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Re: THEORY: Practical limit of inflection complexity?

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  • MorphemeAddict
    Aren t Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish all able to use a lot of suffixes at once? E.g., Finnish tottelemattomuudestansa = because of his disobedience is
    Message 1 of 10 , Jan 20, 2013
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      Aren't Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish all able to use a lot of suffixes at
      once?
      E.g., Finnish "tottelemattomuudestansa" = 'because of his disobedience' is
      tottele-ma-ttom-uude-sta-nsa (obey + deverbal suffix, used to form
      action/result nouns from verbs + -less + quality noun from adjective +
      elative singular + 3rd person possessive), with five suffixes.

      stevo

      On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 5:53 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>wrote:

      > 2013/1/18 Patrick Dunn <pwdunn@...>:
      > > That's a really good question. I'm not sure how one would begin to
      > answer
      > > it in any sort of analytic way, but when you consider things like Ancient
      > > Greek or Sanskrit, which have frankly *InSANE* amounts of inflection that
      > > people actually seemed to use (judging, at least, from the writing -- the
      > > spoken language may have been less complex in practice),
      >
      > And that's the core of my question. In Portuguese, there are a lot of
      > verbal forms that people rarely use in spoken language. I have heard
      > also that German people don't use the genitive case anymore and the
      > French diglossia has been widely discussed in this list. Maybe there's
      > some "people valve" to expel excessive inflection.
      >
      > > it seems like a
      > > pretty large range of permissible inflection. And, it seems to me, with
      > no
      > > evidence whatsoever but a hunch, that the more agglutinating rather than
      > > inflecting a language is, the more such things it might support.
      > >
      > > (An ancient Greek verb is potentially conjugated for three persons, three
      > > numbers, one present tense, two past tenses, one future tense, the
      > perfect
      > > aspect, three voices [active, passive, middle], three moods [indicative,
      > > optative, subjunctive] and a full range of participles, infinitives, and
      > > imperatives in most of these tenses, aspects, and voices . . . and so
      > on.)
      >
      > How many of them are permitted in Modern Greek?
      >
      > >
      > >
      > > On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 9:37 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...
      > >wrote:
      > >
      > >> I have noticed that many languages have some inflections that are not
      > >> really used in everyday speech, being substituted with others (what
      > >> reduces the total number of inflection) or with more analytical
      > >> structures.
      > >>
      > >> Do you think there is a limit of the number of word inflection people
      > >> on the streets can deal with?
      > >>
      > >> Até mais!
      > >>
      > >> Leonardo
      > >>
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --
      > > Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
      > > order from Finishing Line
      > > Press<
      > http://www.finishinglinepress.com/NewReleasesandForthcomingTitles.htm>
      > > and
      > > Amazon<
      > http://www.amazon.com/Second-Person-Patrick-Dunn/dp/1599249065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324342341&sr=8-2
      > >.
      >
    • Js Bangs
      ... I think it s pretty clear that the inflectional complexity of Sanskrit, Greek, etc. was present in the spoken language at some point---otherwise what was
      Message 2 of 10 , Jan 20, 2013
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        On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 4:53 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>wrote:

        > 2013/1/18 Patrick Dunn <pwdunn@...>:
        > > That's a really good question. I'm not sure how one would begin to
        > answer
        > > it in any sort of analytic way, but when you consider things like Ancient
        > > Greek or Sanskrit, which have frankly *InSANE* amounts of inflection that
        > > people actually seemed to use (judging, at least, from the writing -- the
        > > spoken language may have been less complex in practice),
        >
        > And that's the core of my question. In Portuguese, there are a lot of
        > verbal forms that people rarely use in spoken language. I have heard
        > also that German people don't use the genitive case anymore and the
        > French diglossia has been widely discussed in this list. Maybe there's
        > some "people valve" to expel excessive inflection.
        >
        >
        I think it's pretty clear that the inflectional complexity of Sanskrit,
        Greek, etc. was present in the spoken language at some point---otherwise
        what was the point of initially writing them down that way? Furthermore,
        there are other living, spoken languages whose morphological complexity
        equals or exceeds that of the old IE languages. Navajo and Greenlandic come
        immediately to mind here.

        The Indo-European languages have been trending towards morphological
        simplicity for several millenia, now, which explains why the familiar
        European languages are all somewhat simpler in their spoken forms than
        their written forms. But this is by no means universal or required.
      • Leonardo Castro
        ... But do these morphemes change its form depend on the particular word? For instance, the -less morpheme ttom is always spoken this way or can have several
        Message 3 of 10 , Jan 30, 2013
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          2013/1/20 MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...>:
          > Aren't Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish all able to use a lot of suffixes at
          > once?
          > E.g., Finnish "tottelemattomuudestansa" = 'because of his disobedience' is
          > tottele-ma-ttom-uude-sta-nsa (obey + deverbal suffix, used to form
          > action/result nouns from verbs + -less + quality noun from adjective +
          > elative singular + 3rd person possessive), with five suffixes.
          >
          > stevo

          But do these morphemes change its form depend on the particular word?
          For instance, the -less morpheme "ttom" is always spoken this way or
          can have several forms?

          [...]

          2013/1/20 Js Bangs <jaspax@...>:
          > On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 4:53 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>wrote:
          >
          > I think it's pretty clear that the inflectional complexity of Sanskrit,
          > Greek, etc. was present in the spoken language at some point---otherwise
          > what was the point of initially writing them down that way? Furthermore,
          > there are other living, spoken languages whose morphological complexity
          > equals or exceeds that of the old IE languages. Navajo and Greenlandic come
          > immediately to mind here.
          >
          > The Indo-European languages have been trending towards morphological
          > simplicity for several millenia, now, which explains why the familiar
          > European languages are all somewhat simpler in their spoken forms than
          > their written forms. But this is by no means universal or required.

          And how do you think this phenomenon happens to IE languages?
        • MorphemeAddict
          ... In this case, -ttom- is the stem; the basic form (nom sg) is -ton . In all three of the ones I mentioned there is also vowel harmony, and Finnish also
          Message 4 of 10 , Jan 30, 2013
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            On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:25 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>wrote:

            > 2013/1/20 MorphemeAddict <lytlesw@...>:
            > > Aren't Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish all able to use a lot of suffixes
            > at
            > > once?
            > > E.g., Finnish "tottelemattomuudestansa" = 'because of his disobedience'
            > is
            > > tottele-ma-ttom-uude-sta-nsa (obey + deverbal suffix, used to form
            > > action/result nouns from verbs + -less + quality noun from adjective +
            > > elative singular + 3rd person possessive), with five suffixes.
            > >
            > > stevo
            >
            > But do these morphemes change its form depend on the particular word?
            > For instance, the -less morpheme "ttom" is always spoken this way or
            > can have several forms?
            >

            In this case, "-ttom-" is the stem; the basic form (nom sg) is "-ton". In
            all three of the ones I mentioned there is also vowel harmony, and Finnish
            also has two different consonant gradations to take into account. The exact
            form depends on the root of the word in most cases. The Finnish genitive
            plural, in particular, has a lot of variability in its forms.

            stevo

            [...]
            >
            > 2013/1/20 Js Bangs <jaspax@...>:
            > > On Sun, Jan 20, 2013 at 4:53 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...
            > >wrote:
            > >
            > > I think it's pretty clear that the inflectional complexity of Sanskrit,
            > > Greek, etc. was present in the spoken language at some point---otherwise
            > > what was the point of initially writing them down that way? Furthermore,
            > > there are other living, spoken languages whose morphological complexity
            > > equals or exceeds that of the old IE languages. Navajo and Greenlandic
            > come
            > > immediately to mind here.
            > >
            > > The Indo-European languages have been trending towards morphological
            > > simplicity for several millenia, now, which explains why the familiar
            > > European languages are all somewhat simpler in their spoken forms than
            > > their written forms. But this is by no means universal or required.
            >
            > And how do you think this phenomenon happens to IE languages?
            >
          • Js Bangs
            ... That is a very good question, and no one really knows the answer. It has been suggested in the past that languages go through waves , oscillating between
            Message 5 of 10 , Jan 31, 2013
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              On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:25 AM, Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>wrote:
              >
              > > The Indo-European languages have been trending towards morphological
              > > simplicity for several millenia, now, which explains why the familiar
              > > European languages are all somewhat simpler in their spoken forms than
              > > their written forms. But this is by no means universal or required.
              >
              > And how do you think this phenomenon happens to IE languages?
              >

              That is a very good question, and no one really knows the answer. It has
              been suggested in the past that languages go through "waves", oscillating
              between the isolating and synthetic poles of the language spectrum over
              thousands of years. Under this theory, Proto-IE was near the maximally
              synthetic pole, and all of its daughter languages have been slowly moving
              towards the isolating pole. Meanwhile, other language families have been
              doing the opposite, moving from isolation to greater synthesis.

              However, no one really believes this theory any more, since there's no real
              explanation to be had of *why* this happens, and there are lots of
              counterexamples. so we're left with the fact that nearly all of the
              Indo-European languages demonstrate this trend, and we don't know why.

              Nonetheless, there are still lots of non-IE languages that have gotten
              *more* morphologically complex over time, and lots of languages with
              complexity comparable or greater than that of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, et al.

              --
              JS Bangs
              jaspax@...
              http://jsbangs.wordpress.com

              "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle" -Philo of
              Alexandria
            • Jörg Rhiemeier
              Hallo conlangers! ... Also, the 19th-century analytic/agglutinating/fusional typology is better applied to subsystems of a language rather than to whole
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 1, 2013
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                Hallo conlangers!

                On Friday 01 February 2013 04:47:42 Js Bangs wrote:

                > On Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:25 AM, Leonardo Castro
                <leolucas1980@...>wrote:
                > > > The Indo-European languages have been trending towards morphological
                > > >
                > > > simplicity for several millenia, now, which explains why the familiar
                > > > European languages are all somewhat simpler in their spoken forms than
                > > > their written forms. But this is by no means universal or required.
                > >
                > > And how do you think this phenomenon happens to IE languages?
                >
                > That is a very good question, and no one really knows the answer. It has
                > been suggested in the past that languages go through "waves", oscillating
                > between the isolating and synthetic poles of the language spectrum over
                > thousands of years. Under this theory, Proto-IE was near the maximally
                > synthetic pole, and all of its daughter languages have been slowly moving
                > towards the isolating pole. Meanwhile, other language families have been
                > doing the opposite, moving from isolation to greater synthesis.
                >
                > However, no one really believes this theory any more, since there's no real
                > explanation to be had of *why* this happens, and there are lots of
                > counterexamples. so we're left with the fact that nearly all of the
                > Indo-European languages demonstrate this trend, and we don't know why.

                Also, the 19th-century "analytic/agglutinating/fusional" typology
                is better applied to subsystems of a language rather than to whole
                languages. There are many languages which combine all three. For
                example, Spanish is widely considered a fusional language, but while
                this holds for its verbs, the nouns express number agglutinatively
                and case analytically.

                > Nonetheless, there are still lots of non-IE languages that have gotten
                > *more* morphologically complex over time, and lots of languages with
                > complexity comparable or greater than that of Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, et
                > al.

                Yep. Just take a grand tour of North America, and you will find
                lots of indigenous languages that leave Sanskrit in the dust when
                it comes to morphological complexity.

                --
                ... brought to you by the Weeping Elf
                http://www.joerg-rhiemeier.de/Conlang/index.html
                "Bêsel asa Éam, a Éam atha cvanthal a cvanth atha Éamal." - SiM 1:1
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