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Linguistics FAQ



Frequently Asked Questions about the scientific or historical study of human language(s).

This FAQ about the scientific or historical study of human language(s) was compiled and written by Michael Covington (mcovingt@ai.uga.edu) and Mark Rosenfelder (markrose@zompist.com) with numerous contributions by others.

-1. What is sci.lang for?
Discussion of the scientific or historical study of human language(s)....
-2. What is linguistics?
The scientific study of human language, including:...
-3. Does linguistics tell people how to speak or write properly?
No. Linguistics is descriptive, not prescriptive....
-4. What are some good books about linguistics?
(These are cited by title and author only. Full ordering ...
-5. How did language originate?
Nobody knows. Very little evidence is available....
-6. What is known about prehistoric language?
Quite a lot, if by prehistoric you'll settle for maybe 2000 ...
-7. What do those asterisks mean? (sci.lang)
Attached to a word, either of 2 things....
-8. How are present-day languages related?
[--Scott DeLancey]...
-9. Why do Hebrew and Yiddish / Japanese and Chinese / Persian and Arabic look so much alike if they aren't related?
Distinguish LANGUAGE from WRITING SYSTEM....
-10. How do linguists decide that languages are related?
[--markrose]...
-11. What is Noam Chomsky's transformational grammar all about?
Several things; it really comprises several layers of theory:...
-12. What is a dialect?
[--M.C. + M.R.]...
-13. Are all languages equally complex, or are some more primitive than others?
[--M.C. + M.R.]...
-14. What about artificial languages, such as Esperanto?
[--markrose]...
-15. What are some stories and novels that involve linguistics?
[--markrose]...
-16. What about those Eskimo words for snow? (and other myths about language)
[--markrose]...
-17. Where can I get an electronic IPA font (or other electronic resources)?
[--markrose]...
-18. How do I subscribe to the LINGUIST list?
The LINGUIST list is a mailing list dedicated to linguistics; it's ...
-19. How can I represent phonetic symbols in ASCII?
The following table is a summary of Evan Kirshenbaum's IPA/ASCII schema,...
-20. Is English a creole?
[--markrose]...
-21. How do you look up a word in a Chinese or Japanese dictionary?
[--markrose]...
-22. What about Nostratic and Proto-World?
[--markrose]...
-23. What are phonemes and why's it so hard to lose a foreign accent?
[--markrose] ...
-24. How likely are chance resemblances between languages?
[--markrose]...
-25. How are tone languages sung?
[--markrose]...
-26. Why are there so many words for Germany?
[--markrose]...
-27. Why do both English and French have plurals in -s?
-Miguel Carrasquer Vidal (adapted by markrose)] ...
-28. How did genders and cases develop in IE?
[--Mikael Thompson]...
-29. What is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis?
[--markrose] ...
-30. Languages keep simplifying-- how did they ever become complex?
[--markrose]...
-31. Where did (some word or phrase) come from?
[--markrose]...









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