60 votes
Accepted

Is English really a non-tonal language?

Sorry is still the word sorry no matter your intonation, though it may have different meanings in context. In a tonal language, say Mandarin Chinese, it would be an entirely different written form ...
DW256's user avatar
  • 8,705
52 votes

Is English really a non-tonal language?

You seem to be confusing intonation with tonality. English definitely has intonation (pretty much all natural languages do), but it is not a tonal language. Tonal languages use tonality for either ...
Austin Hemmelgarn's user avatar
51 votes
Accepted

Etymology of "fairy"

According to Wiktionary, Galician, Catalan and Occitan have a word fada "fairy" and Italian has fata with the same meaning, which seems like a clear confirmation of a Vulgar Latin form *fata meaning "...
herisson's user avatar
  • 81.6k
39 votes

A word for "using two words next to each other that mean the same thing"?

The word you want is pleonasm: Pleonasm (/ˈpliːənæzəm/; from Greek πλεονασμός (pleonasmós), from πλέον (pleon), meaning "more, too much") is the use of more words or parts of words than are ...
Tushar Raj's user avatar
26 votes

Doesn't English have vowel harmony?

English doesn't have vowel harmony. "Vowel harmony" refers to situations where there is some process that changes vowels to be in the same class as other vowels in the word, and/or there is a ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 81.6k
26 votes
Accepted

Word for heavily foreign-influenced speech?

For the language phenomenon where the English language is heavily influenced by another language, a portmanteau term combined from the name of two languages is used. In your specific example, it is ...
ermanen's user avatar
  • 62.7k
24 votes

Removal of a repeated syllable for ease of pronunciation

Wikipedia says: Haplology (from Greek ἁπλόος haplóos "simple" and λόγος lógos, "speech") is defined as the elimination of a syllable when two identical or similar syllables occur ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 58.8k
22 votes

A word for "using two words next to each other that mean the same thing"?

Tautology - Unnecessary repetition, usually in close proximity, of the same word, phrase, idea, argument, etc. The saying of the same thing twice in different words generally considered to be a fault ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 17.9k
18 votes

Explanation and rules for adding and subtracting 'r's in British pronunciation?

Rhotic English is a term to describes varieties of English in which orthographic R is usually pronounced, even at the end of a syllable. In non-rhotic varieties of English - such as Southern Standard ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

Do laypersons understand medical terms?

Translation is a difficult task. Cultures are different, situations are different, histories are different. English is interesting because it has a mixed heritage for many medical terms. For many ...
Mitch's user avatar
  • 71.2k
14 votes

What do you call it when you "extend" a word?

Perhaps you mean the process of attaching suffixes and/or prefixes to a root word to make a whole family of related words, like hand, handy, handiness, unhand, unhanded, and so on. The name for that ...
EditingFrank's user avatar
  • 1,879
14 votes

Has the conception of prepositions broadened?

This broadened conception of a preposition has a long history, but its recent popularity is thanks to its appearance in Huddleston & Pullum's The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002). ...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 17.5k
13 votes
Accepted

What is the English term for "unwittingly misspelling words based on their pronunciation?"

Consider phonetic spelling. Phonetic spelling constitutes an alteration of ordinary spelling that better represents the spoken language, that employs only characters of the regular alphabet, and ...
Lawrence's user avatar
  • 38.5k
12 votes
Accepted

Word meaning "its meaning stands alone"

Other answers seem to have overlooked the fact that you are requesting a term from linguistics. I don't think axiomatic is what you're after. I believe the term you are looking for is categorematic. ...
DyingIsFun's user avatar
  • 17.9k
11 votes

What is it called when one person calls another something they metaphorically resemble?

Your first three examples are of terms of endearment. The fourth is simply a description, rather than a name, although "Solid" alone could be used as a nickname, based on physical characteristics. ...
KrisW's user avatar
  • 1,999
9 votes

What's the current scholarly opinion on the "minims" explanation for the spelling of "love", "tongue," etc?

One of the most valuable resources I've found is Bullokar. He wrote a lot about English grammar (1586), and even invented an orthography. Additionally, he had experience with both hand-written and ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 66.1k
9 votes
Accepted

Inserting meaningless phrase in sentences

It is an example of a filler phrase, in this case a parenthetical filler phrase since it is located in the middle of a sentence. Perhaps the most infamous filler in BrE is innit (isn't it?): "I'm ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 9,410
9 votes
Accepted

Is there a word for when a word changes from a noun to a verb?

Anthimeria: Using one part of speech as another part of speech, such as using a noun as if it were a verb: From Wikipedia In rhetoric, anthimeria, traditionally and more properly called ...
mahmud k pukayoor's user avatar
9 votes

What is the English term for "unwittingly misspelling words based on their pronunciation?"

I'm not sure if it will work perfectly, but you might be able to use phoneticise. phoneticize verb to represent speech in writing using a system in which individual symbols reflect speech ...
Dog Lover's user avatar
  • 6,445
9 votes
Accepted

What is it called when one person calls another something they metaphorically resemble?

When a person is given a name corresponding to an attribute of that person, or a thing is named by something closely associated with it, it's called "metonymy." Only the last of your examples seems to ...
Philip Antin's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

What is the word for the fusing of, for example, "-ed" and the final consonant "d" to give the ending (with voice removed) of "bent"?

Short answer (tl;dr): According to the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (Huddleston & Pullum 2002; pp. 1601—1602) the two processes involved are simply: devoicing of the suffix (d→t) ...
Araucaria - Him's user avatar
8 votes

I am [who/whom] G-d made me

If I could choose neither, I would, since I'm not sure if the sentence is grammatical (I have asked a separate question about that here: Is "I am who(m) God made me" grammatical?). If I had ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 81.6k
8 votes
Accepted

Any English terms for ‘to change the part of speech (of a word) without applying modification’?

The word is 'conversion'. The word was part of the required metalanguage for an English language class I undertook. The OED gives the definition relevant to the usage as: Grammar. The use of one ...
JDF's user avatar
  • 1,062
8 votes

Do laypersons understand medical terms?

People with some knowledge of classical languages such as Greek and Latin can usually work out what those terms mean. For example 'rhin' refers to the the nose and 'tachy' means speedy. Biologists ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
8 votes

Origin of stating indirect object by sentence structure and no pronoun

The relation between She gave the car to Bill. and She gave Bill the car. is a well-known phenomenon called The Dative Alternation. Both sentences are grammatical, and they mean the same thing. ...
John Lawler's user avatar
7 votes

Explanation and rules for adding and subtracting 'r's in British pronunciation?

Whether or not 'r' sounds that don't precede a vowel are pronounced is called 'rhoticity'. Some dialects (Most of those from England, Australia, and New Zealand for instance) are non-rhotic and only ...
smithkm's user avatar
  • 2,268
7 votes
Accepted

Why is it half and not second?

I suppose because, in the everyday speech of ordinary people, the use of half long predated the other fractions. This is the earliest entry in the OED, from the year 835. Charter in Old Eng. ...
WS2's user avatar
  • 64.6k
7 votes
Accepted

Why is the L silent in "walk" but not in "bulk"?

Based on the pairs chalk, bald and chalk, milk, the identity of both the consonant following the L and the vowel preceding the L could affect whether the L was lost. I'm not certain why, but my guess ...
herisson's user avatar
  • 81.6k

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