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Questions tagged [language-evolution]

Questions about how English has changed.

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What are the purposes of language and literature in human society? [closed]

Is language a part of literature or literature a part of language? What separates language and literature?. Some professors I know say that language can express or do whateever literature can do.some ...
Jvlnarasimharao's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
120 views

When did the meaning of "to like" flip?

In Old English and Middle English the verb "to like" was more like our modern "to please" in that the pleased thing is the object rather than the subject, as in "Bread likes ...
smocc's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
1k views

Syndrome: older pronunciation?

Recently, I was reading The Kenneth Williams Diaries, and in one entry he records correcting some pronouncing syndrome (rhyming with aerodrome) to rhyming with epitome. I cannot find this ...
William Crawford's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

What is a term for the evolution of idioms through error?

At my place of work the idiom bottom-up (as in bottom-up design) is often used and debated as a way of doing things. However over the last year or so it's increasingly being expressed as bottoms-up ...
Air's user avatar
  • 111
3 votes
1 answer
256 views

Did English phrasal verbs evolve from the same ancestors as German verbs with separable prefixes?

It seems as if many Germanic aspects of the English language exist in their full-fledged forms in German and in vestigial forms in English. I wonder whether phrasal verbs in English are somewhat like ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
496 views

Are the words Bank (money) and Bank (river) related? [closed]

In one of our class discussions about the origins of the word Bank (Money), a guy guessed that maybe it comes from the Bank (the land alongside a river) since the sand gets deposited there, as an ...
Sai Deepak's user avatar
24 votes
2 answers
3k views

When did they shift from apostrophizing the past tense to using an "e"?

I'm reading some Shakespeare and noticing past tense verbs are written as deceiv'd and search'd etc rather than the modern deceived and searched. When did the shift take place in English to the modern ...
temporary_user_name's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
70 views

"Only the time can/will tell" : a rare variant of "Only time can/will tell"?

In this video on the aftermath of the first launch of SpaceX Starship, at "6m27s" can be heard this apparently unusual sentence: "Only the time can tell."; personally, I've never ...
LPH's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
318 views

What is the history of the word 'wherry,' and why is it virtually unknown today?

The boats crossing the Thames before all the bridges were built in the late 1700s were called wherries. Wiktionary; however, says the term wherry is much older: From Middle English whery (“small boat”...
WendyG's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
68 views

Use case and meaning of “lest” in sentences [duplicate]

What is the exact meaning of lest? Oxford Learner's defines it: "in order to prevent something from happening", and its Origin is "Old English thȳ lǣs the ‘whereby less that’, later the ...
Abhishek Yadav's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
783 views

Cardinal numbers in dates when speaking

I understand that in speaking (if we are talking strictly about formal rules) it is more common to use ordinal numbers and not cardinal numbers. However, it has come to my attention that people these ...
meepyer's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is "luggage" becoming a countable noun?

When I learned English, I learned that "luggage" an uncountable noun, meaning the collection of all your bags and suitcases (and/or their contents). From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/...
Thomas's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
85 views

An extension of the term 'anthropomorphism' to 'cultural anthropomorphism', or is there a better term?

We are perhaps familiar with the definition of 'anthropomorphism' as the assignment of human characteristics and culture to animals, or perhaps to gods. Something that is happening more and more in ...
Justin Thyme the Second's user avatar
3 votes
3 answers
354 views

Legitimacy of the word "imput"

I see Merriam Webster defines "imput" as a "variant of input" but no other dictionaries have entries (unless you count the Urban Dictionary's "The usual idiotic misspelling of ...
Adam Katz's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
423 views

Does English have a sister language other than Scots and Frisian?

Like I said in the title, I am aware that Scots is a sister language of Modern English. I am also aware that Frisian diverged from west Germanic, making it and it's modern variants sister languages, ...
Aaron Speedy's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
713 views

Same words interpreted as different meanings in different languages [closed]

https://www.ethnologue.com/guides/how-many-languages Is it possible that there are so many languages in the world, the written words can be same in more than one language having different meanings? In ...
Prashant Akerkar's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
82 views

Is "prolongation of nasalization" ocurring in English?

I am wondering if the same phenomenon occurs in English, as described here in Spanish: https://spanish.stackexchange.com/q/37916/11155. Q: Why did the Latin coemeterium change into cementerio* in ...
Honza Zidek's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
236 views

Why did "species" take over the singular?

As far as I know, it is very rare to have a noun in English that is both singular and plural and ends with "s". But "species" is such a noun, and I was surprised to learn that it ...
user21820's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
100 views

Merger of Early Modern English 'ir' with 'ur' and 'er'+'ear'

Before /r/, /ɪ/ merged with either /ʊ/ or /ɛ/, depending on context. After labials (plus clusters of labials and /l/) and alveolar stops (like in bird and dirt), the result was /ʊ/ (shown, among other ...
JMRD's user avatar
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41 votes
3 answers
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Why "Giraffe" as a name for the animal?

My question is based on my interest in the evolution of the Giraffe's name. Etymology Online Dictionary puts the following: Giraffe: long-necked ruminant animal of Africa, 1590s, giraffa(...)The ...
Tom O' Bedlam's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
215 views

Did the meaning of fair change? [closed]

I have been reading a bunch of fiction books, such as the Lord of the Rings series and similar. They are definitely modern books, but use a literary language and constructs to give a bit of historical ...
Paul92's user avatar
  • 182
0 votes
3 answers
141 views

Can "brain" be used as a verb [closed]

tv commercial for a brain supplement asks, "Would you like to brain better?"
Ronald Johnson's user avatar
-4 votes
1 answer
59 views

Why do we "test" pupils on "rules" of English when English has no legal standards board? [closed]

English is a fluid language. So, of course, we want to teach kids to write, but what's the point of grading them on it? Absent a board of standard dictated by law as exists for some other languages, ...
MAXdB's user avatar
  • 55
-2 votes
1 answer
96 views

Usage of "mailing list" in corporate language

The Cambridge Dictionary defines mailing list as: a list of names and addresses kept by an organization so that it can send information and advertisements to the people on the list An example ...
Edgar Derby's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
127 views

Irrealis “were” following “as if”

Is the subjunctive “were” in the sentence, “He seems as if he were spell-bound,” construed as counterfactual? Does it always preclude truth, or does it only here suggest that it was highly improbable ...
David Marlowe's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
1k views

How many English words are of native origin?

What percentage of current English words are of native Anglo-Saxon origin? I have seen stats about how large percentages of the English words currently in use come from French, Latin, or German ...
EmaJ's user avatar
  • 31
6 votes
2 answers
384 views

What part of speech is 'almost' in "these tiny flowers transform into pulp-filled pods almost the size of rugby balls"?

Now, before I get jumped on because almost is always an adverb, please allow me to explain. If almost is an adverb, which it most definitely is (I checked several dictionaries and it is only listed ...
Ubu English's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
3k views

How did English gradually change into an analytic language?

English might be the most analytic language in the IE family, in that it has no case, no gender, and very few personal pronouns. Since PIE and other IE languages are generally synthetic, then what ...
shinotakatoshi's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Synonym of Dream Interpreter

Is there any single word synonym from "Dream Interpreter" or the person who tells the meaning of the dream?
Zeshan Sajid's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
297 views

Present Participle versus Gerund

I was taught that the Present Continuous is formed using the Gerund, but that you call it the Present Participle. Even though these two forms look exactly alike in English, in other languages they do ...
Dale Erwin's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

Noun form of "aver"?

It is common in legal writing to aver, meaning to allege, assert, or affirm a fact. (Latin root is adver.) But I can't find any evidence that the obvious noun form of the word, aversion, has ever ...
feetwet's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
2k views

Correct word useage

English is my native tongue, yet I am often confused by word usage in the language. An example of this would be the difference between "clothing" and "clothes" used as nouns. For example, a store ...
Clyda's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
45 views

Have any English words been turned foreign only to be then used again in English in an altered state? [duplicate]

What are some examples of English words that got taken into use in a foreign language in a changed state, and then subsequently re-entered the English language in state B or even state C.
Dr. Shmuel's user avatar
29 votes
4 answers
9k views

Country names ending in "-ia"

Many countries have "land" as a suffix, like England, Poland, Switzerland, etc., which means 'the land of the English', 'the land of the Swiss', etc. Many other countries have "stan&...
asmgx's user avatar
  • 769
5 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is the word 'the' unnecessary in the English language?

Measuring the frequency of words in almost every English book or document (which is long enough) ends up ranking the word 'the' as the most used word. Is there any solid function the word 'the' plays ...
Sreram's user avatar
  • 213
2 votes
1 answer
960 views

Two-word verbs described with One-word nouns

I've noticed that certain (compound?) verbs are combined into one word when the process is used as a noun. It seems to generally be processes with a preposition in them. If the noun isn't combined ...
MikeOShay's user avatar
  • 121
3 votes
3 answers
548 views

The use of the word "moot" as a noun

First I want to be clear, I'm from the Westminster system, we use the British English in my country of origin, and so I have had a hard time with adapting to American English usage in both writing and ...
Peta Long's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
410 views

What does a predator feel when spotting its prey?

Many basic and everyday emotions have an origin that is somehow comprehensible from an evolutionary perspective, i.e. regarding situations which they originally were related to and originated from: ...
Hans-Peter Stricker's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
68 views

Is written English becoming more and more simplifed?

I'm not sure if I have anything to base this on, other than a simple hunch. My general feeling towards written English, especially journalistic English, is that it is becoming simpler and simpler. ...
Mou某's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
641 views

Is there a semantic difference between "need not contain" and "do not need to contain"?

This question already outlines what the syntactic differences between "need not" and "do not need to" are. However, a discussion unfolded below this answer about the following quote from this ...
iFreilicht's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Do any English synonyms have exactly the same meaning? [duplicate]

Air and breeze are termed as synonyms but they do not mean the same thing. Air is a general term while breeze would actually mean a cool flowing air. Do we actually have exact synonyms for nouns in ...
Shiyam Hoda's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
990 views

Metaphors that appeal to more than one of the senses (hearing, seeing, smell, etc.) at a given time?

I'm curious about the origin of using descriptors of one sense (e.g. sight) in order to describe a different sense (e.g. touch). (Please note that humans have more than five senses, as this may affect ...
Hanna's user avatar
  • 89
3 votes
2 answers
139 views

Is "learning", used as a noun, Denglish?

The English term "learning" is being used as a noun in German language, describing the process of learning something about a specific topic. ("Das Learning war, kein Wasser ins brennende Fett zu ...
jbxbergdev's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
92 views

Question word usage

According to the Reading Teachers Book of Lists, of the 100 most popular (used most often) spoken words in American English, the question word "what"(there are six question words that are commonly ...
Zan700's user avatar
  • 3,376
1 vote
1 answer
548 views

As of late 2016, is "config" considered to be a word in proper English?

As of late 2016, is config considered to be a word in proper English, as opposed to a slang shorthand (verbal and written)? The reason it may be is that it is used all the time, particularly in ...
Panzercrisis's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
168 views

What’s the terminology in linguistics for the evolution of “space ship” to “spaceship”?

Is there a term in linguistics for the evolution of a word like “space ship” to “spaceship”? There’s an answer on this site which says: Here is a rule I read related to evolution of compound words. ...
Rinzwind's user avatar
  • 465
1 vote
2 answers
3k views

Wrong English and right English [closed]

I am doing Masters in English Literature, In one of the books I read that there is nothing like 'Wrong English', there are so many dialects in the wrold that each type of English is correct English. ...
Just_another_developer's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
3k views

"You are kindly asked to..." Is this new or just plain wrong?

I often hear or see things like "You are kindly asked to put your dishes in the dishwasher, not on top of it." To me this sounds incredibly clumsy and wrong, as though someone has translated it ...
RedSonja's user avatar
  • 1,083
3 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is the word "App" evolving? [closed]

This is something that really gets my goat; a couple of years ago, the word "App", to the majority of people, meant "Applet" or 'small, simple, mobile application', i.e. software ...
n00dles's user avatar
  • 165
4 votes
1 answer
830 views

Divergence of usage of Present Perfect tense in English from that of other European languages

I am a native English speaker who generally only thinks about tenses in relation to the foreign languages I attempt to speak. I am neither grammarian nor linguist. So it only recently struck me that ...
David's user avatar
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