Morphological alignment

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Morphological alignment is a phenomenon of linguistic morphology , which is particularly found in historical linguistics . It is generally the phenomenon that different word forms within an inflection paradigm align to a certain form of the paradigm. The result is syncretisms , which are occurrences of the same word forms, each expressing different but sometimes closely related functions and meanings.

The German language - like most of the West Germanic languages - has in its history known morphological adjustments in the inflection of nouns as well as in the conjugation of verbs. An example is the partial disappearance of Pluralsuffixe in words whose root word in the singular in -el or -er ends. In the nominative , genitive and accusative case , this suffix has now been replaced by a null allomorph (for example "die / der / die Finger"). Only in the dative there is a visible morpheme: "the finger -n ".

A second example is the formation of the past tense as verbs bake , which nowadays frequently baked as buk is. Because nowadays in German, as in most other West Germanic languages, the conjugation of weak verbs is more common than that of strong verbs , there is a tendency to coordinate the forms of similar conjugations as much as possible. In English , almost all strong verbs have become weak this way. However, in some small German dialects, the past tense asked to frug has also changed in the same way , while nowadays in Dutch the past tense vroeg (< varsh , "to ask") instead of vraagde is even the only standard form.