Morphological leveling

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In linguistics, morphological leveling is the generalization of an inflection across a paradigm or between words.[1] For example, the extension of the form is to persons such as I is and they is in some dialects of English is leveling, by analogy with a more frequent form, as is the reanalysis of English strong verbs as weak verbs, such as bode becoming bided or swoll becoming swelled. Another example is the way almost all the original English plural suffixes have disappeared, as a result of which there is only one general plural marker in contemporary English: -s.

When a language becomes less synthetic, this is often a matter of morphological leveling. An example of this is the conjugation of English verbs, which has become almost unchanging today (see also null morpheme), thus contrasting sharply for example with Latin, where one verb has dozens of forms, each one expressing a different aspect.

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  1. ^ Ishtla Singh, 'The History of English', (Hodder Education: London, 2005), p. 27