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Q&A

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

87%
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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

85%
+10 −0
What is the origin of the missing "to be" in sentences like "the car needs washed"?

I grew up in western Pennsylvania (US), where constructs like "the car needs washed" are common. I was taught (yes, in schools in that region) that correct formal grammar requires "to be" in this ...

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

85%
+10 −0
Why was Spanish the only Romance language to lose the initial "F" in Latin words?

Going through the History of the Spanish language article in Wikipedia, I read the section Latin f- to Spanish h- to null some interesting insight: F was almost always initial in Latin words, an...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by fedorqui‭  ·  edited 2y ago by ArtOfCode‭

84%
+9 −0
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

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

83%
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Does Japanese have pronouns?

It is often said that Japanese doesn't really have a pronoun word class, such as in the Wikipedia article on Japanese Grammar: Although many grammars and textbooks mention pronouns (代名詞 daimeish...

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

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

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

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+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

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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

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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

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+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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+6 −0
Why does the dollar sign precede the number in English?

In English, at least in USA, people write $3 and mean three dollars (rather than dollars three), while other units are written after the number; no c99, h13, min22, '5, etc. to be seen. Why is it $...

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

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

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

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+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

80%
+6 −0
What sound did the letter ℵ encode in ancient Hebrew, and why did it morph into the greek vowel Α?

Here are two claims I've often heard or read: The Hebrew language originally did not write down vowels. The Greek (and subsequently the Latin) alphabet developed from the Hebrew alphabet....

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

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

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

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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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+5 −0
Should we use "por que" or "porque" in "las autoridades se sentían estafadas *por que* se escaparan"?

I read this sentence in a book ("La Guerra Civil española", by Paul Preston): La tortura explicaba el gran número de suicidios que se registraban en las cárceles, y las autoridades, que se sentí...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by fedorqui‭

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+5 −0
Why is the word here "HaNofelet" and not "HaNofalet" when there's a grammatical pause?

When reading this section of Amos on Saturday, something struck me about this verse (Amos 9:11): :בַּיּ֣וֹם הַה֔וּא אָקִ֛ים אֶת־סֻכַּ֥ת דָּוִ֖יד הַנֹּפֶ֑לֶת וְגָדַרְתִּ֣י אֶת־פִּרְצֵיהֶ֗ן וַהֲרִ...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Mithical‭  ·  edited 1y ago by msh210‭

77%
+5 −0
~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

77%
+5 −0
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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+5 −0
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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+5 −0
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

77%
+5 −0
What causes people to write compound words as distinct words?

In many Germanic and Finno-ugric languages there are many compound words. One does not write "yhdys sana", but rather "yhdyssana". Learning to write these correctly is notoriously hard for people, ...

0 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by tommi‭  ·  edited 1y ago by Moshi‭

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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+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

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+4 −0
Which phrase is correct? (Is using plural form for singular object make sense?) (Does using plural form for singular object make sense?)

Replying to the last edit (#4)... Since it language related site hence I am asking the question by creating new Q rather than commenting there. The earlier title was Is using plural form for sin...

3 answers  ·  posted 1y ago by deleted user  ·  edited 1y ago by deleted user

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+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

75%
+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

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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

75%
+7 −1
Order of pronouns

In an examination in my country (India) I had a multiple choice question on the order of pronouns. Q: Please try to remember when I, you and my wife were talking there. Options: A. you, I and ...

1 answer  ·  posted 2y ago by Severus Snape‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by Severus Snape‭

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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

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

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

75%
+7 −1
Etymology of "ohyra"?

I'm wondering about the origin of the Swedish word ohyra (vermin). Someone humorously suggested that this would be because vermin are unwanted guests not paying rent (hyra), though they had no sour...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Lundin‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by tommi‭

75%
+4 −0
Does al-Asma'i's poem "صوت صفير البلبل" (the sound of the whistle of the bulbul) has a story to tell?

There's this famous story about al-Asma'i الأصمعي challenging the caliph abu Ja'afar al-Mansur أبو جعفر المنصور by composing a poem that is difficult to memorize, as the caliph himself used to memo...

0 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by Medi1saif‭  ·  edited 2y ago by Medi1saif‭

75%
+4 −0
Why past tense in imaginative play in Finnish?

When playing house with a child, they say things like "Nyt se meni nukkumaan." when they mean that I should have the toy I am playing with go to bed. Similar use of the simple past / imperfect tens...

2 answers  ·  posted 2y ago by tommi‭  ·  last activity 2y ago by viäränlaenen‭

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

75%
+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

72%
+6 −1
'Caution' and 'cautious' with ʃ or ʒ?

I know some people pronounce caution with an /ʃ/ and others with a /ʒ/, and the same is true of cautious. I wonder if anyone can provide information on who says each (by region, time, etc.).

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

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