Why do languages break their rules so much? (e.g. irregular verbs)

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Why do languages break their rules so much? (e.g. irregular verbs)

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Anonymous 0 Comments

>Why do languages break their rules so much? (e.g. irregular verbs)

The “rules” to which you refer are not a recipe or an instruction how to *use* a language, they’re always just a makeshift collection of heuristics to roughly *describe* that language.

That’s because with very very few exceptions like Esperanto, the language **always came first** and at some point some folk got together to find some regularities and patterns to describe and formalize it. There always *are* patterns, but not nearly as many as you could expect from something that was deliberately constructed with patterns and rules in mind from the very beginning – because that’s not what a language is, a language grows and changes naturally and isn’t constructed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I can’t speak for other languages, but english grew gradually and incorporated many words from invaders and fashion.

One great source on this is Rob Words on YouTube. this is his video on plurals:

Anonymous 0 Comments

language isn’t like a game where you invent the rules first and play the game. instead, you play the game however you feel like and nerdy people try to guess what the rules are after. and write the textbooks. and test you on it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because in natural languages, rules are constructed afterwards. If you look at the distribution of irregular word, you’ll find that 80% of irregular verbs are found among the 20% of the most used, whereas the remaining 80% only make up 20% of irregular verbs. In fact, i have yet to encounter a language where “to be”, one of the most common verbs in any language, is regular.

This is because languages don’t start out following rules. We make them up later on to make them easier. Everything starts out irregular, but only some of the most used verbs get to retain their irregularity, because people are more likely to remember the irregular forms in common words. For less common words, the irregular forms are eventually forgotten, and people create the regular forms instead.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because language developed organically as a necessity, it was not designed. All of the “rules” were invented later to try and describe what already existed. Actually, irregular verbs are far less common than they used to be. The only irregular verbs that still exist are those that are high-frequency verbs; the less common ones have become standardised over time.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In Old English those verbs were perfectly regular. They just followed one of the patterns (as far as I remember, there were 11 verb groups, 7+4 storg+weak)

Anonymous 0 Comments

A language isn’t something that has a pre-designed structure. It grows and changes over time sometimes for no reason other than people hearing things wrong.

Recent example for English: “He did it on accident”.

Why is “on accident” wrong? Why was “by accident” correct to begin with? Likewise, why is “by purpose” wrong and “on purpose” correct?

You might be able to find the etymology of these expressions but many times it’s “just because”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Two main reasons:

1) they are borrowing from languages with different ‘rules’ and are inconsistent from the get-go

2) all languages change through usage. Frequently used words have the most opportunities for change. So the most irregular verbs cross-linguistically tend to be verbs like “to do,” “to be,” etc. which are used constantly by just about everyone. Each time they are spoken, little opportunities for change arise which accumulate and spread over time! On the other hand, verbs which are very rarely used have little opportunity for changes to occur and spread, so they tend to remain much more consistent.

There are other reasons but these are two big ones!

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because those rules aren’t actually rules.

The language developed just from people talking to each other a whole bunch. The “rules” were something people came up with after the fact to try to explain what had developed.

Linguists are largely descriptivist, not prescriptivist. That means they’re not telling people how to speak, they’re just describing the way that people speak. Linguists don’t generally describe things like slang as “incorrect”, they describe it as “nonstandard”, because they know that what’s a curious bit of dialect now may eventually become the norm.

The reason we speak English the way we speak it now is because our ancestors broke the rules enough that the changes became the new norm. Using “you” as a singular was incorrect until enough people did it that it was now the norm. If we all followed the “rules” of our language then we’d still be able to read Beowulf.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because languages aren’t designed from the ground up, they are defined from the top down by use.