How to need and how to have

The way languages express needing something is linked in a surprising way to how they express having something. In their paper Having “need” and needing “have” Stephanie Harves and Richard Kayne (Linguistic Inquiry, 2012) summarise the facts and suggest an explanation. How to have: H-languages English and some other languages use a transitive verb like…… Continue reading How to need and how to have

Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic

For someone who knows some Russian, the 3rd person possessive adjectives in Croatian look odd.  But looking at it more closely, I’ve realised that their Russian counterparts are just as odd, though in a different way. Russian Table 1 shows some of the possessive adjectives in Russian. The adjective’s stem depends on the person (1st,…… Continue reading Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic

Into the 2-word stage

When I last reported on my youngest granddaughter’s progress in learning language, she was still clearly at the 1-word stage (at 20 months). She was still there a couple of months later, though maybe just starting to produce 2-word phrases or statements. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/early-words She recently had her 2nd birthday and is now very definitely in…… Continue reading Into the 2-word stage

Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?

The past tense of verbs in Russian looks very odd. It marks the gender and number of the verb’s subject, but does not mark whether the subject is 1st person (I / we), 2nd person (you) or 3rd person (she / he / it / they). In this respect, the Russian past tense differs from…… Continue reading Why is the past tense in Russian so odd?

How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish? (2)

I have written before about the major cases in Finnish and Hungarian. https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/03/how-many-cases-are-there-in-hungarian-and-finnishIn this post, I cover the local / spatial cases in those languages. These cases express such concepts as location, movement to or from a place. Finnish Finish has 6 of these cases, made up of 2 series, each containing 3 cases. Cases…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish? (2)

How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish?

The Uralic languages are well known for having a large number of grammatical cases. The two Uralic languages with the most speakers are Hungarian and Finnish. Finnish has 15 cases and Hungarian has between 17 and 27 grammatical cases, depending on how some items are analysed. In contrast, looking only at some examples in languages…… Continue reading How many cases are there in Hungarian and Finnish?

Does English really have case?

Old English had a complex inflection system, distinguishing various morphological cases in nouns, pronouns and adjectives. Complex cases systems also existed in Latin and still exist in, for example, German and Russian. Over time, most case distinctions have vanished from English. In a 1995 paper Does English Really Have Case? in the Journal of Linguistics,…… Continue reading Does English really have case?

Scandinavian language challenge day 38

Today I worked through the last chapter (chapter 12) of Swedish in three months, covering: ‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and”all and ‘whole’ the impersonal pronoun ‘man’ adjectives without a nounhow to translate some common English verbsspellingother words ‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and’ Antingen … eller = either ……… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 38

Scandinavian language challenge day 23

Today I worked through chapter 7 of Swedish in three months, covering: present participlepossessive pronoun: reflexivefuture tenseconditionalother words Present participle The present participle is formed by adding the suffix -ende (-nde for verbs with an infinitive ending in -a). Used as an adjective or adverb, the present participle is indeclinable. en fängslande film (a fascinating film)en…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 23

Scandinavian language challenge day 22

Today I worked through chapter 7 of Danish in three months, covering: possessive pronounsadjectives: comparative and superlativeimpersonal pronounother words Possessive pronouns min / mit / minedin / dit / dineDereshanshendesdensdets vor / vort / vorejeresDeresderesderesderesderes As in Swedish and Norwegian, the form sin / sint / sine is used in stead of hans / hendes /…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 22