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Q&A

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

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80%
+6 −0
Vowel insertion phenomenon

When I, maybe Br.E speaker, pronounce adverbs ending '-bly' I find myself occasionally inserting an extra vowel. So I say feeble-y, noble-y but I 'correctly' say 'nim-bly' and 'lim-ply' (I've plac...

1 answer  ·  posted 3mo ago by pureferret ‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

75%
+4 −0
Has the word "humor" shifted meaning?

The original meaning of humor of course refers to the obsolete theory of the four humors and their effect on human temperament. I'm not asking about that. It appears that initially, the meaning sh...

2 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by matthewsnyder‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

60%
+1 −0
Is "pervalue" an antonym of "devalue"?

Devalue is commonly used to mean diminish value. Seems like the prefix re- is sometimes used with opposite effect to de-, as in reinforce meaning to increase force or refried meaning more fried. ...

0 answers  ·  posted 5mo ago by matthewsnyder‭

77%
+5 −0
"Lock" and "close" in German

I was trying to explain to someone that my door can only be opened with a key, regardless of whether the door is locked or simply closed. I figured schließen would fail to express that unambiguous...

1 answer  ·  posted 6mo ago by nteodosio‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by samcarter‭

81%
+7 −0
Does humor always spring from surprise?

It seems like a lot of humor has an element of surprise. Sudden meanings, unexpected turns of the plot, language unexpected given the context (impolite language in polite context, technical in a no...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by matthewsnyder‭  ·  last activity 3mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

83%
+8 −0
How did "listen to" TV become "watch"?

It seems that people used to say "listen to" and "hear" television, a holdover from radio, and that that gave way to "watch" and "see" over time. Has anyone any information on the timeline of this ...

0 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by msh210‭  ·  edited 8mo ago by msh210‭

77%
+5 −0
What is "nift"?

Everyone knows what "nifty" is. It's obvious, isn't it? A thing which possesses nift. But what is this mysterious nift? Looking at things that are considered nifty, I cannot quite come up with a g...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by matthewsnyder‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

42%
+1 −2
How can I un-translate these humourous 'translations' Windows terms, from Bengali? [closed]

Here's the image of the humourous 'translations', and my wife has helped me 'untranslate' some of them, but we're stuck on some: Bill Gates has released Windows in a Bengali version called JAN...

0 answers  ·  posted 7mo ago by pureferret ‭  ·  closed 7mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

81%
+7 −0
What's a "road colony"?

Lawrence Sanders, Caper, 1980. 1987 paperback edition, page 61: We saw crumbling walls, decayed ceilings, cracked plumbing fixtures, exposed electrical wiring. We saw one room that appeared to h...

1 answer  ·  posted 5mo ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 5mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

81%
+7 −0
What is the term for a word that is an instance of itself?

Some words are examples of the concept they name. Examples: "Word" is a word. "Noun" is a noun. "Eggcorn" is an eggcorn (a mistaken word that sounds like and has some connection to another wor...

2 answers  ·  posted 8mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  edited 6mo ago by Moshi‭

75%
+4 −0
How does phonology-orthography correspondence affect second language acquisition?

One difficulty I’ve seen in learning languages is matching orthography to pronunciation - especially vowels. English has several distinct sounds that a native speaker will describe as the vowel ‘e...

0 answers  ·  posted 2mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

75%
+4 −0
Why do some people say "idea-r", "draw-r-ing" and "china-r"?

English speakers from certain areas, in particular British, seem to add an extra r sound after vowels. For example: Idea -> idea-r Drawing -> draw-r-ing China -> China-r What is th...

1 answer  ·  posted 9mo ago by matthewsnyder‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

75%
+4 −0
Effectiveness of input-only learning

While learning a language, there are a surprising (to me at least) number of people who say that you should never output until fluent - that is, as long as you get enough input, you will eventually...

2 answers  ·  posted 9mo ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 8mo ago by matthewsnyder‭

77%
+5 −0
What grammatical category does "Weihnachten" fall into?

The German word "Weihnachten" (Christmas) is an odd one. It's a neuter noun (das Weihnachten) even though it's based on a feminine one (die Nacht, night). The traditional Christmas greetings, "Froh...

1 answer  ·  posted 2mo ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 2mo ago by gmcgath‭

60%
+1 −0
Two reads of "murremestari"

In this quiz on Yle's website I met the nice word "murremestari": https://yle.fi/a/74-20058169 Obviously this means one who masters dialects, but in that meaning I pronounce it as "murremmestari"....

0 answers  ·  posted 3mo ago by tommi‭  ·  edited 3mo ago by tommi‭

75%
+4 −0
Is there a freely available sentence patterns search engine?

As the title says. Background I often find myself in the need of building an English sentence that I almost know how to get right. The scaffolding is there, but there are maybe one or two words ...

1 answer  ·  posted 7mo ago by Lorenzo Donati‭  ·  last activity 6mo ago by Lundin‭

40%
+0 −1
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 1y ago by user11QQ‭

75%
+4 −0
How do linguists identify the origins of verbal habits that originate from other languages?

When an observed verbal habit has more than one potential source, and that source is likely to be a different language or dialect, how do linguists determine the most likely origin? For example, i...

0 answers  ·  posted 4mo ago by Eric Isaac‭  ·  edited 4mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

37%
+1 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 1y 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 1y ago by General Sebast1an‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

25%
+1 −7
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)". How do these notions in these nouns relate to each oth...

1 answer  ·  posted 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y 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 1y ago by General Sebast1an‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by General Sebast1an‭

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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y 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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

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 1y ago by tommi‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Lundin‭

83%
+8 −0
Why do Chinese people say "idear"?

In my experience of speaking with immigrants from China to the United States, it seems many of them pronounce the word idea with a final ɹ (even before a consonant). Why?

2 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by msh210‭  ·  last activity 4mo ago by Eric Isaac‭

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 1y ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

85%
+10 −0
How to refer to a whole family in Icelandic?

Hi. I'm learning Icelandic and planning to visit the country a few months later. But there is a thing I can't figure out yet. For clarity, in majority of English speaking families there is just on...

1 answer  ·  posted 9mo ago by aminabzz‭  ·  last activity 9mo ago by Jirka Hanika‭

77%
+5 −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 1y ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

33%
+0 −2
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 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

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 2y ago by deleted user

28%
+0 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

78%
+9 −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 1y ago by gmcgath‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Keelan‭

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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

28%
+0 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭

80%
+6 −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 1y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

37%
+1 −3
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

85%
+10 −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 1y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Jirka Hanika‭

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 2y ago by deleted user  ·  last activity 2y ago by deleted user

81%
+7 −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 1y ago by Moshi‭

83%
+8 −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...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by r~~‭  ·  last activity 7mo ago by Lorenzo Donati‭

40%
+2 −4
How's inVEST semantically related to VEST? How did the "idea of dressing your capital up in different clothes" arise?

Isn't "the idea of dressing one’s capital up in different clothes by putting it into a particular business, stock, etc" batty? This semantic relationship would never cross the mind of an amateur re...

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

66%
+2 −0
How did "bail" shift to signify "money deposited as a guarantee when released"?

I fail to understand this etymology for bail (n.1), particularly the first paragraph. [3.] "bond money, security given to obtain the release of a prisoner," late 15c., a sense that apparently de...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Ullallulloo‭

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 1y ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Quasímodo‭

25%
+0 −4
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 1y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 1y ago by PSTH‭

33%
+0 −2
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 2y ago by PSTH‭  ·  edited 2y ago by PSTH‭

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 1y ago by Moshi‭  ·  last activity 1y ago by Jirka Hanika‭