Languages, Vol. 8, Pages 40: (Extreme) Polymorphism in Occitan Verb Morphology
Languages doi: 10.3390/languages8010040
Authors: Franck Floricic
Polymorphism has long been recognized as a crucial dimension of the nature of language. One of the merits of dialectology and dialectologists is emphasis on the inherently variable and polymorphic nature of linguistic systems, which are always in a state of relative equilibrium and stability. The most striking features of the Occitan data that will be discussed lies in the possibility of finding various forms in a given cell in certain paradigms; more strikingly, it will be shown that two or three (even four) paradigms for one and the same (tense) verb may coexist in the same variety. It will be argued that if polymorphism is the natural state of linguistic systems, it is also anti-economic from a cognitive and processing point of view. It follows that the diachronic evolution of languages tends to develop adaptive solutions to circumvent the potential drawbacks of extreme polymorphism: &ldquo;natural selection&rdquo; leads to the reduction or elimination of morphological proliferation. Of course, before reduction or elimination take place, a more or less extended period of time may elapse during which a preference for some paradigmatic options may arise.