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way-OT: regularity of german v. english [was: Re: OT - Programming Languages w/o English Syntax]

on Sun, 19 Oct 2003 04:10:38AM -0700, Erik Steffl insinuated:
> Monique Y. Herman wrote:
> >On Fri, 17 Oct 2003 at 22:37 GMT, Erik Steffl penned:
> >
> >>  english has a fairly simple a regular grammar so it's fairly easy
> >>  to create english based programming language - the basic control
> >>  structures are pretty much english sentences.
> >>
> >>  This would be fairly hard todo in other languages that has more
> >>  irregular grammar (the ones I know anything about have a lot more
> >>  complicated/irregular grammar).
> >
> >
> >Hrm.  German and Latin are much more regular than English.  French is,
> >too, iirc.  English has a *lot* of irregularity.
>   german is regular? 

more so than english, yes.

> with each word changing depending on how it's used in sentence
> (case)??? 

that's quite regular -- it's called declension, and is well-documented
in any introductory german text.

> gender being pretty much random?

that has nothing at all to do with the grammar -- you're talking about
the lexicon.  the gender of german nouns is as arbitrary as the
phonemes that make up english words -- both have some historical
background, but none may make any sense.  both are just items to be
memorized when learning the language -- just as we map "fork" to our
concept of that thing with tines we use to eat broccoli, germans map
"die Gabel" onto the same thing -- a word, and a gender to go with it.
same deal.

>   in english there are few cases of irregularity (past tense/past 
> participle of some verbs, few words have non-standard way to create
> plural and that's pretty much it). each words has at most few forms,
> easily recongizable (as in: the forms are created in same way for
> almost all the words). 

again, lexicon.  this point has nothing to do with the "regularity" of

> and the structure of the sentence is pretty simple as well.

clearly, you've never tried to map it out.  go on, then, i dare you --
write me a regular grammar that can express the grammar of english.

>   compare that to german where each words has number of forms 
> (depending on what it relates to), 


> and these forms are created in different ways for different words.

all part of the lexicon.

>   example: in english, if I know the verb (one word) I can pretty much 
> use it in a sentence. how many forms of each verb in german do you
> need to know to be able to use it in a sentence?

a root form (lexical); a knowledge of its behavior (also lexical); the
basic rules for declension (a regular part of grammar).  answer: one.


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