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Q&A

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

18%
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What semantic notions underlie fūrunculus (Latin for 'petty thief') 🡺 furuncle?

Wiktionary doesn't expound how furuncle ("1 cm tender red papule or fluctuant nodule") is a "transferred sense" from "pilferer (petty thief)". I see no relationship between these two notions. Why ...

1 answer  ·  posted 18d ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 5d ago by dsr‭

77%
+5 −0
Why is the third person singular conjugation different in the past tense?

Generally speaking, German verbs inflect with the following table Person Inflection Example ich -e sage, arbeite du -(e)st sagst, arbeitest er/sie/es -(e)t sagt, a...

1 answer  ·  posted 18d ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 6d ago by Jirka Hanika‭

60%
+1 −0
When would a sentence consist of "terdiri" with "atas" or "dari"?

The Indonesian word "terdiri" meaning "consist/s (of)" is an interesting word as it uses two words along with it: "atas" ("on/top/above") and "dari" ("from" / "than" in some cases). Every time I en...

1 answer  ·  posted 2mo ago by General Sebast1an‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

40%
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The use of the past simple and the past perfect in these scenarios

1 -- Are you a member of GE? -- No, I was a member for 9 years. I think Correct 2 -- Are you a member of GE? -- No, I had been a member for 9 years. I think WRONG 3 -- Are you a member of ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by user11QQ‭

77%
+5 −0
Plural agreement with a syntactically singular subject

Many quantity words trigger agreement with their object rather than themselves. For instance, syntactically, "a lot, "a bunch", "an amount" seem to all be singular. However, as a native speaker, "T...

1 answer  ·  posted 3mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

18%
+0 −7
How did rǣda work syntactically, after shifting from 'advise' to mean 'interpret and understand the meaning of written symbols'?

Old English rǣda semantically shifted from ‘advise, consult, guess’ to mean ‘interpret, interpret letters, read’. But isn't this semantic shift unsyntactical and infelicitous? Advisor's writin...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭

25%
+0 −4
What semantic notions underlie 'anger, agitation' (PIE *ǵʰéysd-) 🡺 'ghost'?

On October 31 2016, Kevin Stroud wrote The connection between “ghost” and “guest/host” is mentioned on page 303 of ‘The Horse, The Wheel and Language” by David W. Anthony [quoted on English Stac...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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What semantic notions underlie 'to advise, counsel, guess' (rǣda) 🡺 'peruse' (read)?

How did ‘advise, consult, guess’ semantically shift 🢂 to signify ‘interpret, interpret letters, read’? How do they semantically appertain? read [OE] In most western European languages, the wor...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

42%
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What does Etymonline mean by 'to raise (someone) out of trouble'?

I have never heard of "to raise (someone) out of trouble"! What does this mean? relieve (v.) [on Etymonline] late 14c., releven, "alleviate (pain, etc.) wholly or partly, mitigate; afford comfo...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

37%
+1 −3
What semantic notions underlie 'con-' + 'sign' 🡺 with "deliver or transmit (goods) for sale or custody"?

How did con- + sign semantically shift 🡲 to this modern sense in Commerce? Why did con- + sign shift so radically, but NOT 'sign'? In Modern English, "sign" alone doesn't possess this Comm...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 5mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did 'rendre' semantically shift from meaning 'give back' to 🡺 1. 'make, cause to be' 🡲 2. 'represent, depict'?

What semantic notions underlie "give back" with 🢂 "make[,] or cause to be in a certain state"? 🡪 "represent, depict"? render (v.) [on Etymonline] late 14c., rendren, rendre, "repe...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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If assūmptiō = 'take up', then can ad- (prefix) = 'up'? But why, when super- = 'up'?

Are these definitions correct? Even though p. 262 below (bottom scan) doesn't list "take up" as a meaning of assūmptiō? (13th, from Latin assūmptiō, the act of taking up, from Latin assūmere...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
What semantic notions underlie "inmost, innermost" (intimus) 🡲 with "make known, announce" (intimo)?

How did intimus "inmost, innermost, deepest" (adj.) semantically shift to 🡺 intimare "make known, announce, impress" ? These meanings are polar opposites! If something is inmost, then it's private...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

80%
+6 −0
When does "me-" go on verbs?

So I started learning Indonesian through a Duolingo course for 2 weeks now, and I've gotten to the "Me- Verbs" part as I'm writing this question. I have already learned a few verbs from past lesso...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by General Sebast1an‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by General Sebast1an‭

37%
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Isn't lībra pondō circumlocutory? Because both lībra and pondō meant "weight"?

Isn't lībra pondō redundant? It feels pleonastic and tautological — because both lībra and pondō meant "weight" — see below. Wikipedia translates lībra pondō as "("the weight measured in libr...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did commeātus semantically shift from meaning "passage" 🢂 to "leave of absence"?

What semantic notions underlie meaning 1 ("The act of coming and going") 🡺 with 5 ("Leave of absence)? Please fill in the gaps, and show the steps, between meanings 1-4 and 5? The Oxford Latin Dict...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭

25%
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How did in- + partire compound to mean "communicate as knowledge of information" (impart)?

What semantic notions underlie in- + partire 🡺 with "communicate as knowledge or information"? This semantic shift flummoxes me, because in- + partire "was not originally restricted to immaterial ...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by PSTH‭

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What semantic notions underlie “to exchange” (PIE *meyth₂-) 🢂 “to give, bestow” 🡺 “to let go, send” (Proto-Italic *meitō)?

Wiktionary asservates May be for *mītō (with lengthening of the consonant; compare mitāt), from Proto-Italic *meitō, from Proto-Indo-European *meyth₂- (“to exchange”), an extension of the root...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did "dispose" semantically shift from meaning "put apart" 🡺 to "transfer title to property"?

What semantic notions underlie "put apart" 🡺 "a transfer of title to property"? This semantic shift addles me. Why? Because "put apart" feels casual and laid-back! In modern English, "put apart" r...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
Demise — How did "dismiss, put away" semantically shift to mean 🡲 a transfer of property, or the grant of a lease?

What semantic notions underlie "dismiss, put away" (desmetre) 🢂 with transferring property or granting a lease (demise)? This semantic shift befuddles me, because — Humans "dismiss, put away"...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
How did mittō (to send) semantically shift 🢂 in Vulgar Latin 🡺 to mean "put"?

Wiktionary allegates that, for the Latin mittō (“to send”), The semantic shift from "send" to "put" probably occurred in Vulgar Latin. What semantic notions underlie "send" and "put"? I can'...

0 answers  ·  posted 6mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

77%
+5 −0
Possessive vs accusative case for nominalized clauses

Consider the following sentences: "She was against his joining the team." "She was against his joining of the team." "She was against him joining the team." Instinctively, the first just so...

0 answers  ·  posted 7mo ago by Moshi‭

80%
+6 −0
Is obrigado used in case of unclear gender of the author?

In Portuguese a male speaker thanks with an «obrigado», while a female with an «obrigada». I am reading a text (some thank you notice for buying some mass-produced industrial product with no obvio...

1 answer  ·  posted 7mo ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by Quasímodo‭

76%
+8 −1
Why does German use the third person plural for the second person polite?

German has three sets of pronouns for the second person: the familiar singular (du), the familiar plural (ihr), and the polite singular or plural (Sie). The polite form is identical with the third ...

2 answers  ·  posted 7mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by Keelan‭

83%
+8 −0
Why "me too" and not "I too"?

I've been studying German lately, and came across something that sparked my curiosity: The way to say "me too" in German is "ich auch" - that is, "I too". A shallow glance at other Germanic languag...

1 answer  ·  posted 7mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 7mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

77%
+5 −0
Has there ever been a situation of perfect bilingualism, without falling in diglossia?

In many places around the world there are different languages that coexist: some people speak one, some the other, and many can speak both. There are as many cases as situations: some of the langu...

0 answers  ·  posted 7mo ago by fedorqui‭  ·  edited 7mo ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
Why is "djinn" the plural of "djinni"?

Most reliable sources say that the Arabic-derived "djinni" is a singular word and its plural is "djinn." (Or "jinni" and "jinn," if you prefer.) The dropping of a final letter or syllable to plural...

1 answer  ·  posted 8mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 8mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

80%
+6 −0
Where, here, and there: What is the origin, and can it be generalized?

I recently stumbled upon this wikipedia page and it got me thinking. Take a look at the following table (terms are lifted from the Wikipedia page) W (interrogative) H (proximal) T (medial)...

0 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
English dialects and he/she versus it

In normed Finnish language hän (he/she) refers to people, while se (it) refers to non-people. However, in spoken language, at least in many dialects, se is used also for people. (Both hän and se ar...

2 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by tommi‭  ·  edited 8mo ago by Lundin‭

66%
+2 −0
What is ทำดีได้อย่าเด่นจะเป็นภัย in Thai?

What is ทำดีได้อย่าเด่นจะเป็นภัย in Thai? I find the structure of this sentence a bit odd. If I break it down: ทำ ดี ได้ This means "Doing good order" (the action of doing good in some contex...

0 answers  ·  posted 10mo ago by deleted user

81%
+7 −0
Calling another by name when one is exasperated

In my English-speaking culture, when two people are in conversation, usually we don't bother addressing each other by name—or even by any substitutive term of address, like ‘sir’/‘ma'am’ (formal) o...

1 answer  ·  posted 10mo ago by r~~‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

37%
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Why did linguists impute Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task" 🡺 to PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"?

What semantic notions underlie Proto-Italic *moini-, *moinos- "duty, obligation, task," 🢂 with PIE root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move"? How do they semantically appertain each other? I quote from...

0 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did prae + scribere semantically shift from meaning "write before" ⟶ "a title or right acquired through long use or uninterrupted possession"?

I grok that prae- + scribere ⟶ praescribere literally meant write before. But what semantic notions underlie write before with a title or right acquired through long use or uninterrupted possession...

0 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 11mo ago by PSTH‭

71%
+3 −0
What does the letter do ৡ in Bangla?

There are 14 অ বর্গীয় (O borgiyo) letters in Bengali. But couldn't find out in book what they are. I know that there are 11 vowel letters in Bengali. But while looking for অ বর্গীয়, I just found th...

1 answer  ·  posted 11mo ago by deleted user  ·  last activity 11mo ago by deleted user

28%
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How does 'contango' semantically appertain to (1) 'continue'? (2) Or 'contain' as in Spanish 'contengo'?

I know that in Spanish, contengo is the first person singular conjugation of contener "to contain". I surmise that English transcribed the Spanish /e/ into an "a". Etymonline 1853, "charge made...

0 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 9mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did 'in' + 'as' + 'much' (⟶ inasmuch) compound to mean "in an equal or like degree"?

I quote the OED 's etymology for the adverb inasmuch. originally 3 words in as much (in northern Middle English in als mikel), subsequently sometimes written as 2 words, in asmuch, and now (espe...

0 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 11mo ago by PSTH‭

28%
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How did (the cross-linguistic univerbation) 'nothing/not/none/no + less' semantically shift to mean 'despite'?

Several West European languages, most spoken in 2022, feature cognate adverbs with the meaning of ''nevertheless' by univerbating "nothing/not/none/no" +"less". What semantic notions underlie...

0 answers  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 11mo ago by PSTH‭

33%
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How did 'ad-' + 'rogare' compound to mean 'to make great claims about oneself'?

What does the prefix ad- semantically mean here? How did the compounding of ad- + rogare yield 'to make great claims about oneself' and "to claim for oneself, assume"? What semantic n...

1 answer  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 11mo ago by dsr‭

25%
+0 −4
How can fulsome constitute "a case of ironic understatement"?

Pretend that you're Devil's Advocate. 1. How can you possibly contend that fulsome is "a case of ironic understatement"? What's ironic? What's fulsome understating? "fulsome" feels r...

1 answer  ·  posted 11mo ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 7mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

75%
+4 −0
Why did the Tironian et survive in Irish, when it died out everywhere else?

The Tironian et was a scribal abbreviation for the Latin word et; it was used for centuries across Europe, but finally died out and was replaced with &amp; in almost all languages. The exception wa...

1 answer  ·  posted 12mo ago by TRiG‭  ·  last activity 12mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

84%
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Why did the letter K survive in Latin, though it was rarely used?

In classical Latin, the letter C is pronounced like K. Hardly any words use the latter K; even imports from Greek turned kappa into C. A handful of words, such as "kalendae," held onto their K. In...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 11mo ago by Moshi‭

60%
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What's the difference between "in doing so" and "by doing so"?

As the title mentioned, what's the difference between these two terms? The question has troubled me for some time. Hope somebody can answer me. Thanks!

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by sinneddennis‭  ·  last activity 8mo ago by gmcgath‭

33%
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What semantic notions underlie "pull, drag" (in tractō) 🡒 "negotiate, bargain" (in 'treat')?

Etymonline below blazons the sense of "negotiate, bargain" in treat. Please see the green line for the sense of "pull, drag" from tractō. I added the red lines beside 8(b) and 9, because these sen...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by PSTH‭

33%
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What semantic notions underlie vērum's 2 superficially unrelated senses — "truly" vs. 'but; yet; however'?

How did the adverb vērum semantically shift from "truly" to mean 'but, yet, however'? These 2 senses look completely unrelated to me! Oxford Latin Dictionary (2012 2 ed), pp 2254-5.

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

50%
+1 −1
Modern English words originating in Norman

Where should I learn about words that came into Modern English most likely from Norman? Please example some words which most likely came to Modern English only from Norman (i.e. words which are li...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by deleted user  ·  last activity 1y ago by dsr‭

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+1 −1
Why did linguists choose 'Patient' (noun) to denote this Thematic Role?

        THEMES and PATIENTS are rather similar, and not all linguists distinguish between these roles. A THEME typically moves from one location or one person to another, like the letter in (31...

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

75%
+4 −0
Why is the word "maniac" considered such a strong insult in Hebrew?

When I first moved to Israel, one of the first things I was warned about was using the word "maniac". As an American, this is considered a very minor insult - minor enough for little kids to use wi...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by Mithical‭

80%
+6 −0
Swedish verbs with the meaning of mixing

I do a research on Swedish verbs with the meaning of mixing something. I struggle with some of words. There are two words 'blanda' and 'röra' which are usually used with prepositions, like 'om', 'i...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by Supermiledi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Lundin‭

33%
+0 −2
Why does the Latin prefix 'in-' also mean the English 'to', when Latin 'ad-' already means 'to'?

I quote Etymonline on impute (v.): early 15c., from Old French imputer, emputer (14c.) and directly from Latin imputare "to reckon, make account of, charge, ascribe," from assimilated form of ...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

50%
+1 −1
How does taking, buying, procuring (emō) semantically appertain to destruction, annihilation (perimō)?

As you can read below, emō meant to take, buy, gain, procure. But perimō meant to destroy and annihilate. Plainly, their meanings differ! So why was perimō formed from emō and compounded with per-?...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by PSTH‭

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