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Re: evolving languages

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 15, 2003, 22:16
Arthaey Angosii scripsit:

> >From my knowledge of English, Spanish, and (teensy amounts of) German, I > agree that this is what I've experienced. By why is this so? If I know > the theoretical reasons behind irregularity, perhaps I can do a better job > of working it into Asha'ille. :)
Irregularity *arises* from sound-change, usually. Once "man" in English had the regular plural "manni", but the "a" umlauted to "e" under the influence of the following "i", which was then lost, leaving "man" : "men". Irregularity is *maintained* primarily by frequency of use. Irregular forms that are rarely used slip out of people's knowledge (unless maintained by writing, oral poetry, etc.) and are replaced by regular equivalents. English doesn't have "cow" : "ky" any more (though "kine", doubly irregular, still has some poetic use); we have regularized it to "cow" : "cows". -- John Cowan Humpty Dump Dublin squeaks through his norse Humpty Dump Dublin hath a horrible vorse But for all his kinks English / And his irismanx brogues Humpty Dump Dublin's grandada of all rogues. --Cousin James