?

Fuck. Shit. Bitch. Cunt. I remember reading somewhere -- a very long time ago -- that these "hard" sounds are virtually necessary in profanities. The explanation I roughly remember is that because ...
29
votes
3answers
40k views

Meaning of “native speaker of English”

Who is considered a native speaker of English? I am a little confused by the various answers found online.
8
votes
3answers
273 views

Verbs of inaction

It seems to me that most English verbs always convey some action. That is, no words (to my knowledge) convey that absence of an action. Let me explain. Let's assume that I wanted to say that a certain ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Is there a term for “*cough*<something>*cough*”?

What I mean is the act of "coughing" something that you don't actually want to (or rather dare) say outright. So instead of writing, say, "Miss Parker", you'd write "*cough*Ms Parker*cough*" or fake ...
15
votes
4answers
2k views

English questions and negation with *do* in syntax

A former lecturer of mine once explained why, from a syntactic point of view, the English rule that negation and questions are formed with the auxiliary do follows from other syntactic facts about ...
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 ...
135
votes
9answers
21k 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 ...