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Languages with declension and conjugation usually have multiple declension and conjugation classes.

If one were to invent a language with declension or conjugation, one would probably introduce only one single set of endings. However, the natural evolution of languages has ended up in producing languages with multiple classes.

What is the origin of such a distinction? Does the evolution of languages go in the direction of higher distinction (from one class to multiple ones), or to lesser distinction (from many classes to just a few classes).

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The development of arbitrary morphological classification results from innumerable factors that obscure the relationship between form and function. For example, there may be a sound change that developed in the language that raises word-final mid vowels. Roots might arbitrarily end with /i/ vs. /e/, and there could be a rule of palatalization where /k/ → [č] / __ i. With the addition of the final vowel raising rule, you can get new sequences like [muki] which don't undergo that rule (because originally they were [muke]). Inflectional classes of this type then result from the impossibility of knowing (without doing the historical reconstruction) which words had /e/ and which had /i/, and thus which behave one way vs. another.

There are non-phonological causes as well, where an inflectional affix only combines with a certain semantically-defined class of verbs (e.g. a perfective affix only combines with stative verbs). New stative verbs may be added to the language, and yet don't allow that affix (perhaps because they are basaed on a noun) -- thus you have verb classes where you have to sort roots as to allowing vs. not allowing this affix -- conjugation classes.

In short, the basic reason is that the relationship between form and function is not always self-evident, and therefore it may be easier or necessary to treat the relation as a somewhat arbitrary list.

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