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Re: Language Change

From:Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Sunday, January 9, 2000, 4:35
Nik Taylor wrote:

> Patrick Dunn wrote: > > I was unaware that languages could gain cases; I was always under the > > impression that languages tended to simplify, but now I see that "simple" > > is subjective, isn't it? Hmm. > > Also, don't forget that simplification in one area (like morphology) > tends to make language more complex in others (like syntax). For > instance, the loss of free word order in English created the unusually > complex do-question forms. From the syntactically simpler "Whom saw > ye?" we got the more syntactically complex, but morphologically simpler, > "Who did you see?"
I wouldn't say loss of free word order *caused* complication of English syntax through Do-support, but rather, *allowed* for it. Do-support seems to have been triggered by the widespread use of auxilliaries in English, like "have" and "be" for things like the perfect and passive constructions. This makes sense, because if most of your finite verb forms, like in Modern English, end up as some enbedded VP of an auxilliary, it allows for the possibility that the rule forming interrogatives is reformulated from inversion of the finite verb form (whether they serve as auxilliaries or not) to inversion of the *auxilliary* verb form -- in the absence of which, supplying a meaningless _do_. The reason one must say free word order *allows* for this is because other languages (like German) also have relatively fixed word orders despite their case inflections, and also in the case of German, verbs are also highly dependent on auxilliary verbs to flesh out tense, aspect and voice conjugations. I would say that there was a conspiracy of phenomena in English (lack of case endings and dependence on auxilliary verb forms) here working towards the result which we see, the so-called do-support. =========================================== Tom Wier <artabanos@...> AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704 <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ===========================================