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How many verbs?

From:Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
Date:Monday, July 12, 2004, 19:10
This is just a random thought, but I was wondering if
there were any natlangs with this feature that
occurred to me for use in a conlang.  The number of
verbs in the language would be very small, covering
only the most basic form of a particular action and
the details would be provided by an adverb-like word
that narrowed down the meaning of the verb.

For example, the language would not have the verbs "to
run" or "to walk", but would use adverbs with the verb
"to move" giving, for example: "to move 'runly'" or
"to move 'walkly'".  These adverbs could then be
applied to other verbs to create idioms unique to the
language like: (using English words)

This boy act-he excitedly too-much did, and speak-he
runly did.  Speak-I requestly did, that speak-he
walkly do.

By using the adverbs "runly" and "walkly" in different
contexts their meanings would somewhat broader and
more versatile, thus keeping the number of such
special adverbs reasonably small as well.

So I can't help but wonder how small a set of verbs
would constitute a useful set.  I'm not thinking of
minimalism for its own sake, but to create as many
verbs as would be useful without violating the spirit
of not creating a new verb when a verb + adverb would
do the job.  A mere 10 verbs and 10 adverbs would give
100 verb + adverb combinations possibly taking over
for 100 separate English verbs, or possibly creating
novel meanings not expressible in English without some



Dirk Elzinga <dirk_elzinga@...>
Sylvia Sotomayor <kelen@...>
Apollo Hogan <apollo@...>
Philippe Caquant <herodote92@...>