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Re: evolving languages

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Wednesday, January 15, 2003, 22:26
En réponse à Arthaey Angosii <arthaey@...>:

> > 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. :) >
If I understood correctly, common words are treated separately from less common words in the brains. Common words are treated by memory, i.e. each form of a word is stored separately in the brains, while less common words are stored in the form of rules to apply to a base word stored in memory. For very common words, the treatment by memory is actually more efficient than applying the rules each time. Since all the forms of common words are actually stored directly in memory rather than reconstructed from rules each time they have to be used, it doesn't matter if they are irregular, the treatment by memory will be just as efficient. Less common forms though will be more likely treated using rules, which is for them more efficient since they are not commonly used and thus the brains doesn't like to sacrifice too much memory for them. That's why uncommon irregular forms tend to get regularised, while common irregular forms are perfectly fine. It's probably more complicated than this, but I think it's basically correct.
> > more or less. adv : (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to > correct; > "lasted approximately an hour"; "in just about a minute"; "he's about > 30 > years old"; "I've had about all I can stand"; "we meet about once a > month"; > "some forty people came"; "weighs around a hundred pounds"; "roughly > $3,000"; "holds 3 gallons, more or less"; "20 or so people were at the > party" [syn: approximately, about, close to, just about, some, > roughly, > around, or so] >
Oh! I see what you mean now! Well, of course I know it can mean that, just like in French. But in the case of the sentence I wrote, I meant it literally. In speech, it would have another intonation to recognise it. Is that so uncommon to use the words "more or less" literally? I've read that fairly often...
> Of course, there are the times when a speaker plays on the "logical" > meaning behind the idiom. Your "more or less" sentence is such an > example, > even if you didn't mean it that way. So, where you wrote: > > >In short, there are plenty of tendencies. But languages tend to be more > or > less > >willing to follow them, and the less willing ones seem to resist quite > well > > It could be interpreted to mean that languages more or less follow the > tendencies (ie, languages generally follow the tendencies) but (now > entering into the play on words...) but some really are much less > willing > to follow.
It could be a way of seeing it. It gives exactly the meaning I wanted to pass anyway, so it's OK :)) . Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.