Talk:Closed class

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Sorry, but this isnt clear at all to me.

Are closed class words precisely all words in the categories listed (auxiliary verb, conjunction, determiner, preposition, pronoun)? Or are these just examples?

Yes, Jsherring, these are the categories normally given as closed class words. All the auxiliary verbs, for example, can be listed as there are only so many of them and they are not added to, and in this way the list of auxiliary verbs may be considered closed.

On the other hand open class morphemes such as nouns, adjectives, main verbs, adverbs and interjections are open precisely because the are being continuously added to by new words created, adopted and adapted from various sources, such as foreign word adaptations; scientific, technological and medical usages; and of course in and cult words.

I am sorry, I can see now that the article needs some refining, which I will attend to ASAP. Dieter Simon 01:03, 14 Sep 2003 (UTC)


I am afraid you really will have to explain why this talk page constitutes a countering systemic bias and is included in the Category: CSB articles. Dieter Simon 23:53, 24 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Bantu language adjectives[edit]

In the Bantu_languages adjectives form a closed class. Ur-Bantu/Proto-Bantu/Kintu had only one adjective "-kulu" "big", most other qualifiers were relatives. Relatives are an open class and since relatives can be derived from verbs (as relative clauses) they are potentially infinite. How do you distinguish between the 2? Through the concords, of course! Many Bantu languages have only a handfull of adjectives. Others, like Kiswahili, have none. As you can see, there is more to linguistics than English and this article should reflect other views. Please tell me of your responses on my talk page. User:ZyXoas. 20:04, 17 March 2006 (UTC)

ZyXoas, you are quite right about this issue. Are you aware of the page Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias/open tasks/Linguistics? It was started exactly in order to eliminate the emphasis on English/Indo-European in our linguistic articles. In fact, Closed-class word has been on there for quite some time now. (And that's the answer to Dieter Simon's question re: the CSB category; although the category isn't in use anymore now). — mark 09:38, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
As I replied to ZyXoas in his User talk page (as he asked me to do originally)there is absolutely no reason why he can't use his expertise in Bantu languages and add content of this knowledge to the article. I, as an English-speaker, would not object in the slightest, if that part of closed-class words (or open-class words) content pertaining to Bantu languages were being added.
As to his contention that there is more to linguistics than English, I was in full agreement with him.
Well, you saw what I wrote, as you yourself added your remarks to our exchange of views. So, please, it goes without saying that I invite you, who know more about the lesser known languages, to add everything that needs to be included to make this a real knowledge centre. Don't just complain about the preponderance of the English/French/German, etc. languages, make yourselves heard and include everything that is relevant to closed-class words in the African languages.
If, however, you are saying that speakers of other languages should curtail their contributions for the sake of balance, that would have to be considered unreasonable. Please, this is too important and all languages should be included if their speakers have relevant things to say about these languages.
Dieter Simon 01:44, 21 March 2006 (UTC)
Dieter, I am most definitely not saying that the contributions of anyone should be curtailed for the sake of balance. It is up to anyone and everyone to decide what they want to write about. WP:CSB merely offers some pointers on how to become aware of, and remedy, certain 'systemic biases' that result from this statement of principles, something that is necessary if we really want to be a truly international compendium of encyclopedic knowledge. So I think I was saying that speakers of any language should be aware of the scope of the enterprise they are taking part in. — mark 18:56, 22 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, I fully agree. Dieter Simon 23:44, 22 March 2006 (UTC)

Why "closed-class word" and not "closed word class"?[edit]

Why is the title of this article "closed-class word" and not "closed word class"? It seems that the only way to define "closed-class word" is to say "it's a word that belongs to a closed word class"; it's "closed word class" that's the interesting, explainable concept (as evidenced by the fact that it's indeed the concept that the article explains). Is there some reason I'm not thinking of? Ruakh 06:27, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

The way I see it, it's "closed class" (not 'closed word class') that's the interesting, explainable concept, and this is precisely what is put before "word" here. — mark 08:59, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't understand. Isn't "closed word class" synonymous with "closed class"? And "closed-class word" means something completely different (since it refers to a word, not the class). Ruakh 11:24, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
No, it's not. The linguistic term is "closed-class" or "closed class", occasionally "closed-system" but never "closed word". The first example you might look up is the PDF website [1].
Other sources are the Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics and the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar who have "closed class" (or "open class" on the other hand). It is not the word that is closed but the class of words that is closed or open. You can/can't add any more words to the class. Dieter Simon 22:58, 22 May 2006 (UTC)
There is no "closed word" or "open word". Dieter Simon
I think you're confused. In "closed word class", "closed" is an adjective modifying the phrase "word class" (in which "word" acts as a modifier for "class"). As you say, there's no such thing as a "closed word"; but there is such a thing as a "closed word class": it's a word class that is closed. (For that matter, I'd be fine with giving this article the title "closed class"; my objection is simply to "closed-class word", where "word" is the head and "closed-class" is a modifier for it, since the article isn't about closed-class words: it's about the closed classes themselves.) Ruakh 02:58, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
I don't feel as strongly about this issue as you Ruakh, but I see your point, and I wouldn't object to this article being moved to Closed class or probably Closed class (linguistics). — mark 07:20, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
That's fine, yes, either "closed class" or "closed class (linguistics)" is perfectly alright.
I think where the confusion has arisen was with the meanings of "closed class" and "open class" on the one hand, and "word class" on the other hand. "Closed class" refers to a class of words to which no new words are normally added, or very rarely added, because the number of words with a particular meaning are complete or nearly complete, and are not added to, such as the article "the". You only have one definite article in English and that is "the". No other word has been added to the definite article class. It took hundreds of years to change from the archaic "ye" to crystallize into "the". Therefore there is no other term equivalent to "the", and that kind of thing is meant by "closed class". A closed class has a relatively small number of words and consists of grammatic terms such as prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, and determiners.
In other words, can anyone say when we had any prepositions such as "for", "to", "against" added in the vocabulary of the English language? Or pronouns such as "she", "it", "his"? Or conjunctions such as "and", "or", "when"? These words have been in use for a long time and nothing has been added to them. That is why they belong to the "closed-class" kind of words. In contrast, "open class" words are words which belong to a class which is continuously added to in usage, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives or adverbs, through either borrowing from other languages such "to strafe" as a particular type of "firing on people", compounding such as "homework" which originally consisted of two words "home" and "work", exclamations such as "hi", "hello", "arrgh" which are continuously being coined, snd therefore belong to an "open class". A great source of the latter type of exclamation are comics where particular kinds of noises generate new words all the time.
A "word class" on the other hand is merely the class of words a word belongs to, such as a verb, noun, determiner, adjective, adverb, preposition, pronoun, conjunction, etc. A great article discussing this is "Word Classes" ( So, Ruakh, not quite so confused as you think, eh?
I noticed you changed the "open-class word to "open-word class", wrongly, for the above reasons. It needs to be changed back to "Open-class word. Badly. It is the opposite to "closed-class word". The way it is "open word class" is completely meaningless. It is not an "open word" it is an "open class". Dieter Simon 23:43, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
1. You speak of "the meanings of 'closed class' and 'open class' on the one hand, and 'word class' on the other hand", and then use the phrase "class of words" in defining "closed class"; do you mean to suggest that a closed class is a kind of class of words, but not a kind of word class? If so, can you explain the difference you see between a "class of words" and a "word class"? (By the way, note that the "great article discusssing this" that you linked to uses the terms "open word class" and "closed word class".)
2. You say that you "noticed [someone] changed the 'open-class word to 'open-word class'"; I don't suppose you could provide a link to the relevant diff? I can't tell what change you're referring to, or even what article it's in.
3. You reiterate that "It is not an 'open word' it is an 'open class'." I'm doing my best to assume good faith, but since no one is claiming there exists a term "open word," and I've explicitly acknowledged that they're isn't such a term, you seem to be harping on a straw man.
Ruakh 00:57, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Hi Ruakh: Here it is: 04:23 10aug 2005 Ruakh (Open class word moved to Open word class). Was there ever a discussion to that effect. Shouldn't there have been one? Come, come, things should be discussed, shouldn't they?

I know, what you are saying is that open "word" is the adjectival part of the whole term, but what would potential readers be looking for? Open class or open word class? Closed class or closed word class? That is the question. Dieter Simon 02:00, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Indeed. Leaving aside quibbles about the semantics, closed class is the most common term, not 'closed word class'; the words in it are called 'closed class words'. I support moving this to Closed class or Closed class (linguistics), but not to Closed word class as that term is rarely used in this context. — mark 10:37, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Yes, that's right. What concerns me also is that to people who want to find out about closed or open class the term "open word class" would obscure things rather than make clear. It would very probably mislead them into looking for "open word", as it would indicate a class of open words rather than an open class of words. The trouble is once again we in Wikipedia do not think enough of the eventual beneficiary of an encyclopaedia, namely the one who consults it because he/she doesn't know anything about the subject but wants or needs to find out. I don't mean to claim we are know-alls but we should get as close as possible to getting it right. Dieter Simon 13:49, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Re: My moving open class word to open word class: Ah, that's what you mean. For the record, that's completely different from moving open-class word to open-word class (do you really not see the difference?). Perhaps there should have been a discussion, but as the article spoke only of "an open word class," not of "an open class word," it seemed pretty clear that the title was a strange typo.

Re: Confusing the reader: I really think that if a reader can't be bothered to read the first sentence of an article and see that an open word class is a kind of word class, then said reader is beyond help. But if you really think the terms "open word class" and "closed word class" are confusing, then that's fine; we can work around them.

At any rate, since it seems like everyone is okay with the title closed class, even if it's no one's top choice, I'm going to go ahead and make that move (and similarly with open class).

Ruakh 18:17, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Many thanks, Ruakh, it is appreciated. The trouble with readers who are quite new to a subject but need or want to know, they don't always know where to start and it can be quite overwhelming. That's the feeling I had looking at the Parameter article. You may be perfectly Ok with it, but I found it hard-going. It's that type of thing, I meant. Thanks. Dieter Simon 22:17, 24 May 2006 (UTC)


On the other hand, Japanese has new verbs like サボる saboru and ググる guguru "to google" which are derived from other words without suru. -- pne (talk) 15:15, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

That's a good point - I'm not sure it's justifiable to call Japanese verbs a "closed class" anymore. Thomblake (talk) 14:48, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Grammaticalization generates closed-class words[edit]

Grammaticalization describes a process by which new function words enter languages. Since the many closed classes described here are function word classes, perhaps this article should mention grammaticalization, in addition to more "typical" mechanisms like compounding, inflection, etc. Thoughts? Nbc7 (talk) 01:58, 17 January 2013 (UTC)

Adposition Links[edit]

Hope I'm doing this right: never added to a talk page. Does it make sense that at the moment this part {adpositions (prepositions and postpositions)} has three links, all redirecting to the same page? Would it not make more sense to remove the link from 'prepositions' and 'postpositions' and leave 'adpositions' as a link for the three? SnorlaxMyther (talk) 16:18, 17 May 2014 (UTC)


I suggest merging both this and its sister article into Part of speech (which is the redirect target for Word class). Please comment at Talk:Open class (linguistics)#Merge. W. P. Uzer (talk) 08:34, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

Last call for objections - see the final thread on the other talk page. W. P. Uzer (talk) 16:19, 21 December 2014 (UTC)