Questions tagged [language-evolution]

Questions about how English has changed.

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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 ...
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5 votes
0 answers
240 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/...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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2 votes
3 answers
163 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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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, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
85 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 ...
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2 votes
0 answers
65 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
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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 ...
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38 votes
3 answers
8k views

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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
123 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 ...
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3 answers
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Can "brain" be used as a verb [closed]

tv commercial for a brain supplement asks, "Would you like to brain better?"
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-4 votes
1 answer
56 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, ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
513 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
250 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 ...
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5 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Synonym of Dream Interpreter

Is there any single word synonym from "Dream Interpreter" or the person who tells the meaning of the dream?
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2 votes
2 answers
197 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 ...
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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 ...
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1 vote
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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 ...
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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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29 votes
3 answers
7k 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&...
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5 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
587 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 ...
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3 votes
3 answers
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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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1 vote
1 answer
255 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: ...
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1 vote
0 answers
61 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. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
575 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
867 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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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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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-1 votes
1 answer
88 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
395 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
152 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. ...
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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. ...
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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 ...
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3 votes
4 answers
934 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 ...
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4 votes
1 answer
727 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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1 vote
0 answers
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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 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
108 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 ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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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?
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9 votes
1 answer
245 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 ...
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1 vote
1 answer
279 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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-7 votes
1 answer
173 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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-2 votes
2 answers
696 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 ...
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2 votes
3 answers
8k 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. ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
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58 votes
22 answers
13k 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 ...
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