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Re: THEORY: Verbs go irregular before our very eyes!

From:And Rosta <a.rosta@...>
Date:Thursday, November 8, 2001, 5:36
John Cowan:
> 1) To make the passive voice, apply the suffix "-ia". > 2) Remove any final consonant.
> 3) To make the passive voice of a verb ending in a vowel, > apply the suffix "-a". > > But Set III is the kicker: > > "Rootless" verbs (those newly invented, or created from nouns, or > borrowed from other languages) are made passive with the suffix > "-tia". > > Now these verbs cannot all have underlying forms in -T. Certainly > not the borrowings, where there was no /t/ in the source language! > But if the underlying form ends in a vowel, why is not the suffix > "-a" applied? > > The final explanation, I think, is that the rule-based mechanism > no longer works in present-day Maori. Instead, there are now separate > passive suffixes "-tia", "-kia", "-ngia", "-hia", etc., of which "-tia" is > the regular ending, and the others are lexically specific, just like English > strong verbs. Of course, only a few verbs, the new ones, have become > regularized as yet. We can probably expect Maori, if it survives, to have > some of the rarer verbs losing their irregular inflections in favor of -tia.
If Set III stems are all V-final, then Set I stems, the C-final ones, can be made regular by a rule that deletes the t- from -tia. That leaves Set II as those with unconditioned t-deletion. There could also, alternatively, be a rule that denominal and borrowed verbs must have stems ending in t (with passive suffix as per rule 1), though it is harder to suppose that such a rule could apply to newly invented words. From the learner's point of view, none of this makes any difference; my point is just that from the analyst's point of view, varying degrees of ingenuity will find varying degrees of regularity. More generally, though, I believe that unless (as in English) regular and irregular inflection have phonologically different repercussions, inflectional (ir)regularity is largely an irrelevance to the existing lexicon. --And.


John Cowan <jcowan@...>