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
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.
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
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.
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.