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Questions tagged [language-evolution]

Questions about how English has changed.

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0answers
45 views

Usage of the word “utter” or “utterly” for something non-cow related— anyone know the etymology? [closed]

What is the etymology of the word "utter" or "utterly" as a descriptive term for someone or something, as opposed to it's use as a noun referring to a cow's breast?
3
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1answer
64 views

Synonym of Dream Interpreter

Is there any single word synonym from "Dream Interpreter" or the person who tells the meaning of the dream?
16
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2answers
1k 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 ...
1
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0answers
438 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 ...
0
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0answers
40 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.
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0answers
44 views

Limitations on the creation and use of contractions

I want to start by warning anyone reading this that I am searching for a serious answer to a stupid question. I don't know if there is an answer or not, but I truly am after serious thought. My ...
25
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1answer
3k views

“-ia” in country names

Many countries have "land" in the end of it. like England, Poland, Switzerland, etc. which means the land of the English, the land of the Swiss, etc. Many other countries have "stan" in the end of it ...
5
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3answers
735 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 ...
1
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0answers
64 views

Has “how are you?” changed to “hope you are well?” [closed]

As I don't live where there are many native speakers of English I only noticed this evening that the expression "hope you are well." has become common. Is it true? If so, it sounds like "how are you?" ...
2
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1answer
58 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 ...
3
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3answers
290 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 ...
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0answers
93 views

Why did the average length of American English words appear to settle in the end of the 18th century?

I am reading a paper signed by V.V. Bochkarev, A.V. Shevlyakova and V.D. Solovyev, titled Average word length dynamics as indicator of cultural changes in society. In it, the authors explore the ...
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1answer
117 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: ...
1
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0answers
47 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. ...
2
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1answer
311 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 ...
3
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1answer
844 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 ...
2
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1answer
415 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 ...
3
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2answers
106 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 ...
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1answer
85 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 ...
1
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1answer
176 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 ...
1
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1answer
114 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. ...
1
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2answers
2k 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. ...
0
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2answers
1k 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 ...
3
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4answers
354 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 coded specifically ...
4
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1answer
523 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 ...
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0answers
38 views

When did “two and thirty” construction fall out of common usage? [duplicate]

In "The Red-Headed League", one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, a character named Jabez Wilson remarks, "It was a pretty expensive joke for them, for it cost them two and thirty ...
2
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1answer
74 views

What happened to the superlative? [closed]

For some time now I'm hearing more and more people saying "that's one of the more interesting things I've seen", "that's one of his better dishes", etc. Even when talking about something very close ...
0
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1answer
132 views

What is the future for the Word *“Womyn”*? [closed]

The Word "womyn" has an interesting and debated history. It has become ever more pertinent since it's creation. My question is: Does "womyn" have a future?
9
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1answer
214 views

When did it become okay to drop “years old” when speaking about a living thing?

It's perfectly normal and common to say that a person "is 20," or "is 47," or any other age, and it's implicitly understood that we're talking about age. This works with animals, too. But you can't ...
0
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1answer
214 views

What does the term sophistry mean today? [closed]

Does the term sophistry as it is used today demand intentional deception or does it also include well-crafted arguments based on faulty assumptions or the use of flawed reasoning? I just glanced at ...
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1answer
132 views

is newspeak in close proximity to the present trend? [closed]

I can't think of a way to question the use of the phrase "close proximity" without expressing an opinion or asking for one (and that applies both to the specific case of this phrase and wider ...
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2answers
605 views

Why 'Germanic Languages' and 'Germanic Tribes'?

I've never been a fan of the word 'Germanic' and it's use to cover all Northern European (except the so-called 'Celtic Fringe') Tribes due to it's overtly political connotations. Can anyone tell me ...
2
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3answers
4k views

Is “sh*te” a swear word?

So I was watching The Simpsons just before, the episode being "Fraudcast News". At the end of the episode many Springfield residents follow in Lisa's footsteps and start to print their own newspapers. ...
0
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2answers
80 views

What is the term for following a number, ie: ten (10) with the numeric version for clarity

I see this a fair bit in journal papers, and wanted to know if there is a specific reason and/or term for this: having the spelled/lexical version of a number followed by the literal/logical ...
55
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22answers
11k views

Are there any “fake” French words used in English?

Are there any "fake" French words used in English? By "fake French" I mean words that are of French origin but are not actually correct French. This could happen if the word changes as it becomes ...
3
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1answer
384 views

Evolution of the words

Some years ago, swag, or swagger would mean to boast. Now it has a totally different approach- awesomeness, "coolness", or just slang for greatness. Same with graze- going from eating grass ...
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2answers
5k views

What is the etymology of the term “Cockpit”?

I have always been intrigued by the word cockpit and have wondered where it originated. I have heard that it originated in the times of cock fights; is this true? If it is, how did the word evolve ...
2
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2answers
70 views

What, if anything, would cause a common word's official spelling to change? (e.g. “have”) Can this still happen today?

As we know, spelling and pronunciation change over time. However, it's hard to imagine any normal, common words having a shift in their spelling in our lifetimes. The issue was brought to mind for me ...
7
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1answer
231 views

Is “which” a preposition? Because because

Backstory: Back in 2013 the American Dialect Society appointed because Word of the Year. People had begun using a new syntax: noun-phrases and adjectives could now follow because. In response Geoffrey ...
19
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3answers
2k views

Why “No smoking” works but “Yes smoking” doesn't?

No smoking is a formula used to indicate smoking is not allowed. Why can't we use Yes smoking to indicate smoking is allowed? (Although, we might use humorously but I've never heard actually.) ...
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1answer
60 views

what's “disruption” globally mean today? [closed]

The word "disruption" doesn't have the same meaning, also totally different when used in business context. Someone can help define it better? Thanks
5
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1answer
236 views

How are computers affecting spelling and usage? [closed]

Has spell check changed usage? I type the word "theatre" often; even here while I am typing it is underlined in red, yet Americans who direct, produce, or act in theatre prefer the older spelling. ...
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4answers
43k views

Dressing gown vs housecoat

As far as I can tell they refer to the same thing (bathrobe). I'd like to know the roots of both, and if possible the history of their evolution. Specifically if the usage is influenced by social ...
1
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1answer
248 views

Do english accents in England have both germanic and celtic influences?

I'm curious about the accents from England about whether its more Germanic or more Celtic because since English come from the Angles,who were Germanic,the accents has to have more Germanic phonetic ...
9
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2answers
262 views

Do reflexive verbs often evolve into intransitive usage?

With the relatively recent proliferation in the number and variety of genders that our contemporaries willingly proclaim themselves to be or belong to, a new intransitive sense of the verb identify, ...
3
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1answer
506 views

Did English “borrow” or “inherit” from Proto-Germanic (PGmc)? [closed]

I wanted to see a cage match on this question, which started in the comments to this answer. We were left with these opposing assertions: PGmc was never homogeneous. Most English expressions "...
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1answer
2k views

Wi-Fi, WiFi, wi-fi, wifi [duplicate]

Shame the previous thread on this was closed. A lot of my work entails getting stuff right and being able to justify it but like many on this previous thread How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi? ...
3
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1answer
1k views

What is the history of “partner” being used to refer to boyfriend–girlfriend relationships?

In North America (especially Canada and the United States), the word partner is more and more commonly used to describe someone who would otherwise traditionally have been called a boyfriend or a ...
0
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1answer
4k views

lie awake or stay awake? [closed]

Soon, we will lie awake to talking and laughing until the sunrise Soon, we will stay awake for talking and laughing until sunrise
1
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1answer
617 views

Imparted vs Imputed

so I am a bit confused by the meaning of the two words: imparted and imputed. I know impart means to give or to communicate something. Impute means to ascribe. However, I dont know how can i ...