Friday, October 12, 2007

Tracking the evolution of language

Researchers discover that irregular verbs change in a predictable manner -- just like genes and living organisms.
By Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 11, 2007

Tracing the evolution of English verbs over 1,200 years -- from the Old English of "Beowulf" to the modern English of "The Princess Diaries" -- researchers have found that the majority of irregular verbs are going the way of Grendel, falling to the linguistic equivalent of natural selection.

The irregular verbs, governed by confusing and antiquated rules, came under evolutionary pressure to obey the modern "-ed" rule of regular verb conjugation, according to a report today in the journal Nature.



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