In English, the verb "do" can be a transitive verb whose object stands for an action. So, we English speakers can "do a somersault," "do a back flip," and "do a cartwheel." The productivity of this construction is limited, but it does suggest a question: are there any languages in which a small and (synchronically) fixed inventory of verbs is used with other parts of speech (for example, nouns that stand for actions or states) to create phrasal equivalents to the many verbs that are found in most languages?
Yes: Japanese, Farsi, and Basque are well-known examples. Japanese verbs (and adjectives) are closed class, with new verbal senses almost exclusively expressed by “do verbal noun”, as in 勉強する benkyō suru (studying do) for “study”. This is conspicuous in Japanese due to the large number of Sino-Japanese words, with verbal senses expressed in this way.
Not as extreme as Jingulu, admittedly, but a bit better-known.
Note: Japanese verbs have opened slightly in recent years, where the suffix 〜る -ru is added informally as a verbifier, primarily to recent borrowed words, but this is both recent and marginal: it is not found in the Sino-Japanese lexicon. The best-known and oldest example is サボる sabo-ru “cut class, cut work”, from French sabotage, which dates from circa 1920, and this appears to be the model for the more recent ones.
If this word-formation pattern persists, this may be an interesting case of a word class opening up, or may instead re-analyzing 〜る as a separate element, similar to existing する suru “do”, which is the existing verb used in these constructions.
Certain languages have a very restricted number of verbs. For example, the aboriginal language Jingulu spoken in Australia has only three verbs: do, go, and come. Igbo (Ibo), a language of approximately 18 million speakers in Nigeria, does not have verbs at all. Instead, Igbo uses clusters termed ‘inherent complement verbs’ (ICV) that have the structure –gbá plus a noun. The root gbá is the only root in Igbo “devoid of meaning”, and the most productive one (Chinedu Uchechukwu, p.c.; see also Uchechukwu 2004). Here are some examples of Igbo clusters: –gbá egwú ‘dance a dance’ — egwú ‘dance’, –gbá igwè ‘ride a bicycle’ — igwè ‘bicycle’, –gbá ákụ́/egbè ‘shoot’ — àkụ́ ‘arrow’/égbè ‘gun’, gbá ụkwụ́ ‘kick’ — ụ́kwụ ‘foot’, –gbá ọsọ ‘run a race’ — ọsọ ‘race’, –gbá motò ‘travel with a vehicle’ — motò ‘vehicle’, etc.
With regard to this statement: "Igbo (Ibo), a language of approximately 18 million speakers in Nigeria, does not have verbs at all." There is a serious misunderstanding somewhere. Please note the following groups of verbs in the Igbo language
(1) a limited number of simple verb roots
(2) a combination of these "simple verb roots" to form "compound verbs"
(3) a combination of a simple verb root with a suffix to form a "complex verb"
(4) a combination of a simple verb root with a noun/prepositional phrase schematically summarized as [VERB+NP/PP]
It is the last group that is called the INHERENT COMPLEMENT VERB structure and which were cited by Soshen above. Many Igbo verbs are formed from these three, but the inherent complement structure is the most productive. The earlier investigators of the structure noted this fact of ONE verb root combining with MANY NP/PPs to form what in an average European language would be expressed through a single verb, for example –gbá ọsọ simply means ‘run', but also includes 'run a race’. For this particular reason, the earlier investigators then called these formations from one verb the clusters of that verb. That is how the name of, for example, -gba cluster arose referring to ALL the inherent complement verbs formed by the verb root -gba as belonging to the -gba cluster. Each verb root therefore was understood as having its own cluster of inherent complement verbs formed from it.
Department of Linguuistics
Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka
There is a term for this, namely "light verb", which may help you to Google examples. This is actually separate from the question of verbs being a closed class. Such constructions are common in Kurdish and Indic languages (and Farsi per Nils von Barth, so see this for focus on Indic), and some Bantu languages. Korean starkly contrasts with Bantu languages in the potential for loans. Apparently Korean absolutely resists borrowing verbs, but Bantu languages so not, though both have light verb constructions. So I think the question of being "closed class" is different from having relatively open light verb constructions.
There are many languages wherein the part of speech category 'verb' (inflecting for person-number and TAM) is a closed class. These languages are common in north Australia, some having as few as five verbs and others up to 250. In New Guinea this is a common feature of languages of the Trans New Guinea language family, which typically have 60–150 verbs.
Verbs with closed verb classes make up for this lack by having large, open classes of complex predicates created by combining verbs with other parts of speech. Many north Australian languages have an open POS 'coverb' (sometimes called 'preverb'), which is a non-inflecting lexeme that combines with an inflecting verb to form a specific semantic unit. The Trans New Guinea language Kalam has an open class POS known as 'verb adjunct' which operates in a similar way to the north Australian coverbs, combining with inflecting verbs to provide specific meanings. Kalam also employs a rich system of serial verb constructions, which provide another way of representing events.
Pawley (2006) provides an overview of complex predicates in Jaminjung (north Australia) and Kalam (Trans New Guinea family) and compares them with English, finding striking similarities in regard to the frequency and meaning of particular concepts expressed by inflecting verbs.
Like what Nils has said , this too is pretty common in the korean language.. due to welll.. large amounts of sino words imported from chinese.
the korean equivalent of "to do study"
study do practice do. 공부하다. 연습하다.
Edit: i was told by curiousdanni that the above mentioned might not constitute as a close verb
Turkish has lots of those kind of verbs: kılmak, etmek, eylemek, yapmak, olmak, saymak. They can be used for all kinds of nouns, but especially they are used with loan words to indicate verbal form of it. Like: farz etmek - to assume. (farz is an arabic loanword meaning assuming)
Although it should be noted that most of the loanwords have Turkic equivalent. But both loan and Turkic words are used for different situation.
Hardly any language in modern times will have an entire verb lexicon to be a closed class (or more accurately, a finite set) semantically and pragmatically. Just like nouns, it's just not in the nature of verbs to be so.
In Yorùbá, there is a closed class of cannonical verbs only identifiable by morphology, namely a CV structure (e.g. bà, bá, ge, sè, rí, kà, gbó, etc... note that [gb] is one sound, a voiced labio-velar plosive). Accounting for the tone on V and possible C+V combinations, they total 540 (Déchaine, 2015).
These are probably the first ever predicates of basic states and events in the language from a diachronic point of view. They are highly and richly polysemous as well as combinatorial (with nouns, with other verbs in a serial verb construction, etc), which can cause a lot of headache for a foreign learner.
The issue with the Igbo language is totally wrong, as has been clarified for us by Chinedu Uchechukwu above.