Are Some Languages "Superior to Others"”?

Penyafort

Senior Member
Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
Esperanto is a good tool for simple communication between people, but when you try to use it for complex texts and advanced meanings then the its simplicity is more of a disadvantage than advantage. This may also be a reason of the lack of original litterature in this language.
First, there has been original literature in Esperanto for more than a century. Julio Baghy, Kálmán Kalocsay, Heinrich Luyken, Jean Forge, Frederic Pujulà, Jorge Camacho, William Auld... The Golden Age of Esperanto Literature was, obviously, in the early part of the 20th century, when Esperanto reached its peak, in the 10s and 20s.

Second, Esperanto has been said to be able to express levels of complexity for which other languages would need to struggle, thanks to its structure. Morphosyntactic simplicity doesn't necessarily imply semantic simplicity.
 
  • pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Esperanto has been said to be able to express levels of complexity for which other languages would need to struggle, thanks to its structure
    I also read this, but I just assumed it was linguistic peacocking (obviously the creation of Esperanto was idealistic, so I wouldn't be surprised if that idealism coloured the opinion of Esperantists). One can create the most complex, flexible and specific language in the universe, but invariably in practical use ambiguities would arrise and be dealt with as in any natural language, leading, likely, to a a calcification of once flexible aspects of the language, even if it were just a lexification of once spontaneously created terms.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In what way does Esperanto do this? Can you give some examples, please?
    The two most obvious features are the extensive affixation system and the complete regularity of verbal, adjectival and nominal endings. The fact that the language, while regulated, is not native to almost anyone, means that both features combined allow for theoretical production that in most other derivational languages are more restricted by usage. In other words, one can create multiple complex words that one won't find in any dictionary but that are perfectly understandable, which in turn means that anything, from complex philosophical concepts to weird funny colloquialisms could be created and understood most of the times.

    Searching for 'untranslatable Esperanto words', I found:

    • Fiŝiĝotimo: the fear of becoming a fish
    • Maltrodrinkulo: somebody who doesn’t drink enough alcohol
    • Reboiĝi: to become related by marriage once again
    • Novjorkanumadi: to keep doing things people from New York do
    • Baldaŭadiaŭoto: somebody who is going to be told “goodbye” soon
    • Kispagi: to pay for something with a kiss
    • Ŝajnatenta: pretending to pay attention
    • Brakumbezono: the need for a hug
    • Trozorgmortigi: to put somebody to death by taking too much care of them
    • Malbisi: to ask an artist NOT to perform again
    While some of them might look forced, they're mostly understandable once we break down the elements that form it. Yes, the usage can restrict them -there is an actual worldwide Esperanto community after all, even if some here have doubted about it-, but from the moment they can be formed and understood, they could be part of any book, poem or song.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    • Fiŝiĝotimo: the fear of becoming a fish
    • Maltrodrinkulo: somebody who doesn’t drink enough alcohol
    • Reboiĝi: to become related by marriage once again
    • Novjorkanumadi: to keep doing things people from New York do
    • Baldaŭadiaŭoto: somebody who is going to be told “goodbye” soon
    • Kispagi: to pay for something with a kiss
    • Ŝajnatenta: pretending to pay attention
    • Brakumbezono: the need for a hug
    • Trozorgmortigi: to put somebody to death by taking too much care of them
    • Malbisi: to ask an artist NOT to perform again
    If these translations are adequate, then English and Esperanto are equally "complex". A language is not more complex for using less spaces. Any prefixes and any suffix can be replaced by a word.

    Besides, Finnish and Hungarian also make words like that. And in Hungarian, it is very regular.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The examples given are reminiscent of those given for Finnish, Hungarian and Turkish, though one wonders how readily understandable the longest examples are. Whilst not agglutination, English (and other Germanic languages) can pile up nouns as in: the Midlands region head office information technology staff canteen crockery cupboard key custodian.

    One thing about Esperanto is that with all the affixes one can construct a lot of words from a small number of lexemes. The problem with that is that a given combination can have several possible meanings. One Esperanto word for "hospital" is "malsanulejo" which can be analysed roughly as "place associated with not healthy persons". If you look up "malsanulejo" it gives you not only "hospital" but also "ambulance". There may be natural languages which have the same word for hospìtal and ambulance, but I would not bet on it.

    Whilst anyone who knows the affixes of Esperanto can work out that "malsanulejo" means "place associated with not healthy persons", the meaning is not transparent to someone familiar with the Romance lexeme "san-". That seems to be acknowledged as if you look up "hospital" you get not only "malsanulejo" but also "hospitalo". Further, if you look up "ambulance" you get not only "malsanulejo", but also "ambulanco" and "malsanulveturilo", the parsing of which I leave to an Esperantist.

    English has many words for "place associated with not healthy persons", including the following, all of which mean something different: Hospital, clinic, (doctor's) surgery, sickbay, sickroom, nursing home, convalescent home and sanatorium. No doubt Esperanto can find words for all those, but can it do it by adding suffixes to "san-"?

    I do not doubt that there is an Esperanto community, but the community is such that its members are not communicating with each other in the same way as speakers of a community of a natural language where conventions emerge unconsciously.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    which in turn means that anything, from complex philosophical concepts to weird funny colloquialisms could be created and understood most of the times.
    but from the moment they can be formed and understood
    This is the point that interests me. Even if one could create any word one could dream of in Esperanto, it needs to be understood to really count; and if it were to become a natural language spoken by a real, physical, monolingual community in a certain physical region (instead of "1000 - 10 000" native speakers spread out over "120 countries"), I think these words would become more and more codified among the populace who would use the language for mundane, day-to-day purposes. Even if in literature one could continue creating new terms based on existant morphemes, I doubt that that would be the norm in less formal speech or writing, thus levelling its unnatural flexiblity (at least in practical terms).

    EDIT: I just read this in Wiki, which colours the debate a lot, I think (if true):

    En general, incluso los mejores nativos no hablan mucho mejor que expertos esperantófonos, y por tanto, no tienen el rol de líderes del movimiento esperantista

    Generally speaking, even the best native speakers don't speak much better than expert Esperanto speakers, and, therefore, don't have a leadership role in the Esperantist movement.

    Native speakers generally use their language differently than learners. I bet a native Esperanto speaker who never studied their own language wouldn't be so aware of the immense flexibilty of the language outside of its natural context, because they didn't have to learn each morpheme by itself.

    EDIT 2: I'm sure there are plenty of Indigenous American languages that form words similarly, or maybe even more completely.
     
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    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    The two most obvious features are the extensive affixation system and the complete regularity of verbal, adjectival and nominal endings. The fact that the language, while regulated, is not native to almost anyone, means that both features combined allow for theoretical production that in most other derivational languages are more restricted by usage. In other words, one can create multiple complex words that one won't find in any dictionary but that are perfectly understandable, which in turn means that anything, from complex philosophical concepts to weird funny colloquialisms could be created and understood most of the times.

    Searching for 'untranslatable Esperanto words', I found:

    • Fiŝiĝotimo: the fear of becoming a fish
    • Maltrodrinkulo: somebody who doesn’t drink enough alcohol
    • Reboiĝi: to become related by marriage once again
    • Novjorkanumadi: to keep doing things people from New York do
    • Baldaŭadiaŭoto: somebody who is going to be told “goodbye” soon
    • Kispagi: to pay for something with a kiss
    • Ŝajnatenta: pretending to pay attention
    • Brakumbezono: the need for a hug
    • Trozorgmortigi: to put somebody to death by taking too much care of them
    • Malbisi: to ask an artist NOT to perform again
    While some of them might look forced, they're mostly understandable once we break down the elements that form it. Yes, the usage can restrict them -there is an actual worldwide Esperanto community after all, even if some here have doubted about it-, but from the moment they can be formed and understood, they could be part of any book, poem or song.
    This kind of compound words can be ambiguous, and not understandable from the meaning of the components alone. The meaning must be sanctioned by usage. In German, Scandinavian and Finnish it is possible to create new words by compounding existing words. The meaning of them is, however, not obvious for a person not familiar with the new word.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    If these translations are adequate, then English and Esperanto are equally "complex". A language is not more complex for using less spaces. Any prefixes and any suffix can be replaced by a word.
    I never meant Esperanto is in itself more complex than, let alone superior to, other languages. My explanation was rather in reply to Ben Jamin commenting that Esperanto's simplicity was more of a disadvantage than an advantage when used for complex texts, with which I totally disagree. To me, believing that Esperanto -or any other language- is just a tool for communication is like believing that people use a smartphone only to call somebody.
    Besides, Finnish and Hungarian also make words like that. And in Hungarian, it is very regular.
    We'll agree at least that Esperanto's regularity, as a constructed auxiliary language, cannot be beaten by any natural language.

    One thing about Esperanto is that with all the affixes one can construct a lot of words from a small number of lexemes. The problem with that is that a given combination can have several possible meanings. One Esperanto word for "hospital" is "malsanulejo" which can be analysed roughly as "place associated with not healthy persons". If you look up "malsanulejo" it gives you not only "hospital" but also "ambulance". There may be natural languages which have the same word for hospìtal and ambulance, but I would not bet on it.
    Where is the problem? This type of specifications occur a lot in natural languages, English among them. 'Malsanulejo' can be understood for any place for unhealthy people, yes, while hospitalo clearly defines a type of malsanulejo. The fact that both can become almost synonymous is just a case of people tending to use words for the most common of all its senses.

    Generally speaking, even the best native speakers don't speak much better than expert Esperanto speakers, and, therefore, don't have a leadership role in the Esperantist movement.

    Native speakers generally use their language differently than learners. I bet a native Esperanto speaker who never studied their own language wouldn't be so aware of the immense flexibilty of the language outside of its natural context, because they didn't have to learn each morpheme by itself.
    Well, but that's not exclusive of Esperanto. Oftentimes I've spoken to native speakers of English who didn't know the meaning of many a word I, a non-native speaker, happened to know. And we all know that sometimes foreigners who study your language may end up knowing more about some grammar features than yourself, because they've had to master it after much study.

    This kind of compound words can be ambiguous, and not understandable from the meaning of the components alone. The meaning must be sanctioned by usage. In German, Scandinavian and Finnish it is possible to create new words by compounding existing words. The meaning of them is, however, not obvious for a person not familiar with the new word.
    That is what I meant. Natural languages are restrained because they are natural. But aren't poets and singers allowed to play with the language too?

    Those words above are anyway exaggerated terms nobody uses. My point is, for more natural compounds, natural words are also restrained by the fact of them existing or not, while Esperanto, not so much*, which is actually an advantage.

    * Note: There is a language regulator, the Akademio de Esperanto, already regulating since the time of its creator, so not everything is deemed valid.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Esperanto's regularity is one of its problems. Language involves classification and classification is a messy business. Regularity does not sit well with what humans want and need to say about the world and how they feel. If it purports to be clear then any given combination ought to have only one possible meaning. Language is primarily about communication. Zamenhof designed Esperanto as an auxiliary language and must therefore have had communication as a primary aim. Esperanto has not been tested in the crucible of experience. If allowed to develop as, say, a creole develops it would soon become restrained because languages need some restraint so that its speakers know where they are.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Zamenhof designed Esperanto as an auxiliary language and must therefore have had communication as a primary aim. Esperanto has not been tested in the crucible of experience. If allowed to develop as, say, a creole develops it would soon become restrained because languages need some restraint so that its speakers know where they are
    Exactly. At the end of the day, it's futile to argue (even more than arguing about which natlang is better :p) because constructed languages and natural languages are similar only in that they have to do with human communication. Beyond that, the contexts are so irreconcilable that the comparison is impossible. We would either have to judge Esperanto as a constructed language, lacking a real population of speakers and a culture as we know them in relation to natlangs, i.e. linked to a specific region and long-term reality in the world; or as a natural language (which, of course, it is not --regardless of the handful of supposedly native speakers--, and, therefore, we would [continue to] be arguing over hypotheticals).
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Esperanto's regularity is one of its problems. Language involves classification and classification is a messy business. Regularity does not sit well with what humans want and need to say about the world and how they feel. If it purports to be clear then any given combination ought to have only one possible meaning. Language is primarily about communication. Zamenhof designed Esperanto as an auxiliary language and must therefore have had communication as a primary aim. Esperanto has not been tested in the crucible of experience. If allowed to develop as, say, a creole develops it would soon become restrained because languages need some restraint so that its speakers know where they are.

    Exactly. At the end of the day, it's futile to argue (even more than arguing about which natlang is better :p) because constructed languages and natural languages are similar only in that they have to do with human communication. Beyond that, the contexts are so irreconcilable that the comparison is impossible. We would either have to judge Esperanto as a constructed language, lacking a real population of speakers and a culture as we know them in relation to natlangs, i.e. linked to a specific region and long-term reality in the world; or as a natural language (which, of course, it is not --regardless of the handful of supposedly native speakers--, and, therefore, we would [continue to] be arguing over hypotheticals).
    I agree with you to a certain extent. But even natural languages tend to regularity. Ancient languages had in general a more complex grammar, and even within the same language the trend is to simplicity, analogy in forms, irregular forms that become "less irregular" or completely regular, and so on.

    Esperanto is an auxiliary language indeed, or at least that was its initial aim. But as the language it is, fully functional and having been adapted through the decades, can be and is used for many purposes. The fact that there is a good deal of literature, news, music bands, congresses in the language (in comparison to many world languages of that size) has created for more than a century a cultural world of its own, a Esperantujo (see meaning), which forces to regard the language as one of a kind, closer to a sort of literate worldwide diaspora language rather than a mere auxlang.
     

    raamez

    Member
    Arabic
    The purpose of the creation of Esperanto in the 19th CE was to establish a new lingua franca. I think for that matter Esperanto has largely failed to succeed and eventually English became the language the whole world now use to communicate. Why should anyone learn an artifical language which isn't used by anyone for education ,in the politcs, on street, in the market, etc.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    But even natural languages tend to regularity. Ancient languages had in general a more complex grammar, and even within the same language the trend is to simplicity, analogy in forms, irregular forms that become "less irregular" or completely regular, and so on.
    I agree completely. Regularity doesn't come into play for me, as far as this discussion is concerned. Agglutinating and polysynthetic languages tend to be extrmely regular due to their high morpheme--meaning ratio. All modern European languages have all tended toward regularity (except maybe German and Icelandic :p). We humans do like patterns, after all.

    I would love to see how the language would evolve --or not-- if a community of monolingual, native Esperantists were given land on which to live together, with no contact with the outside world except, maybe, other neighbouring communities. I feel like either they would double down on their language and keep it pure (although, with no outside influence/threat, maybe purism wouldn't be important), or it would be unrecognizable within a couple of generations. Either way, we would see just how well the language could adapt to a normal Earthly existence.
     
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    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I agree with you to a certain extent. But even natural languages tend to regularity. Ancient languages had in general a more complex grammar, and even within the same language the trend is to simplicity, analogy in forms, irregular forms that become "less irregular" or completely regular, and so on.
    Yes, humans have a tendency to make things regular, but sometimes that makes things worse. Dutch has nearly 30 verbs (excluding derivatives) that are partly strong: the past tense became weak, but the past participle is still strong (for a few of them, it's the opposite).

    One of the things I like about Swedish is that the strong verbs are still quite regular. In fact, I find the weak verbs harder in Swedish because you have to memorize which ending they take in the present.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    The purpose of the creation of Esperanto in the 19th CE was to establish a new lingua franca. I think for that matter Esperanto has largely failed to succeed
    Seeing it as a failure is relative. It may have failed if one really believed its initial ambitious goal could be possible. At the same time, no other constructed language in modern History has achieved the status of Esperanto.

    In any case, I don't think the failure is due to any inherent linguistic features of the language, but to extralinguistic factors having to do with politics. As Antonio de Nebrija wrote in 1492, in the foreword of his Grammar of the Spanish language: 'My Queen, one clear conclusion I draw from these thoughts of mine: that language always was a companion of the Empire".
    Why should anyone learn an artifical language which isn't used by anyone for education ,in the politcs, on street, in the market, etc.
    For two main reasons: it is regular, which means you can learn it much faster than any other; it belongs to nobody, so there aren't privileged native speakers and nobody feels like learning the language from a certain nation/empire.

    It has been introduced in education in a few countries on certain occasions. The thing is, if the will to make it happen had existed and governments had agreed on it, it could well have been the language taught as a foreign language. Who would have thought before the rise of the US in the 1940s that English would become the global language it is today? People who didn't belong to the Commonwealth still studied French as a foreign language. In fact, if Esperanto didn't become one of the official languages of the United Nations, it was because of a veto by French speakers, who still saw their language as the global one.

    This is why I guess Esperantism reached its peak in the 10s and 20s. French was already decaying and English had still to fully rise. The period in between World Wars invited to believe that it was possible.
    I would love to see how the language would evolve --or not-- if a community of monolingual, native Esperantists were given land on which to live together, with no contact with the outside world except, maybe, other neighbouring communities. I feel like either they would double down on their language and keep it pure (although, with no outside influence/threat, maybe purism wouldn't be important), or it would be unrecognizable within a couple of generations. Either way, we would see just how well the language could adapt to a normal Earthly existence.
    Well, we might have got to know if Neutral Moresnet (in modern East Belgium) had effectively become Amikejo in 1980... :)
    During 1908, Dr. Molly proposed making Neutral Moresnet the world's first Esperanto‑speaking state, named Amikejo ("friendship-place"). The proposed national anthem was an Esperanto march of the same name, set to the tune of "O Tannenbaum". A number of residents learned Esperanto and a rally was held in Kelmis to endorse the idea of Amikejo on 13 August 1908, and a coat of arms was publicized. The World Congress of Esperanto, meeting in Dresden, even declared Neutral Moresnet the world capital of the Esperanto community. [From the English Wikipedia]
    There was -and still is for most speakers- a certain mindset attached to this language, a willingness for fraternity, that might have given rise to the country being seen as a neutral state indeed. But let's say nowadays one chooses to be a Esperanto speaker. In a country in which it had become the natural language, many people born there would obviously not have that willingness any more, despite all efforts the government could have made about it.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    I suspect that English is better suited for pop song lyrics than many other languages. I also conclude that tonal languages like Chinese probably pose more difficulties for the same matter.
    English and Korean. South Korea is the pop music capital of the world, more than the US. Their weekly TV show (showing the country's current pop music hits) is broadcast live in 88 countries. Or it was when I watched it, back in 2014.

    I also conclude that tonal languages like Chinese probably pose more difficulties for the same matter.

    I watched a video yesterday about songs in Mandarin. It pointed out that songs lack tones, and this is a problem. It said that some native speakers can't understand some Chinese song lyrics, due to the lack of tones.

    The video also said that song-writers try to choose words so that the pitch changes in the song correspond to tonesm but that isn't always possible.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    Fiŝiĝotimo: the fear of becoming a fish
    You just expressed the same idea in Esperanto and in English. Which is superior: using 1 word or using 6 words?

    English uses word order to distinguish verb-subject, verb-direct-object, and verb-indirect-object. Japanese uses particles instead of word order. Latin used word endings instead of word order. Which is superior?

    When studying Mandarin, I've basically given up noun/verb/adjective. It seems like most words can be any of them. Is that good or bad?

    I have no opinion about "superior". But languages are certainly "different".

    As is well known, Welsh is "the language of heaven".
    Well of course! We all know that Welsh is the best language! We also know that Welsh is impossible to speak. Some people claim to speak it, but I suspect that's just a hoax... o_O
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    US English
    In my work I handle documents that (in their final form) are always published in English, French and German. Being responsible for translation of some of the documents to Norwegian (they are always done from the English version) I am often confronted with ambiguous passages in the English version, and how to interpret them. In these cases I always check up with the German and French version, and this usually helps me to find the exact meaning of the passage in question. My conclusion is that English is the least precise of those three mentioned languages, and that there are also many other languages that are more precise than English.
    If the German and French versions are translations of the English version, they may be more exact, but be incorrect.

    Or maybe they were correct, but you failed to detect something in the English version that made it unambiguous. As long as the sentences were not ambiguous to the German and French translators, the translations were correct, so they were useful.

    Many English words have lots of different meanings, it is enough to consult a good dictionary.
    Yes. English words have lots of different meanings. And often dictionaries don't help. Most of the time a native speaker can identify the precise meaning (though it may not exactly match any of the dictionary ones).

    The writer can be fixed at the fact that he understands perfectly the matter, and believe that the meaning is equally clear for the reader.
    Good point. That definitely happens. The writer has a clear idea, and expresses it correctly. But his words also express other ideas, and the writer doesn't notice. For the reader, this is ambiguous.

    I've seen this many times on tests. The test-creator has an idea (and only one of the answers matches their idea). The test question expresses that idea. But the test question has other meanings, and a different answer matches one of those.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    Good point. That definitely happens. The writer has a clear idea, and expresses it correctly.
    And that's if they express it correctly. Many times, though, due to how common idioms are in English, the text can end up being a jumble of thoughts that, while technically understandable by a native speaker, reveals itself as more of a linguistic ink-blot test or word-picture of the mind of the writer, and as you parse what is written--say, to translate it--it is a little like remembering a dream: the initial understanding of the text seems far more tenuous the closer you look at it.
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    You just expressed the same idea in Esperanto and in English. Which is superior: using 1 word or using 6 words?
    I don't think any language is superior to any other, in the first place. I perfectly know all things can be expressed in all languages in a way or another, whether it's with just one or ninety-nine words. Those who defend semantic primes -all things are expressable with just a handful of words- know well about it. My defense of Esperanto -and I'm no Esperantist- was simply in response to considerations I judge misinformed on its supposed lack of complexity or expressivity.
     

    Hulalessar

    Senior Member
    English - England
    All modern European languages have all tended toward regularity (except maybe German and Icelandic :p).

    That is not the case with the Romance languages. Comparing Latin with, say, Spanish the Latin verb may have more forms, but there are only a handful of irregular verbs and four conjugations with one mixed conjugation. My Spanish grammar has 65 different verb paradigms. Admittedly some reflect no more than spelling changes required by the rules of Spanish orthography. Ignoring those, there are still a lot of irregular verbs, not to mention radical changing verbs, some of which diphthongise stressed stems, some of which just change the vowel and some of which do both. I would say that Latin and Spanish verbs are just about equally complex.

    Complexity is a difficult thing to measure with natural languages because they differ from each other in so many different ways. The same applies to conlangs. All conlangs have their critics, but the real problem they have (assuming not devised for mere diversion) is that that they are predicated on the assumption that a complete language can be created by a single person or committee when all natural languages evolve over time in the context of human interaction. Whilst all standard languages have some degree of artificiality coming from conscious input, they are all based on conventions reached by processes not fully understood.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    My Spanish grammar has 65 different verb paradigms. Admittedly some reflect no more than spelling changes required by the rules of Spanish orthography. Ignoring those, there are still a lot of irregular verbs, not to mention radical changing verbs, some of which diphthongise stressed stems, some of which just change the vowel and some of which do both. I would say that Latin and Spanish verbs are just about equally complex.

    Complexity is a difficult thing to measure with natural languages because they differ from each other in so many different ways
    As someone learning Spanish, the irregular verbs seem crazy; but there's an internal logic that attenuates the irregularity. There are only a few verbs that are purely irregular, and even then, sometimes its only one tense, person, etc.; all others share forms and conjugations. (Among Romance languages, I have the impresión that Spanish has one of the most regular verbal systems, to both our points :p).

    But as you say, it's difficult to measure. As much as we humans think of ourselves as supremely logical, everything we think and how we perceive things is based on our previous experiences and knowledge and background, culture, education, etc. and that leads us toward many biases.
     
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    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Dutch - Belgium
    I can't comment on Spanish, only on French. Verb endings in French are very regular. The present tense has verb endings for -er verbs (e, es, e, ons, ez, ent), verb endings for the other verbs (s, s, t, ons, ez, ent) and 7 irregular verbs (être, avoir, aller, faire, pouvoir, vouloir, valoir). For all other tenses, the verb endings are completely regular for every verb.

    The hard part about French verbs is not the verb endings, but rather the stems. I assume this is more regular in Latin, but honestly, I don't remember. I do remember Latin had a lot of noun stems that changed and this was considered "regular" even though it wasn't. You always had to memorize both the nominative and the genitive. If Latin verbs are also like that, then it is equally irregular as French.

    If I counted correctly, French has 51 verb paradigms, but if you only look at verb endings, it's 6 verb paradigms.
     

    pollohispanizado

    Senior Member
    Inglés canadiense
    If I counted correctly, French has 51 verb paradigms, but if you only look at verb endings, it's 6 verb paradigms
    The endings don't tend to be irregular in Romance verbs, anyway. In Spanish, except for the rizotonic preterites, the endings are always the same; the irregularity is all in the roots, and of these mostly just slight, and mostly predictable, changes in the vowel --a type of umlaut--. (Plus, all the final syllables eroded away in French.) The most irregular tenses in French --the simple past and the past subjunctive, which is formed on the 3 person plural preterite form-- are only used in literature, and, even then, less and less as time passes.
     
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