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The history of irregular verbs in Spanish....

 

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Old March 21, 2011, 06:12 AM
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The history of irregular verbs in Spanish....

Okay, so this might be a question with an obvious answer, but remember that I tend to be thick-headed, so bear with me. I'm thinking that Perikles might be someone who is well poised to give me a wonderful answer.

I was reading an article about Spanish verbs recently (I need to get a life) and the author made a statement that went something like this: "Verbs that are the most often used happen to have the most significant irregularities...." Blah, blah, blah....

So why is it that the more commonly used verbs have the more significant irregularities? Do you know the history of any of these irregular verbs?

Thanks!! (Perikles...)
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Old March 21, 2011, 09:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laepelba View Post
Thanks!! (Perikles...)
You flatter me. I have no specific answer other than very generally, the original Indo-European language from which most European languages derive was monumentally complicated in terms of syntax and grammar. There has been a general tendency over thousands of years to simplify. Take for example nouns - there were probably a dozen case endings, reduced to 5 for classical Greek, and 8 for Latin. There were probably many genders which quite early on were reduced to 3: masculine, feminine, neuter. There were huge numbers of declensions which reduced to about 14 different ones in Greek.

Verbs used to be far more complicated: In Greek there are more moods than in Spanish and the most basic verbs, hence to oldest, are all effectively irregular. Verbs invented later tended to be far more regular. A similar pattern can be seen in other languages.

The overall pattern is that very generally the older a verb the more irregular it is going to be. (Note that when a new verb is invented in Spanish it is regular with an -ar ending - another piece of simplification.) It follows that the most common verbs are more likely to be the irregular ones.

I think this phenomenon is more relevant to Indo-European languages than others. Turkish (a member of the Finnish-Hungarian language group) has for example only one irregular verb, to be and other languages have no irregular verbs at all. But I'm out of my depth here.
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Old March 21, 2011, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Perikles View Post
I think this phenomenon is more relevant to Indo-European languages than others. Turkish (a member of the Finnish-Hungarian language group) has for example only one irregular verb, to be and other languages have no irregular verbs at all. But I'm out of my depth here.
I understand that there are only two languages in which "to be" is completely regular: Swahili (the inter-tribal dialect, as opposed to the dialect spoken by the Waswahili) and Esperanto (which is, of course, artificial).
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Old March 21, 2011, 05:20 PM
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Irregular Spanish Verbs

I don't know much about the history, but memorizing all the different irregularities has been hard for me - ESPECIALLY irregular verbs in other tenses. My Spanish teacher taught us a song that really helps me remember the irregular spanish verbs in the preterite tense.

I just posted a video of me singing it on YouTube the other day. Maybe it'll help you too!

http://www.youtube.com/user/languagewrangler#p/u/2/asYlLwKygRs

Good luck!
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