Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

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Nooj
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Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Nooj »

Also, forgive my stupid question, but are there languages where nouns are a closed class? Thank you!

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Jipí »

Topic title wrote:Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Nooj wrote:are there languages where nouns are a closed class?

/me scratches head

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Nooj »

That was a follow up question to the one in the title! :)

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Ars Lande »

I believe some Australian languages have a limited set of verb roots.
For instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warlpiri_language

Iroquoian languages make a distinction between formal and functional nouns - functional nouns being, to oversimplify the issue, verbal clauses taking nominal functions syntactically. If I'm not mistaken, formal nouns are a closed class or pretty close to it.

(Disclaimer: I actually do not know a lot about the languages mentioned above besides the intriguing factoids I may have borrowed for my conlangs. If anyone with a better understanding of the subject comes along, feel free to correct it).

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by ---- »

In Chechen, any verbs needed for new concepts appear in the form 'to do X', so this language arguably applies.

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Ser »

Topic title wrote:Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?
Kēlen, in its relationals—though that's a conlang.

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

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Japanese, according to Wikipedia.
The conlanger formerly known as “the conlanger formerly known as Pole, the”.

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by cromulant »

Topic title wrote:Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?


Piraha.

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by clawgrip »

Most new Japanese verbs are formed from adding suru 'do' to a noun, but new verb coinages are not impossible. 事故る jikoru 'to have an accident' (from jiko 'accident') and メモる memoru 'to note something down' (from 'memo') are both relatively recent verb coinages.

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Salmoneus »

There are languages where what you might call syntactic verbs are a closed class, but where the semantic part of the verb is shunted onto a different word class. In other words, all sentences require auxiliaries, which are the only things that act like verbs, while the 'main verbs' just stand there. On the other hand, you could argue that they're the real verbs, in which case they aren't a closed class.
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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Yng »

Inasmuch as most 'verbs' are light verbs with a nominal or verbnominal object and a conjugated auxiliary, Farsi and Basque. Not entirely sure about Farsi, but in Basque at least the conjugable verbs, as well as being auxiliaries, may act as main verbs and have their own independent meanings. Likewise, many Papuan languages have only a limited set of conjugable verb roots which form a closed class, with new formations adding a nominal element to an existing verb to form a new lexeme.
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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by chris_notts »

Yng wrote:Likewise, many Papuan languages have only a limited set of conjugable verb roots which form a closed class, with new formations adding a nominal element to an existing verb to form a new lexeme.


In the Kalam languages, which I think you might be referring to, I think that verb serialisation is used even more than adding a nominal element to compensate for the small number of verb roots.
Try the online version of the HaSC sound change applier: http://chrisdb.dyndns-at-home.com/HaSC

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Re: Are there any languages where verbs are a closed class?

Post by Morrígan »

Ingush and Chechen have verbs as a closed class. Novel verbal constructions are basically of the form "do NOUN", like "do gun" for "shoot", if I recall the examples mentioned by Johanna Nichols.

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