9

The basic answer is "because there are". Languages work the way languages work: we can explain how something has come about in a language, but why questions are nearly always unanswerable. Your question is about two different things: the kinds of grammatical distinction made in a language (such as plural, or objective case) and the mechanism by which these ...


9

There are plenty of languages that do what you are looking for. In linguistic typology, languages that encode grammatical functions (such as tense) as separate words are called "isolating" (one mnemonic that I use is "they isolate the different meanings into different words"). Those separate words are frequently referred to as "...


8

In fact, alif ا does not mean anything particular and that differs it from the rest of the Arabic letters. It is a kind of a service letter, now it is a support for hamza, now it is written as a horizontal line as in alif maddah آ, now it looks like a dotless yā’ ى, alif maqṣūrah, now it is not written at all (although it should have been there) as in ذٰلِكَ ...


7

I'm surprised nobody mentioned the concept of grammaticalization in this context. Asking why in linguistics is almost never a good question. But grammaticalization can certainly help explain how. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammaticalization). The process through which words become morphemes is described as the following cline: content word → ...


7

The forum linked to in the question provides the key points that answer the question. Irregular forms like those asociated with irregular verbs occur frequently in a language. They have to occur frequently because if they did not, they would disappear, becoming regular. A vivid example of this principle is provided by the strong verbs in Germanic languages ...


7

As curiousdannii said, it's a type of inflection. In Latin, adjectives were traditionally classified as nouns (nomina; specifically nomina adjectiva); the nouns that weren't adjectives were called "substantives" (nomina substantiva). Latin adjectives and substantives are very similar morphologically, so it makes sense to group them together when talking ...


7

The short answer: centuries of use of Old Church Slavonic instead of Latin or Romanian as a written language BUT note there is a tendency towards analytic tenses in spoken languages across Europe. The long answer: Questions of the form "Why?" in historical linguistics are not necessarily answerable, but we can try. One theory could be that there was some ...


7

Historical accident. Roman (and Ancient Greek) grammarians seem to have thought of verb paradigms somewhat like noun paradigms: the forms of puella "girl" are puella, puellae, etc, and the forms of amō "love" are amō, amās, etc. Rather than listing out all the forms, you can refer to the whole paradigm by its first element: the nominative ...


6

As usual in language evolution, having two auxiliaries wasn't a goal, things just happened this way (and in fact the long-term evolution is towards a single auxiliary). There is an article in French Wikipedia that explains how the compound past tenses evolved in French (and to various extents in other Romance languages). My answer here is mostly a summary ...


6

I'm not sure about conjuation in specific, but inflection of adverbs is definitely possible. There are numerous examples in various languages: English: can man travel faster than light German: kann man schneller als das Licht reisen Serbo-Croatian: da li može čov(j)ek putovati brže od sv(j)etla In all three of these languages, the bolded word is an ...


6

Classical Arabic may provide an example: see section 6.1.3 of Brame 1970. His account is that the affirmative imperative is formed by truncating the subject prefix ta- from the 2nd person jussive, and then other rules may apply as appropriate (notably, epenthesis of a harmonizing vowel if the stem has an initial cluster, so /ta-ktub/ → ktub → [ʔuktub] "write!...


6

More theory than history for you, but one take on it: Language evolution is an eternal tug-of-war between ease of articulation and information density. We want to say things quickly and learn how to say them easily, but we also want to be able to communicate with nuance. English is a fairly extreme case. For regular verbs, we have only two forms across all ...


5

First, it is important to be clear on what "most basic form" as described above covers. One notion is "structurally simplest", that is, "having the fewest added things". The other is "phonologically best for predicting other variants". Mixtec seems to qualify as an example of the future being "most basic" because (a) the future has no prefixes or suffixes, (...


5

Such a thing generally doesn't exist, since it wouldn't be useful. For languages with complicated verbal morphology, such a list would take up several volumes without really communicating much. In Lingála, for example, a back-of-the-envelope calculation says there are over 72,000 morphologically distinct finite forms for each verb! (*) For comparison, this ...


5

I don't think verbs are more confusing per se; instead, verbs tend to have more forms than nouns do. The reason for this comes from the role of verbs versus nouns in sentences, what kind of semantic distinctions are marked in what kind of clauses, and the "centrality" of nouns vs. verbs in certain kinds of clauses. Verbs are essential in ...


4

It is because high-frequency words are less likely to be affected by paradigmatic levelling.


4

Your question seems to assume that languages are the way they are because of conscious design by speakers. This isn't true -- speakers don't have the option to "make [the language] simpler" or "make it easier for learning". Sure, it's true that getting rid of irregular inflections like am-are-is would make English easier to learn, but no one's in a position ...


4

What you're describing is the very essence of the difference between inflectional and agglutinating language. Thus there are many languages that separate person from number, gender, tense, etc. The person/number syncretism distinction alone is captured in WALS: http://wals.info/feature/29A#2/16.6/148.5. In Europe, Turkish, Finnish, Hungarian and Basque all ...


4

In the Northeast Caucasian languages, nouns are divided into classes, that category is analogous to the Indo-European and Semitic genders. Let's take Archi, a Northeast Caucasian language. It has 4 noun classes: I. male, II. female, III. inanimate objects and adult animals, IV. abstract nouns and baby animals. Since Archi is an ergative language, the very ...


4

For the German language there is a form called Erikativ or Inflektiv which is just the isolated verb stem. It is arguably simpler than the imperative singular because for some strong verbs there is a vowel change in the imperative singular (e.g., treten, tritt, stem tret "to kick"; geben, gib, stem geb "to give"). The Erikativ is predominantly used in ...


4

The systems employed in Germanic and Slavic result in part from inheritance from Proto-Indo-European, with changes (such as the loss of agreement in Norwegian, massive reduction in English, and the additional of gender in Russian via the past being formed with a nominal construction). We don't know for sure where verb agreement came from in the proto-...


3

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] ...


3

This is not unique to the French language and not really caused by the Latin origins of the language. German and Dutch have the same thing. They use "have" as auxiliary verb for most verbs and "are" as auxiliary verb for some. As stated before, there is some logic behind it. Verbs that describe something that you actively do use "have". Verbs that describe ...


3

Think of language as a code that humans have agreed on in order to communicate with each other. A speaker encodes a thought into the language and the hearer decodes it to understand the thought of the other. In this scenario, there are two main forces competing with each other: the desire to be efficient (use as little time and effort as possible) the ...


3

It would be βεβλέπαται. The [n] between consonants would be syllabic, and syllabic [n] went to [a] in Greek. This is the origin of the -αται 3pl. ending in the forms you mention, and also of 3pl. -ατο in the pluperfect. In some verbs these endings were retained, especially outside of Attic (e.g. Homer or Herodotus); but in Attic, these forms were replaced by ...


3

As I used to tell my students, Verbs have more fun Every clause has a verb form in it, and there are always more things you can do to a verb than to a noun. In Latin, for instance, nouns are marked (or "declined", into declensions) for person, number, gender, and case. Verbs, however, are marked (or "conjugated" into conjugations) for ...


2

"what about am/is/are? Is this for phonetic harmony? What about third person singular verbs?" One kind of answer one could give to this is psycholinguistic: what use do people make of such aspects of language? The answer is: plenty, depending on the language; not so much for specifically am/is/are. During language processing, they are often used to inform ...


2

Smyth (134b) says: "Verbs in -εω never (in Attic) add -ν to the 3 sing. of the contracted form: εὖ ἐποίει αὐτόν he treated him well. But ᾔει went and pluperfects (as ᾔδει knew) may add ν." It can, however, appear in uncontracted forms: Herodotus has e.g. ἐδόκεεν, ἐκόσμεεν, etc.


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