Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs
|From:||John Cowan <cowan@...>|
|Date:||Friday, October 1, 1999, 14:44|
Daniel Andreasson scripsit:
> In Sociolinguistics class today we had a discussion
> about irregular forms in languages. You know, strong
> verbs and adjectives, etc. "Go, went, gone".
> "Good, better, best". Obviously it is the most
> frequent verbs and adjectives that are irregular.
> The question is why. We got the explanation that
> because they are so frequent, you can produce it
> faster if it is a lexeme rather than a conjugation.
I think this is a cart-before-horse explanation.
Irregularity is *preserved* by frequency, no doubt:
in English, "kine" has been levelled in favor of "cows",
and "dwarrows" in favor of "dwarfs" (or "dwarves"),
but we still have "I am, you are, he is".
But irregularity is most commonly *generated* by sound
change, which happens, God only knows why.
Suppletion is often the result of sound-change making two
forms collapse together so that a suppletive form is needed,
though I don't know the specifics with "go, went" ("wend",
the suppleting verb, has grown a new preterite "wended").
Scots preserves (or borrows from Norse?) the preterite "gang".
John Cowan email@example.com
I am a member of a civilization. --David Brin