Eupedia Forums
Site NavigationEupedia Top > Eupedia Forum & Japan Forum
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Is complexity of grammar pointing to roots of a language?

  1. #1
    Advisor LeBrok's Avatar
    Join Date
    18-11-09
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    10,296

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b Z2109
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H1c

    Ethnic group
    Citizen of the world
    Country: Canada-Alberta



    Lightbulb Is complexity of grammar pointing to roots of a language?



    I have asked myself a question, why grammar of many modern languages is simpler, sometimes much simpler, when compared to their root language?

    English has a very simple grammar compared to its most influential source of Germanic family of Anglo-Saxon.

    Romance languages are grammatically simplified form of Latin.

    Maybe it means that Latin and Anglo-Saxon was for a long time a second language for people of conquered areas? There were no schools back then to teach young kids correct versions. The languages of conquerors became dominant, but because it was a second language and most of locals learned them from other locals who didn’t know the language perfectly, it became simplified. Latin became Vulgar Latin, Anglo-Saxon became Old English.

    If I’m correct with this assertion we should be able to trace source of languages even if we don’t know history of it

    I wonder how the situation pans for the whole family of Germanic languages. Can we trace the source of it to most influential country? Who has the most complicated grammar? Is it Danish, Swedish, or some places in Germany with some old difficult grammatically dialects?

    Is it possible to do the same with Slavic languages? What can we get when we compare grammars of Polish, Bulgarian or Macedonian for example?


    With Romance languages case is much easier. By historic records we can trace it to small area of Latin tribe.
    Interesting is that when I’ve heard Basque language for the first time I thought that they were speaking Spanish. The melody, the pronunciation, the accents was very like Spanish. Mind that I don’t speak either, and my judgment was only audible.
    Looks like in Spanish the vocabulary and grammar are Vulgar Latin but pronunciation and melody is area local, I guess. (Digression: Portuguese sounds different for me, sometimes similar to Slovenian or Slovakian with these very soft Č, Š, Ž. Maybe something to do with Galicia here and there? Old Celtic influence?)


    Off course everything is based on assumption that original and long isolated languages had very complicated grammar. Plus some observation that spread of a language over none speaking population meant simplification of grammar.

    What do you think guys?

  2. #2
    Advisor LeBrok's Avatar
    Join Date
    18-11-09
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    10,296

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b Z2109
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H1c

    Ethnic group
    Citizen of the world
    Country: Canada-Alberta



    I don't know, I can't find, if any comparative complexity of grammars study was done by a linguist. It could be an interesting read, or at least conclusions of it.

  3. #3
    Elite member
    Join Date
    07-11-12
    Location
    Germany
    Posts
    2,378

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b1b2a* (inferred)

    Country: Germany



    Interesting question. Generally, I totally agree, regarding the Indo-European languages, the tendency towards greater simplicity exists across the board (with very few exceptions - the Baltic languages being very conservative for instance). On the flip side, few IE languages have such a simplified grammar as English has. As for comparative complexity, there are a few key indicators that I would suggest to make a rough comparison (at least, within the Indo-European system), such as the number of declensions.

  4. #4
    Elite member Asturrulumbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    01-09-11
    Location
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    210


    Country: Mexico



    Quote Originally Posted by LeBrok View Post
    Maybe it means that Latin and Anglo-Saxon was for a long time a second language for people of conquered areas? There were no schools back then to teach young kids correct versions. The languages of conquerors became dominant, but because it was a second language and most of locals learned them from other locals who didn’t know the language perfectly, it became simplified. Latin became Vulgar Latin, Anglo-Saxon became Old English.
    But not necessarily. Though it is true that languages that are learned en masse as a second language lose their complexity (such as creoles), it is not always the case. For example, modern Irish is much less morphologically complex than Old Irish, and the same is true when comparing PIE to almost all its descendants.

  5. #5
    Advisor LeBrok's Avatar
    Join Date
    18-11-09
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    10,296

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b Z2109
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H1c

    Ethnic group
    Citizen of the world
    Country: Canada-Alberta



    I've been going through Slavic countries grammar with emphases on noun declension. The countries with simplified Slavic grammar are Macedonia and Bulgaria. It would mean that according to my "complexity of grammar" (at least for IE speakers) hypothesis populations of Bulgaria and Macedonia were not originally slavic speaking people.

    As such, it shares several grammatical innovations with the other southwest Balkan languages that set it apart from other Slavic languages. These include a sharp reduction in noun inflections; most Bulgarian nouns and adjectives are inflected for number and gender, but have lost noun cases. Bulgarian also has a suffixed definite article, while most other Slavic languages have no definite article at all. Bulgarian has also lost the verb infinitive, while otherwise preserving most of the complexities of the Old Bulgarian verb conjugation system, and has further developed the proto-Slavic verb system to add verb forms to express nonwitnessed, retold, and doubtful (irrealis) actions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgarian_grammar

    Macedonian grammar (Macedonian: македонска граматика, makedonska gramatika) refers to the morphology and syntax of the Macedonian language, which is, in many respects, similar to the grammar of some other Balkan languages (constituent languages of the Balkan sprachbund) — especially Bulgarian and Serbian. The first printed Macedonian grammar is from Gjorgjija Pulevski, which was published in 1880.[1]
    Macedonian exhibits a number of grammatical features that distinguish it from most other Slavic languages, such as the elimination of case declension, the development of a suffixed definite article, and the lack of an infinitival verb, among others.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_grammar

    With my very limited linguistic skills, and even with help of mister google, I can't find any major differences between grammars of other Slavs.

  6. #6
    Advisor LeBrok's Avatar
    Join Date
    18-11-09
    Location
    Calgary
    Posts
    10,296

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R1b Z2109
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H1c

    Ethnic group
    Citizen of the world
    Country: Canada-Alberta



    Quote Originally Posted by Asturrulumbo View Post
    But not necessarily. Though it is true that languages that are learned en masse as a second language lose their complexity (such as creoles), it is not always the case. For example, modern Irish is much less morphologically complex than Old Irish,
    I don't think that I've identified a strict rule, it's more like a trend. It also might be the case that in 20th century Irish speaking, every day Irish speaking, population dwindled bellow minimum to sustain correct grammar?

    and the same is true when comparing PIE to almost all its descendants.
    Except most Slavic and Baltic languages. But surely there might be a natural trend in language simplification for some, like Germanic family. On other hand Hungarian/Magyar possibly got more complicated with time.

    I wish I could do more, but this is it of my knowledge, even with help of mister google, lol.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 11
    Last Post: 29-01-13, 17:35
  2. DNA study: Hitler had Jewish roots
    By Shasta in forum E1b1b
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 21-10-12, 16:44
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-05-11, 09:02
  4. Genetic roots to the village level
    By Chris in forum Autosomal Genetics
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 12-08-10, 15:40
  5. The Roots of Terrorism
    By Satori in forum World News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 27-03-04, 10:27

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •