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Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs

From:R. Nierse <rnierse@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 1999, 7:35
> Yep. That's more or less what I was saying. Irregularity is a > problem for learning, but not at all a problem for use -- because > regularity is an advantage for learning, but not at all an advantage > for use.
IMO most language users are persons that have acquired the language as a kid. Children don't learn a language (they absorb it) so they don't make a distinction between regular and irregular forms. Words are just words and children use them when they need them. At a later stage children discover the regularities and start making all irregular verbs, adjectives etc. regular. After that they notice that the language community uses some irregular forms instead of regular and those are remembered. Can't be too much, because we can't rememeber all irregular forms, so the irregular ones that are used most will be remembered.
> So for any words which are common enough in use that it can > be safely assumed that all language users have seen all their forms > long ago, regularity is not an issue. >
> Again, this allows languages such as Navajo to exist. In Navajo, the > personal prefixes (analogous to Latin -o -s -t -mus -tis -nt, and so > on) are pretty much *different for every verb*, which means that it's > not too much of an exaggeration to say that *every verb in Navajo is > irregular* in the same way that "to be" is irregular in English. (The > few verbs which are really irregular even by Navajo standards actually > change the verb stem too, depending on whether they are conjugated in > the singular, dual, or plural.)
I have "Navajo made easier" waiting in a box to be read. I think I'll start reading soon!