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

Nori Heikkinen wrote:
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

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

ok, let me give you a random word, let's say 'xxx' how much information do you need to use it in german? how much information do you need to use it in english?

gender being pretty much random?

that has nothing at all to do with the grammar -- you're talking about

it doesn't matter what it is. I was claiming that german language is a lot more complex than english... grammar is part of it... genders are part of it...

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.

  or, in other words, in german you need more information about the word

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

ok, it makes understanding the language a lot harder, because there are a lot more rules that you need to apply, each (most?) having exceptions etc. so for each word you not only need the word but all its forms (some of them can be derived based on rules, but how do you know which ones?)

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.

of course, you can create various complex and ambiguous sentences in english, the point is that you can take few forms of sentences and have a working language (that's pretty much what BASIC (talking about programming language) is).

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


  naming it doesn't make it simpler

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

all part of the lexicon.

all making language a lot harder because you need a lot more infromation about each word.

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.

  not true.

you're joking. you need to know the word, and depending on the word you need to various bits of info: gender, which rules of declesion to use (or specific forms for words then do not follow general rules)...

and when using words you need to know how they related to other words... you need to know gender of those other words... etc. in english the words stay pretty much unchanged and the grammar is defined by structure of the sentence. in german the grammar is defined by changing the words, often according to general rules but fairly often not following the rules...

think about it: when learning english the only challenge is to learn how to pronounce words (and learn irregular verbs). you built vocabulary by learning words, where you pretty much only need to remember the word itself (in its basic form). while when learning german... I don't even want to think about it.


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