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Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs

From:Don Blaheta <dpb@...>
Date:Thursday, September 30, 1999, 23:59
Quoth Ed Heil:
> Notice what this situation means, though. It means that in terms of > language use, it is just as effective to have an irregular form as to > have a regular form -- they're both going to be stored and looked up. > Sure the regular form is easier in terms of computation, but > computation is irrelevant for any frequently used language element. > > Now, it's more difficult to *learn* an irregular form than to *learn* > a regular form, but it is absolutely no easier to *use* a regular one > than an irregular one.
The problem with irregular forms are that each one has to be learned, whereas one only needs to learn a single form of a regular word to be able to recognise and produce the others. Thus regularity is a big win for all the semi-common words---once you've seen them, you will store them in unanalysed form, but when you first come across a new form, you'll be able to recognise it. It'd suck if, for example, the past tense of "cogitate" were "cegnessed", because even if you'd seen "cogitate", your mind would draw a great big question mark upon seeing the past tense form. On the other hand, everyone gets exposed to "is" vs. "are" vs. "were" at the earliest possible date, so it's fine (and good) for them to be completely irregular. The semi-regular verbs like "sing, sang, sung" are fine for the relatively common words, since on the off-chance you hadn't seen one you could still probably figure out what it was; but as words pass from "relatively common" to "only sort of common", they tend to re-analyse into regular words, anyway. -- -=-Don<>-=- Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?