Children who grow up learning English, for example, all learn in the same sequence: "birdie go" (the bird has gone), "doggie jump" (the dog is jumping), then "-ing" around 3 years of age ("doggie jumping"), then irregular past tense ("birdies went") and "is" ("daddy is big"). Then, lastly they learn the regular past tense verbs ("doggie jumped") and present tense verbs in the third person ("Daddy eats"). This is the order for the vast majority of English speaking children.** Is this developmental process the same for most Indo-European languages? [more inside]
20ish years ago there was a one-page essay in the (maybe? Last page?) New Yorker that featured many uses of words that had no such root or form. I can't think of any specific words in the essay, but even what the words or practice are called and a list would be nice. Things like "rambunction" for rambunctious, or "consternating" for consternation. Is this mere coinage, or is there a wider practice at work? [more inside]
I’ve been a lifelong reader and writer. I’m realizing while doing more writing (and in particular editing my own writing) that I need better resources and suggestions for learning English grammar. I've been told by some editors that I make mistakes and I’d love to have a better sense of how to polish what I write and deal with the little bits of grammatical inaccuracies that sprout up in finished pieces. [more inside]
I want to write a program to generate new, realistic-sounding and -looking words. I want to programmatically create strings like 'bik', 'clible', 'aunstic', and 'cranoak', (if these words don't already exist), and avoid strings like 'bblejkm', 'aunstrbl', and other things that don't look pronounceable. Looking for a database of word parts to feed into this program, possibly with a set of accompanying rules. English or any other language (ideally with phonetic representations). [more inside]
Explain the nuanced difference in meaning between "also" or "too" in this sentence: "We repair your motorcycle too." vs "We repair your motorcycle also."
Help me remember how to conjugate French properly when I talk. [more inside]
Lately I've started noticing the construction "or no" in places where I would have expected "or not". [more inside]
I'm studying Japanese. I want to tag and track individual words and grammatical structures that I'm learning. What software will help me do this? [more inside]
I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly reading “I’ve not” in place of “I haven’t” and “I’ll not” in place of “I won’t.” When I was growing up (the 70s), these expressions were exceedingly rare. I knew they existed, of course, but to me they seemed redolent of century-old books: “I’ll not brook such behavior in my classroom, Tom Sawyer!” “Fezziwig! I’ve not heard his voice since my youth.” But in the last 15 years or so, I've been seeing these phrasings more and more often in colloquial writing — other blogs, Amazon reviews, internet discussions, MeFi etc. I don’t seem to hear these forms spoken, which adds to their air of formality. [more inside]
What is the name and/or origin of the meme where intensifers/adverbs are placed before nouns? [more inside]
I'm on a dating site and I've noticed that in the profiles and messages of some non-native English speakers there's a pattern of irregular spacing around commas. I don't believe that it is a random typographical error, as I have seen it repeatedly by different writers. Here's an example: "I like to go to the party ,park,movies ,I like to go hike ,swimming ,travel " The above example is from a native Arabic speaker. Is this related to the grammatical construction of a particular language, differences in keyboards, or something else?
I graduated high school having been in french immersion and when I graduated I did the testing and I was offically bilingual. Hurray! However, that was over 10 years ago and I have hardly spoken it since I graduated. Now, suddenly, my job wants me to get my french proficiency tested to see if I can satisfy the required language requirements for my branch. (We need to have X# of people able to speak French because a percent of our clients speak french as their first language, and right now we're down a person apparently). Au secours! [more inside]
Is it rude to refer to someone in the third person (he/she) while they are present? [more inside]
I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
Linguists, is there a name for this annoying trend, and can we point to where/when it originated: Overusing the word "that" without first defining what you are talking about? [more inside]
Is there a term for, or linguistic function fulfilled by, the phrases "no yeah" and/or "yeah no" when used for the purpose of agreeing?
Bilinguals and polyglots of AskMefi please hope me. I understand a lot of words and grammar in Japanese but don't seem able to use them. How do you make the leap from "knowing" a word or grammar pattern to actually being able to use it in conversation? [more inside]
[Language Processiong / Grammar Question] With a pattern of noun infinitive adjective noun verb infinitive, can the second noun ever be the subject of the verb? Bonus question (below the fold): In the second case does the adverb of the verb always determine the sentiment of the second noun? [more inside]
My Spanish grammar is all kinds of effed up. How do I correct this? [more inside]
Tenses without English equivalents? [more inside]
"To be" or not "to be"? That is the question! [more inside]
In Comp I we read an essay about the use of overly formal language... [more inside]
Why is the sentence "Let's read, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen." incorrectly punctuated? [more inside]
What are the best Italian reference resources to have on hand? [more inside]
What is the plural of "Batman"? [more inside]
Which language has the most homophonic words (one sound, multiple spellings. In English, e.g., BEAR and BARE)? It's hard to do precise comparisons across languages because they differ in what counts as a word, in how complicated their inflectional system is, etc. But even approximate data would be useful. I saw one paper on automatic speech recognition which showed that the system made more errors on French than Italian German etc. and that most of them were due to homophones. But, where are some real facts about degree of homophony across languages?
Is anyone familiar with a German publisher of high-quality, thorough, foreign language grammars? I recall seeing a pretty comprehensive series for South Asian languages....but never made a note of the publisher.
Are there grammar textbooks at the middle school and high school (or even elementary school) levels that incorporate any of the developments in understanding of English grammar that have been made in the past several decades? [more inside]
Where does the colloquial English phrase "I'm good" come from, and has it suddenly exploded in popularity? [more inside]
Can you reccommend a good, in-depth primer on grammar? I don't mean where to use a comma, but rather a clear definition of, for example, nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases. What exactly are tense, mood, person, number, and voice. That kind of thing. [more inside]
Grammar filter: When do you say "up the street" versus "down the street"? [more inside]
Looking for a handy reference book on English grammar. What would you recommend and why? [more inside]
What's going on grammatically in the opening verse of the Quran, which uses a sound masculine plural for the word "worlds"? [more inside]
I was thinking the other day about "all Greek to me!" as I was reading a physics book w/equations (using the Greek symbols) And equations are a sort of language, of course. So I wondered if there's some sort of linguist who's ever looked at the grammar or syntax of math/physics equations and tried to derive, whatever the hell it is linguists derive! Does this sound like something anyone has heard of? If so, have any links?
What are some tips in having better speech? [more inside]
Are adverbs mere adjective spinoffs? [more inside]
How is "I should mind" used to mean "I don't really mind"? This and other grammar/language questions inside. [more inside]
Tell me everything you know about this sentence construction: "Are you finished your lunch?" [more inside]
Grammarians: Is it OK to take liberties with the word "win" when publicizing a contest or draw? [more inside]
LanguageFilter: How can a native English speaker develop a better sense of grammatical cases? [more inside]
In Return of the King, Aragorn says: "I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me." What precisely does he mean by this? My confusion is with the phrase "take the heart of me." Is this a standard idiom?
I'm kicking around a concept for a theoretical piece I hope to work on in the near future, dealing with the way "femininity" and the "female" category are conceived of linguistically. Help me find some empirical data!
I'm kicking around a concept for a theoretical piece I hope to work on in the near future, dealing with the way "femininity" and the "female" category are conceived of linguistically. Help me find some empirical data! [more inside]
Looking for online grammar exercises, games, etc. that would enable me to do a few exercises here and there throughout the day. [more inside]
When should I use "instructive" and when should I use "instructional"? [more inside]
GrammarFilter: Origins and form of "As well he should"? [more inside]
I need help with a pronoun issue. In the following sentences, what noun is the word it replacing? [more inside]
In a sentence such as "When I was younger, I would swim a mile before going to work every day," what grammatical tense is in play? [more inside]
In French, the singular of eye is "oiel" and the plural is "yeux." Are there any nouns in English that have completely different spellings of the singular and plural like this?
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