Re: Pluralis på svensk och tysk (was: Re: Performative verbs (was: Re: here is some stuff i want all of ya'll to look at)
|From:||Mark Reed <markjreed@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, September 8, 2004, 14:14|
On Wed, 8 Sep 2004 10:07:28 +0200, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...> wrote:
> I guess there's no hard line for when the probability for a certain formation is
> high enough to say it's the regular one, but I intuitively feel that 67% is too
> low, and that I, as a native speaker, do not feel that -er plurals are any more
> unexpected than -ar ones on this kind of nouns.
The magnitude of the probability doesn't really have anything to do
There are (at least) two types of regularity: statistical and, for
want of a better word, morphological. They answer two different
1. Given a randomly chosen noun from language X, which of the possible
plural forms is more likely than any of the others to be correct?
This is statistical regularity. The absolute magnitude of the
probability doesn't matter; all that matters is the *relative*
probabilities of the various options. Whichever form has the
plurality of cases would be the statistically regular one.
2. Given a novel noun being introduced to language X for the first
time, which of the possible plural forms is most likely to be applied
to it by a native speaker?
This is morphological regularity, and concerns the default form rather
than the most common. There are other ways of identifying the
morphologically regular form - for instance, application of a rule
takes slightly longer than looking up a memorized form, so you can
time how long a speaker takes to answer when asked for the plural of
word X, and over enough speakers and trials you will generally find a
clear indicator that some type of plural consistently takes longer
than others to come out.
The two are not necessarily the same; as John said, German is a good
example. The statistically regular plural is probably -en, but the
morphologically regular plural is -s - even though it's statistically
the *least* common form.
To apply the test to Swedish, let's say you were discussing baseball
in that language (not very likely, perhaps) and you wished to express
the number of RBIs(*) a certain player has accumulated this year.
Without expanding or translating "RBI", how would you make it plural?
I won't listen to any arguments from my fellow Americans that the
plural of "RBI" should be "RBI" because that's what you get if you
expand the acronym, make the head noun plural, and re-abbreviate it.
It's lexicalized. Deal with it. :)