Re: [tied] jestem

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 38375
Date: 2005-06-06

tgpedersen wrote:

> I opposed the idea that a central verb as "to be" should pressed into
> a new and more complicated mould than it the one it was already in.
> You then argue that that might be illogical, but then language is
> illogical and if I can't see that then I have a problem.

I didn't say that language was illogical. But I would say that the logic
that underlies language change is not what you apparently imagine it to
be. People don't compare alternative paradigms to vote for the most
regular one. Every new speaker builds his or her own grammar by trial
and error. By the way, the paradigm of sum (esom in early inscriptions),
es, est was not significantly "more complicated" than the older one.

> I think the
> problem is on the side of those that use this kind of reasoning.
> Basically you used have two types of argument in your posting:
> 1) the proposal is simple, therefore it is right, and therefore people
> who can't see that have a problem.

Other things being equal, a simpler explanation is preferable. It may
still be wrong, but the burden of proof is on those who prefer a more
complex explanation.

> 2) the proposal is complicated, but language is complicated, and
> therefore people who can't see that have a problem.

I din't make any complicated proposals in my posting, did I? I only said
that the result of language change may be an increase in grammatical
complexity. That's pretty obvious.

> As for Polish, it looks to me like Polish might have gone through a
> phase where the copula suffered a similar fate as in Russian: only 3rd
> person 'jest' and 'sa~' ('jest' and 'sut'') survived of the present.
>>From there the paradigm was recreated by constructing new 1st and
> 2nd persons from the stem 'jest-' extracted from the 3rd sg.

The relevant part of the history of Polish is documented. Things were
not that simple -- in particular, old and innovated forms coexisted for
some time, and the resulting new paradigm is still highly unusual in
that it doesn't match the normal pattern of present-tense conjugations
in Polish. But never mind that: my point was that the motivation for the
change was not paradigmatic simplification.