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Q&A

General Q&A about specific languages, language in general, and linguistics.

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What semantic notions underlie "gasket" with "little gird, maidservant"?

I see that Etymonline warns of gasket's uncertain origin, but I still pine to understand this possible etymology. I know little about sailing, and Wikipedia annunciates: gaskets are lengths of r...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2y ago by PSTH‭

72%
+6 −1
What is the difference between 'u heeft' and 'u hebt'?

When conjugating 'hebben' I can see both forms, are they the same, or is only one of them correct? Is there a regional difference between the two?

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Peter‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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+0 −2
What semantic notions underlie 'privity' with 'privity of contract'?

The OED 3 ed, June 2007 defines b. privity of contract n. the limitation of a contractual relationship to the two parties making the contract, which prevents any action at law by an interested...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Moshi‭

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How did 'equity' semantically shift to mean 'Assets — Liabilities'?

I ask about Equity = Assets — Liabilities here, not its meaning as stock. See Personal Finance For Canadians For Dummies (2018), p 468. equity: In the real-estate world, this term refers to the...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

62%
+3 −1
Etymology of "son of a gun"

What's the origin of the expression "son of a gun"? This comic explains a possible origin: British Navy used to allow women on naval ships, and any child born on board who had uncertain paternity ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by hkotsubo‭  ·  edited 2y ago by hkotsubo‭

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What does "se" mean in Micah 6:8, "Ya se te ha declarado..."?

What is the purpose of "se" in the following text from Micah 6:8 (Nueva Versión Internacional)? ¡Ya se te ha declarado lo que es bueno! Ya se te ha dicho lo que de ti espera el Señor It doesn't s...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Nathaniel‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by DonielF‭

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Are there any examples of neopronouns for non-binary or third gender people being fully incorporated into a language's grammar?

Many non-binary people now request that new third person pronouns (neopronouns) be used to refer to them, for example xe or ze. These have not been widely used by English speakers yet, but it's sti...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by curiousdannii‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Conrado‭

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+2 −0
Why are kinship terms typical examples of inalienablity but not meronomy?

According to Chappell &amp; McGregor (1996: 4) there are four typical types of inalienably possessed nouns: spatial relationships such as the ’top’ or ’front’ of something physical parts, espec...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by curiousdannii‭  ·  edited 2y ago by curiousdannii‭

72%
+6 −1
What drives the complexity of a language?

Looking at English, its complexity seems to have been in constant decrease. For example, in the past, there were conjugations and a separate informal form of “you” (”thou”); all in all, the languag...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by celtschk‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

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~ません versus ~ないです

As far as my knowledge of Japanese goes, there are two ways to form polite negative forms of verbs, the direct conjugation ~ません and the plain negative conjugation ~ない with です added. Take for insta...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Moshi‭

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Why is the ـً in "شُكْرًا" and others pronounced?

Why is the -an in "شُكْرًا" (shukran) pronounced? I've heard it pronounced this way in Modern Standard Arabic and in colloquial. In both, I'd usually expect the -an to not be pronounced, especiall...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by user53100‭  ·  edited 2y ago by user53100‭

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+3 −0
Why do certain Hebrew letters have alternate final forms?

Five Hebrew letters -- כ‎, מ‎, נ‎, צ‎, and פ‎ -- have different forms when at the end of a word. I have heard that this is true for certain letters in Arabic too, though I don't know if they're th...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Moshi‭

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+3 −1
How did 'the better to —' semantically shift to mean 'So as to — better'?

I screenshot Collins and Lexico. Let's treat this like a math problem. How exactly does "the better to —" = 'So as to — better'? Please show all steps between these two expressions.

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
Is Swedish more conservative than Danish and Norwegians?

I have read somewhere that Swedish is more conservative than the other continental North Germanic languages, Norwegian and Danish. Clearly Icelandic is more conservative then these all. But is the ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

80%
+6 −0
Why are there different suffixes for people of different countries in English?

I never thought about it too much until now, but in Hebrew, the only suffix, if I'm not mistaken, to refer to a person from a country is to add the letter Yod to the end of the name of the country ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Moshi‭

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+4 −0
What does "unused root" mean?

Often when I search for the origins and meanings of certain words in Tanach, I'll come across something like Strong's saying that it's from or probably from an "unused root". For example: What e...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Harel13‭  ·  edited 2y ago by msh210‭

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Is "estar de buenas" a widespread way to say "to be in a good mood"?

Recently I read in Breaking Out of Beginner's Spanish that the phrase "estar de buenas" is a common way to say something like "to be in a good mood." I've found a bit of evidence of this online in...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Nathaniel‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by fedorqui‭

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+4 −0
Why no "to"-infinitive in pual and huf'al?

One of the infinitives in Hebrew is translated "to [verb]" and starts with ל, l. For example, ללמוד, lilmod, "to learn", and להשאר, l'hishaer, "to remain"; it's used often. But two of the verb cons...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

66%
+2 −0
Icelandic patronymic pronunciation

I find the pronunciation of Icelandic highly regular and predictable on the whole, but male patronymics continue to puzzle me. The suffix "-son" is consistently pronounced with an initial /ʃ/ rath...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Lundin‭

71%
+3 −0
What is the Thai word for plurally numerical answer expectancy?

I know that in Thai language, if someone asks a numeric question and expects an answer which is plurally numerical (two or more objects), it is common to add some special word to the question. I wo...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by deleted user  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

80%
+6 −0
Using adjectives that are related to taste for describing emotions

You might have seen that most of the adjectives that are related to taste are used to describe emotions. It is very common. Salty, sour, sweet, bitter etc. We use these adjectives to describe peopl...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Melancholy‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

80%
+6 −0
What is the origin (etymology) of the word مسدس (pistol)?

In Arabic the word مُسَدَّس refers to pistol when an arm is meant (see here on wikipedia). But it also refers to a hexagon (see here on wikipedia) -also سداسي أضلاع or سداسي- as it is a description...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Medi1saif‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Moshi‭

80%
+6 −0
Why is linguistics limited in how much it can look back in time?

I've often seen that "we can only look back in time a short distance in linguistics". What prevents linguistics from deducing information far in the past? Is this limit something that can be pushed...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by user53100‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

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+3 −3
What is "these gentry" in Marxist writing?

In George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language", he refers to "[t]he jargon peculiar to Marxist writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad d...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

75%
+4 −0
Has Japanese always had the polite "masu" form?

Japanese has what is known as the "polite form"/"masu form" and the "plain form". Notably, the two forms have completely different conjugations despite having the same meaning, differing only in po...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

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+4 −0
How do linguists determine historical pronunciation?

There were two recent questions (here and here) about historical pronunications. I know that languages evolve in sound over time, but how do linguists determine what the original phonology was seve...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Sigma‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Moshi‭

66%
+2 −0
Primary clause uses singular, subordinate co-reference is plural, what verb to use in English?

I sometimes find myself writing sentences with subordinate clauses where there is number mismatch between the primary and subordinate clauses. For example: The oath he swore, those words about se...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Moshi‭

70%
+5 −1
Why is “timbre” pronounced “tamber”?

One thing that’s always bothered me about the musical term timbre is its pronunciation. The word begs to be pronounced “timber,” yet it’s widely pronounced “tamber” instead. I understand the etymol...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

71%
+3 −0
How do Chinese people give their names in Japanese? (And vice versa)

So, I have a Chinese name. (Specifically, Mandarin, if that makes a difference). What are the common ways to give this name in Japanese? Should I approximate the Chinese reading, use the on'yomi re...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Aidan‭

66%
+2 −0
Structures like "skulle gjort" and "skulle gjøre"

I have mostly self-learned Norwegian without much emphasis on grammar. Occasionally I see expressions like "skulle gjort", sometimes with "gjort" replaced by another verb. I would expect to see the...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Lundin‭

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+3 −0
Which spelling -if any- of ar-Rahmaan is more correct "الرحمن" or "الرحمان"?

The noun ar-Rahmaan and its adjective rahmaan are pronounced with a prolongation of the letter alif between the last two letters meem and noon, nevertheless it is common that people with the name '...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Medi1saif‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by nobodyImportant‭

78%
+9 −1
Does English support three-word contractions?

In English certain pairs words can be contracted with an apostrophe, such as "I've" (I have). I don't know if there are strong rules for which words can be combined in this way and which can't. I...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by shpielmeister‭

66%
+2 −0
How do I pronounce historical French correctly from times when the language was in transition?

I sing in a choir that performs medieval and renaissance music in several languages I don't otherwise speak. When we are unclear about pronunciation, we look for recordings from reputable performe...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by user8078‭

77%
+5 −0
What is the Arabic "praise/censure grammar" (e.g. !ياله من رجل رائع) called in Arabic?

I'm trying to edit this question at Chinese Stack Exchange: Does Chinese have an equivalent to Arabic-style praising grammar (translates to 褒贬句)?. The user originally wrote: In Arabic we have a ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by becky82‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Medi1saif‭

75%
+4 −0
Is it really true that all Chinese words have one syllable?

I'm sure a lot of people have heard it before: the statement "All Chinese words are one syllable (or character)." And because someone is going to ask, no, this is not just a Western thought - my Ma...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Sigma‭

62%
+3 −1
When do you use 'whom'?

I have two basic questions about the usage of 'whom': When and how do you use the word 'whom'? Can I just... not? Even after looking it up, I'm confused. I've never found an example given where r...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

80%
+10 −1
Why is it "pronunciation" and not "pronounciation"?

Generally speaking, when adding a suffix to a word in English, while the last letter(s) may undergo changes to accommodate the addition, the rest of the word is left unchanged. As examples in that ...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by DonielF‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by nobodyImportant‭

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+5 −0
Is there a difference between when I should use "אוטו" vs "רכב"?

I speak Hebrew as a second language, and probably worse than most people expect - I live in Israel, but my Hebrew is still not that great. I ride with a cycling team, and one thing that we do is to...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mithical‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by deleted user

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+4 −0
How were ת & ט pronounced historically?

In Sephardi or Israeli Hebrew today, ט and ת are pronounced the same, at least to my non-native ear, something like /t/. In Ashkenazi Hebrew, on the other hand, sometimes ת is pronounced like ס (...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by msh210‭

60%
+1 −0
What determines the present-tense form of a kal verb?

Most פָּעַל-construction verbs have the פּוֹעֵל form as the masculine singular present tense; for example, לָמַד→‎לוֹמֵד and צָבַע→‎צוֹבֵעַ. But some פָּעַל-construction verbs have the פָּעֵל form ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Monica Cellio‭

87%
+12 −0
Whence אֶת between partners' names?

The word אֶת /et/ is used with the following meanings: In Biblical Hebrew, it means "with". In modern Hebrew it survives, but only with a complement-of-the-preposition pronoun suffix: "with me", ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by David‭

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