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Re: THEORY: irregular conlangs

From:Ed Heil <edheil@...>
Date:Friday, October 1, 1999, 19:37
>===== Original Message From Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...> ===== >Ed Heil wrote: >> 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. > >That can't be true, surely there must be predictable patterns? If a >child learning Navajo learns a verb, how would he know how to use it in >a form that he hasn't heard?
I won't be able to answer definitively until I have got a good Navajo grammar, but as far as I can tell, the child will just have to use patterns he knows or make an educated guess. There are definitely patterns, but they are not regular enough to allow one to definitively predict all the personal endings for a given verb in a given tense if one only knows one. For example, the conjugation of ts'a', "to hear/understand" in the present is: sing dual-plural distributive plural 1 diists'a' diits'a' dadiits'a' 2 dinits'a' doohts'a' dadoohts'a' 3 yidiits'a' yidiits'a' deidiits'a' 3a jidiits'a' jidiits'a' dazhdiits'a' But 'aah, "to learn," is: bohoosh'aah bihwiil'aah bidahwiil'aah bohoolh'aah bohoolh'aah bidahoolh'aah yihoolh'aah yihoolh'aah yidahoolh'aah bihojiil'h'aah bihojiilh'aah bidahojiilh'aah and "to walk around" is: naasha neiit'aash neiikai nanina naah'aash naahkai naagha naa'aash naakai njigha nji'aash njikai (Thats one of the ones where the root changes acording to person: a, 'aash, or kai.) Now, there are certain more or less predicatble things (like yi and ji in 3rd person, sh and n/lh in second person, da in distributive plural), but it really just has to be memorized. I think that given the hedges in the above message ("pretty much" and "not too much of an exaggeration to say"), it's an accurate description. Ed