Help! I'm so confused!

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Help! I'm so confused!

Postby ConnorRobertM » Tue 15 Jan 2013 10:47 pm

Okay. Any answers would be helpful here. So I've just gotten interested in languages last year, I find everything about linguistics fascinating, particularly old languages like Old Norse or Old English. I was just wondering though, I'm modeling my Conlang off of these two, and I noticed while paging through dictionaries, do Old Norse and Old English have a separate word for every word? Even ones with suffixes? For example, if one word was quick and the second word was quickly would they have a completely different word for each of those, even though in English they just add a suffix to separate the two? If you don't understand, I'll explain further, (though I'm basically asking if Old English\Norse uses Suffixes.)

Thanks!
-Connor :D
Fluent- English (Native)
Basic- French
Future- Danish, Icelandic, Czech, Welsh

Conlangs- Hanske, New Norse, and other silly ones made in five minutes.
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Re: Help! I'm so confused!

Postby linguoboy » Tue 15 Jan 2013 11:46 pm

ConnorRobertM wrote:I was just wondering though, I'm modeling my Conlang off of these two, and I noticed while paging through dictionaries, do Old Norse and Old English have a separate word for every word? Even ones with suffixes? For example, if one word was quick and the second word was quickly would they have a completely different word for each of those, even though in English they just add a suffix to separate the two? If you don't understand, I'll explain further, (though I'm basically asking if Old English\Norse uses Suffixes.)

Of course they use suffixes; where do you think we got -ly from in the first place?

So I guess your question is "Do Old Norse and Old English use suffixes wherever we would use them in Modern English?" and the answer to that is "No". -ly is far more common in Modern English than it was in earlier stages of the language, and more common than the corresponding ending in Old Norse (-lig).

The reason is that, in Germanic, adjectives didn't need any special endings in order to function as adverbs. Slow (Old English sláw) could mean both "not quick" and "in a slow manner". This is still the situation in most Germanic languages today. English is unusual in requiring distinctive adverbial forms like slowly, stupidly, confusedly, etc.

In short, the reason you make be seeing only one entry for Old English cwic or Old Norse kvikr is that the same root could be used as both an adjective or an adverb depending on the situation. (Though note that the meaning was different back then, namely "alive" or "lively" rather than "speedy" or "speedily".)
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Re: Help! I'm so confused!

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Wed 16 Jan 2013 7:34 am

In addition, Modern English lost most of its inflectional suffixes over the centuries, so the addition of a productive suffix (such as -ly) became easier to do than in most languages.

(English is one of the least inflected of all IE languages.)
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