Philip Newton (pne) wrote in linguaphiles,
Philip Newton

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"Prototypical" verb

The other day, two Maltese verbs came to mind (wizen jizen and wiret jiret -- "to weigh" and "to inherit", IIRC), and I thought about how in some languages, some verbs may be sort-of well-known, not because they are widely used but because they are one of the few that exemplify certain conjugations (w- initial verbs, in this case; another case might be wera juri, the only form IV verb in Maltese).

And that made me think about "prototypical" verbs, that are commonly used as an example when demonstrating how to conjugate a verb -- or, for that matter, prototypical nouns that are commonly used as an example when demonstrating how to decline a noun.

For example, I think that كتب kataba "to write" is such a prototypical verb in Arabic (and I think also its relative kiteb "idem." in Maltese). For Latin first conjugation verbs, I have an idea that amō/amare "to love" is a commonly-used verb. And my Ancient Greek grammar has λύω/λύειν lýô/lýein "to loose", which may be a common example (Nick Nicholas says in his blog that it is favoured in textbooks as an exemplar (because its root ends in upsilon, one of the few consonants or vowels not to cause grief when it is juxtaposed to the tense suffixes) (though if you want to be completely strict, the stem upsilon does change vowel length depending on the form; however, this is usually not reflected in writing).

As for nouns, I think that talo "house" is pretty popular in Finnish for demonstrating noun cases.

What about other languages? Are there verbs and/or nouns that are commonly used as exemplars for demonstrating inflections?


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