Speculation on the future of English (and other languages)

By Seraphinus, in 'Other Languages', Jun 29, 2017.

  1. Iáson Cívis Illústris

    • Civis Illustris
    Interesting. I always think exactly the reverse when learning other languages - 'Thank goodness I'm a native English speaker and don't have to learn English! How can anyone learn a language with such stupid spelling rules?'


    This is true to a very great extent, but I have heard convincing arguments that some cross-linguistic notion of 'simplicity' in non-relative terms can exist. It is possible to argue that, say, analytic constructions are 'simpler' than synthetic ones, and that regular patterns are 'simpler' than irregular ones. Equally, it seems to be true that as connectivity increases and a language gains a larger number of non-isolated speakers, languages become 'simpler', eg. favouring analytic and regular constructions. An example might be the development of the Greek 'koine' (vs Attic, say), at a time when the Greek world was becoming increasingly connected and unified. Indeed, some of the general trends in languages over the past thousand years have been towards 'simpler' forms, presumably because of increasing globalisation and connectivity, which may be what Pacifica was referring to.
  2. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    I'm not so sure about that. I don't see an objective reason why a synthetic language is more complicated than an analytical one.

    It's true that as languages gain enormous amounts of L2 speakers they often lose irregularities. At the very least in the dialect(s) the L2 speakers come to speak.
    -

    English has a fairly elaborate tense system (relative to Georgian and Russian at least) and has features such as separation of dropped relative pronouns from the prepositions they go with- such as in "...the dialect(s) the L2 speakers come to speak." It has a long list of phrasal verbs such as ''put up with'' or ''get along with''. Verbs like ''get'' have a wide range of unexpected meanings. Not to mention phonological quirks such as /ɹ/ or /θ/, or the vagaries of English spelling.

    I wouldn't rank it as especially difficult- in the sense of having an unexpectedly large amount of cross-linguistically rare properties- but I wouldn't rank it as particularly easy either.
  3. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Why keep irregularities when more regular forms could be just as easily understanded?
  4. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    No particular reason. They're sometimes dropped even by native speakers.
  5. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I wasn't really asking in earnest. Just wanted to place my small "understanded" joke. I remember someone using that form in a thread title some years ago. The title was "Not understanded words", I believe, and what they didn't understand were Latin future participles.
    Imperfacundus likes this.
  6. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    Haha, I didn't even notice that.
  7. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Case in point, I guess. It was so easily "understanded" that it wasn't even noticed. :D
  8. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    Though I may have made statements in the past about some languages being easier than others (and I believe that's the case), in this instance Impy wasn't responding to me, but to Interprete.
  9. Dantius and Iáson like this.
  10. interprete Member

    I agree with Pacifica, as a learner of English I used to see French as overly complex, and certainly more complex than English. That said I don't really see how this relates to my point, maybe we are not on the same page. Obviously languages are in constant flux, that was precisely my point. However I don't see how one can deny that constantly adding new exceptions to rules that become applide inconsistently do not make any language more complex as opposed to simpler, which was your initial argument.

    It doesn't seem true in French. If you take conjugations for example, mistaken (and thus, potentially adopted as irregular forms when they become accepted as norm) conjugation forms pop up quite often, due to confusion with similar but different patterns, creating even more deviant forms on top of the already existing irregular verb forms (e.g. ils croivent*, vous metteriez*, and many more I can't think of off the top of my head).
    Last edited by interprete, Oct 6, 2018

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