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HKWNB, HKCOTW, Current events
Hi. Thanks for your contributions to some Hong Kong-related articles. You might be interested to take a look at HK wikipedians' notice board, HK Collaboration of the Week and Current events in Hong Kong and Macao. Happy editing! — Instantnood 09:11, Apr 29, 2005 (UTC)
Most verbs are regular by definition, aren't they?
No, not by any definition of regularity.
"Regular" when applied to verb forms doesn't mean what you think, apparently.
A "regular" verb is one that follows a fixed inflection pattern, that can be learned once and then applied to all other verbs in its group. An irregular verb's inflection pattern can't be applied to other verbs, or only to a handful of other verbs.
When the article says "most Italian verbs are regular", it's actually saying something. Most German verbs are NOT regular. It's not a given. I'm putting back that phrase in a day if you don't, because it's important for the record, ok?
There's a really interesting science of the mind that's growing up around irregular words (in one's first language) lately -- read "How The Mind Works" by Steven Pinker.
According to Pinker and other research he cites, irregular nouns and verbs are dealt with by a different part of the brain than regular ones.
- Please note, however, that the Irregular verb article, which I have now linked into Italian grammar, apparently disagrees with you, basically saying, AFAICS, that classes of similar verbs are irregular when there are few enough of them. It looks a bit like the discussion about Italian neuter that I've had on the Romance languages talk page.
- Now, I'm not qualified to decide whether yours is the correct definition, or Irregular verb's one is, or both are alternative, current definitions. Please have a look at the article.
- LjL 12:21, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
- I don't see the conflict -- as far as I can tell the three definitions are identical. Look again at mine, yours, and the "irregular verb" definition:
An irregular verb's inflection pattern can't be applied to other verbs, or only to a handful of other verbs.
classes of similar verbs are irregular when there are few enough of them.
In contrast to regular verbs, irregular verbs are those verbs that fall outside the standard patterns of conjugation in the languages in which they occur.
- Where's the conflict? In all cases it's still useful to mention whether the majority of verbs are regular or not. If you take "a handful" as being between 1 and 10, that's a rough magnitude for an irregular verb class. When the size of the class is more like 100-200, it's borderline (like the Swedish strong verbs), and when it's over 400, it's a legitimate declension or conjugation class of its own.
- But in each case, Pinker would agree too, and point out that the "production rule" seems to trump all these definitions, at least as far as the brain's sorting mechanisms: The pattern that newly invented or borrowed verbs (or nouns) takes on is the "regular" pattern. Usually this is the majority pattern, but not always. For example in German nouns, there are 8 different pluralization declensions, and almost all nouns take one of the first 7. The 8th declension ("just add -s") is by far the smallest numerically, but it applies to all new and borrowed words. And according to language acquisition studies, the "just add -s" rule in German is treated by language acquirers as "regular", and the other 7 rules, though they're in the majority, are dealt with within the mind as irregulars.
- This rule also deals with the English vs. Old English strong verbs in the irregular_verb article. If you make up a new verb, like "flink", in English and ask a native speaker to fill in "Today I flink once, but yesterday I ______ twice, and I have never ______ more than three times in a day". A modern English speaker might be tempted to conjugate "flink" like "drink" or "stink", but they'll laugh, and in the end they won't-- they'll follow "blink" instead, and use the regular forms "flinked" and "flinked" instead. An Old English speaker, used to umlaut, will consider "drink" and "stink" to be a "rule", not an exception, and will probably fill in "flank" and "flunk".
- Well, myself, I have to admit that I'd certainly conjugate "flink flank flunk", but them I'm no native speaker... I suppose that I see "blink" as an exception rather than "drink".
- Anyway, the part I think the article deviates from what you say is when it states that Latin, Greek, etc. verbs are not considered irregular. If, as the article says, each of them basically has its own unpredictable pattern, they would definitely be irregular according to your definition, wouldn't they? (besides, is your definition the 1st or the 3rd?)
- About "irregular" verbs in Latin (i.e. those forming present, perfect and participle from different and unpredictable roots, as the article says), I'll point out that I think Italian has a lot of those, too. Probably less than Latin, and maybe not a majority, but as a skin feeling, I'm quite sure there is a lot of them. Now, since the article says they are not considered irregular in Latin, they're probably not irregular in Italian; but if one considers them irregular, then the concept that most Italian verbs are regular might turn out not to work.
- LjL 15:55, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)
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