Why do languages have irregular verbs?

Artrella

Banned
BA
Spanish-Argentina
Hi! I've always wondered why do we have irregular verbs, what for? If our brains are prepared for certain grammatical categories, why change them?
Take this example from my Spanish>> verbo "poner". A baby would produce "yo pono" "yo pusí"...
What about the English "go">> a baby would say "I go" "I goed"
And then German...uh! this I will leave to Who...
Italian... "mangiare" "io mangio" "io ho mangiato" ( only one "t"), but "scrivo" "ho scritto" (double "t")...
This is all I can gather so far, maybe someone else could add more examples in their own language. Do you know any language that does not have irregular verbs?

But any ideas why languages have this feature of having "irregular verbs"?
Does anyone know where one can read about this fact?

Thank you!
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    This source claims that Turkish and - surprise surprise - Esperanto have no irregular verbs. Interestingly, Chinese has only 1 and Japanese 3. Quite tolerable, isn't it? :)

    From the same page:

    Formation of irregular verbs

    Most irregular verbs exist as remnants of historical conjugation systems. What is today an exception actually followed a set, normal rule long ago. When that rule fell into disuse, some verbs kept the old conjugation. An example of this is the word kept, which before the Great Vowel Shift fell into a class of words where the vowel in keep (then pronounced kehp) was shortened in the past tense.

    Go there and read it.

    Jana
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Artrella said:
    And then German...uh! this I will leave to Who...

    Thanks for referring to me, Art. ;)

    Intersting thread. Ok, here you go:

    An infant would conjugate our verb "gehen" in the past tense like this:

    gehen - ich gehte - du gehtest - er gehte - wir gehten - etc.

    And "sein"??? (be)

    sein - ich sein - du seist - er seit - wir sein - etc.

    In Spanish the same:

    ser - so (soy) - ses (eres) - se (es) - semos (somos) - séis (sois) - sen (son) ?????? (please correct me, Art)

    In Latin: (be)

    esse - esso (sum) - es (es) - est (est) - esmus (sumus) - estis (estis) - esnt (sunt)

    You see? There's no much difference! (suprising)
     

    jorge_val_ribera

    Senior Member
    Español
    And don't forget that not only babies make this mistakes! Like the "classical" Spanish mistake which some native speakers make: Yo sabo instead of yo sé.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    If you've ever noticed, verbs that are irregular tend to be the most commonly used ones. That said, one of the reasons could be the constant use of these verbs. Perhaps they started out as regular verbs, but gradually evolved and were modified into the forms we now know.

    I don't think Arabic has irregular verbs, per se. There are various categories of verbs, and when a verb falls into them it is conjugated pretty reliably and consistently. I think it's akin to Latin or ancient Greek, which also have various categories of conjugation.

    But I don't know; I haven't studied Arabic grammar very extensively, and certainly never as a foreign language. Perhaps a foreign learner could shed some more light on the classification of Arabic verbs.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    And don't forget that not only babies make this mistakes! Like the "classical" Spanish mistake which some native speakers make: Yo sabo instead of yo sé.

    Natives actually say this??!! :eek:
     

    charlie2

    Senior Member
    Jana337 said:
    This source claims that Turkish and - surprise surprise - Esperanto have no irregular verbs. Interestingly, Chinese has only 1 and Japanese 3. Quite tolerable, isn't it? :) ...

    As I understand it, there is no conjugation and hence there are no irregular verbs in the Chinese language as in for example, the English language, we just qualify the verbs by adding on something else. The link you gave seems to suggest that Chinese has one irregular verb. It amazes me because if I have not misunderstood it (what is said there) it actually considers "to have" 有 or "have not" 沒有 or even "rather than" as the only irregular verb in the Chinese language. I tend to think that this is misleading.
    Perhaps I did misunderstand it.
     

    jorge_val_ribera

    Senior Member
    Español
    elroy said:
    Natives actually say this??!! :eek:

    Yes, some natives who don't have education (you know, poor people who can't afford to go to a school) say that. And many other things, like que haiga instead of que haya, and la calor instead of el calor.

    And la calor is actually used by many natives, even educated ones (at least here). You know, I guess every language has errors which are frequently made by a substantial part of their users, like the English he don't know and the German Im Sommer diesen Jahres, etc etc etc etc.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    Yes, some natives who don't have education (you know, poor people who can't afford to go to a school) say that. And many other things, like que haiga instead of que haya, and la calor instead of el calor.

    And la calor is actually used by many natives, even educated ones (at least here). You know, I guess every language has errors which are frequently made by a substantial part of their users, like the English he don't know and the German Im Sommer diesen Jahres, etc etc etc etc.

    Yup, you're absolutely right. Whie "I don't know" isn't as common, there are many other common mistakes in English such us "It's me," "I feel nauseous," "He's smarter than me," and others. :)
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Elroy, another common mistake in Spanish is "escribido" instead of "escrito"...
    (to write). But mostly amongst children...and sometimes, believe it or not amongst adults when they are not paying attention... so that shows that deep in your brain, those grammatical categories remain for some reason...

    Why do you say that maybe verbs were regular in the beginning and they evolved into irregular ones...why do you think it happened so? What do you think it was the benefit of that change? Do you consider it was related to phonetics? Were they simple mistakes?
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Artrella said:
    Elroy, another common mistake in Spanish is "escribido" instead of "escrito"...
    (to write). But mostly amongst children...and sometimes, believe it or not amongst adults when they are not paying attention... so that shows that deep in your brain, those grammatical categories remain for some reason...

    Why do you say that maybe verbs were regular in the beginning and they evolved into irregular ones...why do you think it happened so? What do you think it was the benefit of that change? Do you consider it was related to phonetics? Were they simple mistakes?

    I don't think it was deliberate. I think words and sounds may change through constant use. I haven't done any research on this but I've been told by a linguist that there is a correlation between irregularity of verbs and frequency of use.

    Would be an interesting topic to explore in more detail...
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Whodunit said:
    Yeah, you're right. I could add "es kostet mir Geld", "mits Rad" (used only by uneducated natives), "der Briefkuvert" etc. :eek:

    What's wrong with "Es kostet mir Geld"?
     

    Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    elroy said:
    Ah ok... Two direct objects, then, like "Ich frage dich etwas." :eek:

    Genau.
    Ich habe es im Duden nachgeschlagen. Es ist komplizierter, als ich gedacht habe. Ich erstelle dazu einen spezialisierten Thread im deutschen Forum.

    Jana
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    elroy said:
    I don't think it was deliberate. I think words and sounds may change through constant use. I haven't done any research on this but I've been told by a linguist that there is a correlation between irregularity of verbs and frequency of use.

    Would be an interesting topic to explore in more detail...


    Yes, I would like to know how was it that the verbs turned into irregular? I mean wasn't it more difficult to turn them into irregular? Imagine, that nowadays people (children especially) tend to use them in their "regularized" form... I wonder why? So if this evolution you are talking about took place a long time ago, maybe now the irregular verbs could turn back again to the "regular form" just because of the use or "misuse" of them?

    I wonder to whom can I ask this question?
     

    Whodunit

    Senior Member
    Deutschland ~ Deutsch/Sächsisch
    Artrella said:
    Yes, I would like to know how was it that the verbs turned into irregular? I mean wasn't it more difficult to turn them into irregular? Imagine, that nowadays people (children especially) tend to use them in their "regularized" form... I wonder why? So if this evolution you are talking about took place a long time ago, maybe now the irregular verbs could turn back again to the "regular form" just because of the use or "misuse" of them?

    I wonder to whom can I ask this question?

    Hm ... let me suggest a problem with verbs in German. Maybe you know the word "winken" (wave), and how would you form its past participle?

    Almost everyone in Germany says "ich habe gewunken" (I waved), irregular, but the correct word is "ich habe gewinkt", reguar. So, why were we taught wrong all the time?
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Whodunit said:
    Hm ... let me suggest a problem with verbs in German. Maybe you know the word "winken" (wave), and how would you form its past participle?

    Almost everyone in Germany says "ich habe gewunken" (I waved), irregular, but the correct word is "ich habe gewinkt", reguar. So, why were we taught wrong all the time?


    No; I didn't know that Who. But well, when I'm learning the past participles in German I tend to make them "unregelmassig" and don't know why... An you are right... everyone in my class tends to do that.... :D
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Artrella said:
    No; I didn't know that Who. But well, when I'm learning the past participles in German I tend to make them "unregelmassig" and don't know why... An you are right... everyone in my class tends to do that.... :D

    It's because you get used to a pattern and then it's hard to break it.

    In English lots of people say "I have proven" when it should be "I have proved."
     

    jorge_val_ribera

    Senior Member
    Español
    Whodunit said:
    Hm ... let me suggest a problem with verbs in German. Maybe you know the word "winken" (wave), and how would you form its past participle?

    Almost everyone in Germany says "ich habe gewunken" (I waved), irregular, but the correct word is "ich habe gewinkt", reguar. So, why were we taught wrong all the time?

    I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. Look at this:

    "Das Verb "winken" wird regelmäßig konjugiert: ich winke, ich winkte, ich habe gewinkt. Die Form "gewunken" ist landschaftlich verbreitet, aber streng genommen ein Irrtum."

    That "landschaftlich verbreitet" is a big problem, I think. You know, with the many dialects you have in Germany you can say something in the South and it is totally understood and "right", but you go to the North and it's "wrong". In the end, you don't know who's right and what's "richtiges und gutes Deutsch".

    I had that experience myself. I swear I was thaught in school that it was "Ich bin gestanden". Well, I was in Germany (Schwarzwald) and I said that and it was totally ok. But then I found out that "Ich bin gestanden" is no Hochdeutsch, and that it's "Ich habe gestanden". It was a total schock for me...can you imagine, I was thaught something wrong and used it for yeeeears without knowing it was!!!
     

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    I know EXACTLY what you're talking about. Look at this:

    "Das Verb "winken" wird regelmäßig konjugiert: ich winke, ich winkte, ich habe gewinkt. Die Form "gewunken" ist landschaftlich verbreitet, aber streng genommen ein Irrtum."

    That "landschaftlich verbreitet" is a big problem, I think. You know, with the many dialects you have in Germany you can say something in the South and it is totally understood and "right", but you go to the North and it's "wrong". In the end, you don't know who's right and what's "richtiges und gutes Deutsch".

    I had that experience myself. I swear I was thaught in school that it was "Ich bin gestanden". Well, I was in Germany (Schwarzwald) and I said that and it was totally ok. But then I found out that "Ich bin gestanden" is no Hochdeutsch, and that it's "Ich habe gestanden". It was a total schock for me...can you imagine, I was thaught something wrong and used it for yeeeears without knowing it was!!!

    Is it really "Ich habe gestanden"? I also thought it was "Ich bin gestanden"! :confused:
     

    Edwin

    Senior Member
    USA / Native Language: English

    elroy

    Imperfect mod
    US English, Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Edwin said:
    Elroy, I think that is debatable. See the usage notes at the end of the definition here: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=proven&x=0&y=0

    Note that the past participle of prove is given as either proved or proven at this site: http://www.scientificpsychic.com/cgi-bin/verbconj2.pl

    Hmmm...ok, so it's another one of thos debatable issues. I obviously can't contest your authoritative sources; I'll just say that "proven" does sound a lot more natural to me but that I've learned that "proved" is (allegedly) the correct form. I continue to use "proved" in writing and I think I've subconsciously internalized it in speech as well (having though that my previous usage of "proven" was erroneous).

    Nevertheless, I never though "proven" wasn't a word at all. I just always thought it was only supposed to be used in the passive voice but not in the perfect tenses.

    The theory has not been proven.

    BUT

    The scientist has proved the theory.

    Either way, I am now more enlightened. Thanks! :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    As far as I know, both are correct, but "proven" is more archaic (more like the past participles of German?) English verbs with multiple participles.

    In some cases, an irregular verb derives from several ancient verbs that merged into one. I think this happened to the verb "to be" in Latin and Germanic languages.

    Here's another curious fact that I noticed a while ago. Both Spanish and Portuguese have a verb andar, with the same meaning in the two languages. This verb is a Medieval creation; classical Latin did not have it. In Spanish, the verb is irregular. Its pretérito perfecto simple, for example, is anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron. However, in Portuguese the verb is completely regular! :eek:
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Outsider said:
    Both Spanish and Portuguese have a verb andar, with the same meaning in the two languages. This verb is a Medieval creation; classical Latin did not have it. In Spanish, the verb is irregular. Its pretérito perfecto simple, for example, is anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron. However, in Portuguese the verb is completely regular! :eek:

    Well, children say "yo andé" similar to "eu andei"... so what it the connection? Why -I suppose- Spanish evolved to "anduve" instead of "andé"... Because if we have in our brains the idea of "andé" it seems to me that this is the original word.
     

    jorge_val_ribera

    Senior Member
    Español
    Artrella said:
    Well, children say "yo andé" similar to "eu andei"... so what it the connection? Why -I suppose- Spanish evolved to "anduve" instead of "andé"... Because if we have in our brains the idea of "andé" it seems to me that this is the original word.

    Jeje, bueno, Artrella, no es tan así, diría yo (te respondo en español porque no puedo expresarme muy bien en inglés). Mirá, yo he dicho toda mi vida "yo andé", y creía que existían las dos formas (andé y anduve), y que las dos eran correctas. Es más, creía que "andé" tenía el significado de "ir" y "anduve" el de "vagar" o algo así, yo siempre tuve esa idea. Recién el año pasado me enteré de que "andé" es incorrecta, y me pareció extrañísimo porque francamente yo nunca usaría esa forma al hablar (y dudaría hasta en escribirla, no me suena bien). Pero aun sabiendo que es incorrecto, yo sigo diciendo "yo andé", y todos acá lo dicen acá; sonaría demasiado raro que alguien diga "yo anduve".

    Me parece raro que vos digás que sólo los niños usan "yo andé"...es que pensé que en Argentina se hablaba más o menos como acá. A ver si me podés aclarar un poco mejor esta cuestión, me interesaría. Nos vemos, cuidate.
     

    Zub

    Senior Member
    Catalan, Spanish
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    Me parece raro que vos digás que sólo los niños usan "yo andé"...es que pensé que en Argentina se hablaba más o menos como acá. A ver si me podés aclarar un poco mejor esta cuestión, me interesaría. Nos vemos, cuidate.

    Desde pequeñito me enseñaron que "andé" está mal, que debemos decir "anduve". Pero incluso sabiéndolo, siempre he dicho, y digo, "andé". Cuando me doy cuenta del error, ya es demasiado tarde. Ya lo he dicho.

    Supongo, además, que lo debo haber oído muy poco, si alguna vez, ya que me chocaría mucho, y supongo que lo recordaría. Lo comentaría:

    "¿Sabéis qué he oído hoy? Uno que lo decía bien!"

    Un saludo.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Italian has andare (andiamo!), which is also irregular, but in different tenses!

    Artrella said:
    Well, children say "yo andé" similar to "eu andei"... so what it the connection? Why -I suppose- Spanish evolved to "anduve" instead of "andé"... Because if we have in our brains the idea of "andé" it seems to me that this is the original word.
    Children tend to regularize all verbs when they're still learning. For instance, they may say escribido instead of escrito. I guess they believe that languages follow grammatical rules. ;)
    But escrito has been the correct form ever since the days of Latin (scriptum, not scribidus:cross:).
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    jorge_val_ribera said:
    Jeje, bueno, Artrella, no es tan así, diría yo (te respondo en español porque no puedo expresarme muy bien en inglés). Mirá, yo he dicho toda mi vida "yo andé", y creía que existían las dos formas (andé y anduve), y que las dos eran correctas. Es más, creía que "andé" tenía el significado de "ir" y "anduve" el de "vagar" o algo así, yo siempre tuve esa idea. Recién el año pasado me enteré de que "andé" es incorrecta, y me pareció extrañísimo porque francamente yo nunca usaría esa forma al hablar (y dudaría hasta en escribirla, no me suena bien). Pero aun sabiendo que es incorrecto, yo sigo diciendo "yo andé", y todos acá lo dicen acá; sonaría demasiado raro que alguien diga "yo anduve".

    Me parece raro que vos digás que sólo los niños usan "yo andé"...es que pensé que en Argentina se hablaba más o menos como acá. A ver si me podés aclarar un poco mejor esta cuestión, me interesaría. Nos vemos, cuidate.

    Hola Jorge, tenés razón, no solamente los niños dicen "andé" a muchas personas adultas se les "escapa" esto y a veces si estamos desatentos hasta decimos "traducí esto" en vez de "traduje esto"....
    Quedate tranquilo, que acá se habla más o menos como en Bolivia!!! :p
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Outsider said:
    Italian has andare (andiamo!), which is also irregular, but in different tenses!

    Children tend to regularize all verbs when they're still learning. For instance, they may say escribido instead of escrito. I guess they believe that languages follow grammatical rules. ;)
    But escrito has been the correct form ever since the days of Latin (scriptum, not scribidus:cross:).


    Yes Outsider, I know this... this is the reason why we say "inscripto" and not "inscribido". But why did Latin have irregular verbs? We cannot take Latin as the first tongue that was spoken in the world... there must have been an original tongue (the first one) which had had regular verbs only. I'm not talking about the irregular verbs in Spanish only. I want to try and see the origins of the verb... in the world!!! But I think this is what the linguists try to understand in their search for the "first language"... and they haven't found it yet!
    Bye! :)
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    What I was taught in linguistics is that children learn (almost) arbitrary words first, so they may use in a first stage the irregular form. In this stage you hear them saying “children”. Then they learn the regularities of the language and overgeneralize the rule, that’s why they tend to say “he goed”, or “the childs”. Finally they learn the exceptions and use them accordingly: “he went” and “children”.

    Regarding adults, I think that in many cases some words are hardly used so the exceptions become strange to our ears. In this case those words have to be memorized in our lexicon. For instance, I find a little hard to conjugate the verb "satisfacer" without thinking about it twice. Curiously enough, it conjugates like "hacer". However, when I conjugate “hacer”, it comes out of my mouth in its irregular form in an unconscious fashion: “yo hice”. On the contrary "satisfacer” might come out far more conscious: “yo me satisfice”. Why? Basically, it is because of usage. I rather say “estoy satisfecha” and not “yo me satisfice”. “Hacer” is in my everyday language. Most forms of “satisfacer” are not.

    Anyway, I’m not a linguist, but my guess is that irregular forms could have been regular in the past and remained like so even though the language evolved and changed its regularity rules. I find a little hard to believe that the human mind would randomly invent irregularities in the language, mainly considering that the Universal Grammar functions following rules. I would love to ask my linguistic teacher about this, and I will let you know if I learn something interesting.

    saludos :)
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Artrella said:
    But why did Latin have irregular verbs? We cannot take Latin as the first tongue that was spoken in the world...
    No, but it was the one that originated our two languages. :)

    Artrella said:
    there must have been an original tongue (the first one) which had had regular verbs only.
    Why only one original language?
    And remember that not all languages conjugate verbs. What if the original language(s) were isolating, like Chinese?
    Even if original languages conjugated verbs, why should we assume that they were neat, carefully planned creations? After all, natural languages are collective inventions of whole societies, not of individuals or committees of scholars...

    Just a little more food for thought. ;)
     

    Like an Angel

    Senior Member
    Argentina - Spanish
    Once my boss said to me "Creí que ya lo habías imprimido", I laughed and said "¿Quiere usted decir impreso?", he laughed and said "Sí, eso quise decir", to my surprise I looked up imprimido in RAED and exists :eek:, imprimir has a regular and an irregular conjugation... that's what I call "to make hard what is easy"
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    That's an interesting case. It happens in Portuguese, too. IMHO, it seems to be because the past participle can be interpreted as an adjective in some constructions, and so people tend to "regularize" the language by making the p.p. identical to the adjective.
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Like an Angel said:
    Once my boss said to me "Creí que ya lo habías imprimido", I laughed and said "¿Quiere usted decir impreso?", he laughed and said "Sí, eso quise decir", to my surprise I looked up imprimido in RAED and exists :eek:, imprimir has a regular and an irregular conjugation... that's what I call "to make hard what is easy"

    Are you trying to lose your job??? :eek: :eek: :eek:
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Outsider said:
    No, but it was the one that originated our two languages.

    Why only one original language?
    And remember that not all languages conjugate verbs. What if the original language(s) were isolating, like Chinese?
    Even if original languages conjugated verbs, why should we assume that they were neat, carefully planned creations? After all, natural languages are collective inventions of whole societies, not of individuals or committees of scholars...

    Just a little more food for thought.

    I agree with your opinion, although, I believe that languages must have looked for regularities because that how our minds work. We don't speak nonsense. As a matter of fact all languages are very coherent in many ways, and it amazes me how they remained coherent for so long without writing systems, grammarians, or scholars. Maybe it's because our minds are highly organized. I believe that maybe when languages evolved, not all parts of it did changed in the same fashion. Some may have not changed at all. Some irregularities could have been regular forms before ...


    saludos :)
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Like an Angel said:
    Once my boss said to me "Creí que ya lo habías imprimido", I laughed and said "¿Quiere usted decir impreso?", he laughed and said "Sí, eso quise decir", to my surprise I looked up imprimido in RAED and exists :eek:, imprimir has a regular and an irregular conjugation... that's what I call "to make hard what is easy"


    Exactly! Once I told that to my brother-in-law and he was like this :eek: . The reason is that there are two gerunds: one regular >> imprimido and one irregular >> impreso. The last one is used more frequently as a noun, whereas the other is only used as a past participle. You can say "dame aquel impreso" o "he impreso tal cosa", but you cannot say "dame aquel imprimido (if you mean a noun)" "He imprimido 100 hojas" "He impreso 100 hojas" "El impreso (= documento )que está sobre la mesa es de Juan". At least this is what I understand of it. What do you think people? :)
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Outsider said:
    No, but it was the one that originated our two languages. :)

    Why only one original language?
    And remember that not all languages conjugate verbs. What if the original language(s) were isolating, like Chinese?
    Even if original languages conjugated verbs, why should we assume that they were neat, carefully planned creations? After all, natural languages are collective inventions of whole societies, not of individuals or committees of scholars...

    Just a little more food for thought. ;)


    ñam..ñam...!! When I said "one original tongue" what I meant to say was the first speakers... the first man...well how to put it? :confused: Of course the geografic distances caused that languages were different, imagine that there were no computers, no telephone, nothing! But my question is more referred to the human brain, what they call neurolinguistics (?), I admit I am an utter ignoramus about that, but you know... I like to ask, and learn, and split hairs... :D
    I am at one with you about the non-planned creation of languages, of course this is not the case. Languages have been evolving with the evolution of societies, just as nowadays. This is perfectly clear to me.
    My question is simple: if for us is more difficult -in all the languages I have the good fortune to know- to conjugate irregular verbs than regular ones, why is that we have both? How come this evolution occurred? I mean not in Spanish only or German, Portuguese, etc... but just to mention one ancient language such as Latin. Why did people come up with this kind verbs and what for? Was it by phonetic reasons? Was it because of some "deformation"? I think we will never know why.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Most irregular Latin verbs are themselves vestiges of the athematic conjugations of Indo-European, a surviving (and regular) group found in Greek.

    Wikipedia on 'irregular verbs'.


    Most irregular verbs exist as remnants of historical conjugation systems. What is today an exception actually followed a set, normal rule long ago. When that rule fell into disuse, some verbs kept the old conjugation.

    Wikipedia on 'English irregular verbs'.
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Great Outsider!! I'll keep searching for more things... this is very interesting to me!! :)
    As regards to the origin of the verbs, what do you think that appeared first..the verb or the adjective?
    In some cases when I read a sentence with copular verbs... of course we can do away with it, and the sentence will perfectly be meaningful. A teacher of Grammar once asked this question about which of them was first born... and I cannot think of an answer...
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Artrella said:
    As regards to the origin of the verbs, what do you think that appeared first..the verb or the adjective?
    I have no idea. Possibly something that was neither and both...
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Outsider said:
    Most irregular Latin verbs are themselves vestiges of the athematic conjugations of Indo-European, a surviving (and regular) group found in Greek.

    Wikipedia on 'irregular verbs'.


    Most irregular verbs exist as remnants of historical conjugation systems. What is today an exception actually followed a set, normal rule long ago. When that rule fell into disuse, some verbs kept the old conjugation.

    Wikipedia on 'English irregular verbs'.

    I'm not surprised at all. As I said before in a couple of posts, it had to be like that since our minds work coherently and we normally tend to search for patterns on everything. So, why would we invent a language that follows randomness?

    saludos :)
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Artrella said:
    Great Outsider!! I'll keep searching for more things... this is very interesting to me!! :)
    As regards to the origin of the verbs, what do you think that appeared first..the verb or the adjective?
    In some cases when I read a sentence with copular verbs... of course we can do away with it, and the sentence will perfectly be meaningful. A teacher of Grammar once asked this question about which of them was first born... and I cannot think of an answer...

    Hola NIL!

    First of all, you have to realize that we don't who spoke first. Homo erectus, maybe? We do know that Homo (sapiens) neanderthalensis spoke, mainly considering the complex cultural evidence they left behind and biologically their vocal cords were evolved enough to make most modern human sounds. So language evolved with humans. But if I have to guess what appeared first, I would think that it was whatever was more necessary at the time. Just keep in mind that language was a survival tool!

    saludos :)
     

    Artrella

    Banned
    BA
    Spanish-Argentina
    Phryne said:
    we normally tend to search for patterns on everything.
    saludos :)


    Yes Phrynita! If we don't have patterns or models, we feel insecure and think that we cannot "grab" the reality that surrounds us... we construct reality trough patterns and models... of course ...is this the truth? the "real" reality? Ok this goes beyond our reason...this is more located within the philosophical arena...

    Sometimes it happens to me that I feel terribly disoriented when I realize that the English language has not got an institution that rules it as our RAE.... that shows our need for patterns as you said.

    Saludos!
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Phryne said:
    So, why would we invent a language that follows randomness?
    I wouldn't call it randomness. For example, the Spanish word for man is hombre and the word for woman is mujer. They have no morphological relation, even though one is the feminine/masculine equivalent of the other. Compare with "boy" and "girl", niño and niña.

    Is the first pair of words a case of incoherence, and the second pair more logical? I don't think so. All we can say is that in the first example the two words, although related in meaning, are independent in form. The second pair of words is perhaps more "economical", in that there is a common root that represents the general concept of "child", niñ-, and a particle that changes to specify the gender, the suffixes -o, -a. There is a hierarchy in the morphology of the word itself.

    Perhaps patterns like hombre/mujer demand more of our memory, but, on the other hand, a pattern like niñ + o/a is more abstract, and could require a greater degree of intellectual subtlety from the speaker.

    I can envision a scenario where language first emerges spontaneously in prehistorical hominoid populations as largely chaotic and arbitrary, in line with the first example, and is later "grammaticized" as the intellectual capacity of its speakers improves and they begin to reflect about their language and to refine it more deliberately, producing more synthetic patterns like the second example.

    Of course, it could just as well have been the other way around. It all happened so long ago that this ends up being a chicken-and-egg type of conversation. ;)
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Outsider said:
    I wouldn't call it randomness. For example, the Spanish word for man is hombre and the word for woman is mujer. They have no morphological relation, even though one is the feminine/masculine equivalent of the other. Compare with "boy" and "girl", niño and niña.
    Is the first pair of words a case of incoherence, and the second pair more logical? I don't think so. All we can say is that in the first example the two words, although related in meaning, are independent in form. The second pair of words is perhaps more "economical", in that there is a common root that represents the general concept of "child", niñ-, and a particle that changes to specify the gender, the suffixes -o, -a. There is a hierarchy in the morphology of the word itself.
    Perhaps patterns like hombre/mujer demand more of our memory, but, on the other hand, a pattern like niñ + o/a is more abstract, and could require a greater degree of intellectual subtlety from the speaker.
    I was actually thinking about verbs, and considering conjugations. Conjugations follow patterns, and those that don't, possibly used to. So I don't think languages are random at all and that is my point. Regardless of some non-economic forms, they are still coherent.
    I can envision a scenario where language first emerges in prehistorical hominoid populations as spontaneous, largely chaotic and arbitrary, in line with the first example, and is later "grammaticized" as the intellectual capacity of the speakers improves and they begin to reflect about their language and to refine it more consciously, producing more synthetic patterns like the second example.
    Of course, it could just as well have been the other way around. It all happened so long ago that this ends up being a chicken-and-egg type of conversation.
    Of course! There's no way to know how the first type of language was. All we know is what we can speak today and the fact that some primates can communicate very well if a predator is in the sky or on the ground (although that's not a language yet). So, when did it begin and how? Who knows!

    saludos :)
     

    Phryne

    Senior Member
    Argieland--Esp/Eng
    Outsider said:
    Although here's an interesting article: The Origins of Language...
    That article is interesting, indeed. It does a nice interdisciplinary compilation of short analysis of the origin of language; however, I disagree in a couple of minor statements and I think that some statements contradict each other.

    It states that: “In a series of articles, Dr. Bickerton has argued that humans may have been speaking proto-language, essentially the use of words without syntax, as long as two million years ago.

    * My answer: After 2million years ago, Homo erectus appeared, which is the ancestor of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals.

    Then says: “Experts offered conflicting views on whether Neanderthals could speak. Sustained attempts to teach apes language generated more controversy than illumination.”

    * Me: It is no clear how much Neanderthals spoke, but they must have spoken something. First and most obvious reason is that we are already assuming that H. erectus spoke, so, their descendants must have spoken as well, duh. Second, their glottis is not too different from ours. Third, Neanderthals buried their dead, hunted large games and had material culture. Logically speaking, all these require some sort of language.

    Finally, it says: “Then, some 50,000 years ago, some profound change took place. (...) Dr. Richard Klein of Stanford argues that the suite of innovations reflects some specific neural change that occurred around that time

    * Me: 50,000 years ago was the Paleolithic Revolution. Almost no archaeologist, anthropologist, etc, regards this revolution to biological reasons (neural change). Fully modern humans were as we are today, biologically speaking, since some time before 100,000 years ago.

    Referring to the !Kung, “But they still used the same set of crude stone tools as their forebears and their archaic human contemporaries, the Neanderthals of Europe. (…)Then, some 50,000 years ago, some profound change took place.”, which later refers to it as a “neural change”.

    * Me: This is very dangerous. The writer claimed that Neanderthals probably didn’t speak and that some time 50,000 years ago there’s been a “neural change” that lead to the Upper Paleolithic Revolution. Is he implying that the !Kung didn’t participate in this “neural” change? We are talking about modern people here … I find this extremely insulting, don’t you?

    I can’t argue with much of the rest, but it seems to me that he juxtapose many articles without really checking if they are contradictory or not. Just consider that later in the section called “Babbling and Pidgins Hint at First Tongue” it describes primate communication possibly similar to an earlier form of today's languages. Does the writer consider that Homo erectus spoke and primates have communication skills but Neanderthals didn’t? Is he comparing modern !Kung with supposedly “language-less”, not-experiencing-the-Paleolithic-Revolution Neanderthals? Am I just missing the point?

    saludos :)
     
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