Den 2006-06-27 09:44:17 skrev Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]>:
> Yes, people abbreviate things, but I wonder if you'd
> find that words in old english are longer than the
> ones we use today. I sort of doubt it, actually.
The shortest word I could think of in Swedish is ö, meaning island.
Ackording to Hellquist's etymological dictionary of Swedish it is related
to an I-E. akwa, thus meaning something like "land on water", i.e. near
water or surrounded by it.
> The grammar is a very different issue. I am aware of
> the supposed tendency for European languages to move
> from agglutinative toward isolating, and incidentally
> the two most spoken languages in the world are
> strongly isolating.
Both in Swedish and Bulgarian there was a strong influence through other
people who came to the country and this led to a simplification of
inflexions. I wonder if this doesn't happen when a language with
inflexions meet languages with words who don't go into the system. A
modern example is the ward "radio" which is not inflected in Russian. With
many new words that don't go into the system, even Russian will eventually
lose its cases! But it will take time. In some Slavic and Baltic languages
one can notice a coincidence of cases, and in Latin as well, so this is
What I don't know is if there is any languages where the grammar has been
more complicated. The only tendency I can think of is that some weak verbs
in Swedish are becomming strong. In languages everything is analogy and
patterns, if you would believe me.
I wonder if writing will not hamper the evolution to more complex
> some principle at work or is it just a chance
> occurrence? Well, actually, since we know that creoles
> tend to be isolating, it may simply be that when
> languages spread, they tend to become isolating, and
> then when they settle down in a single group of
> speakers, they tend more toward agglutination or
> something along those lines.
You are right. It would be interesting though to se a language getting new
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