Still thinking about Macedonian.
Cultural influence on grammar is interesting and relatively unexplored.
When Late Latin mixes with Slavic or Germanic, Latin wins. (But why?)
Latin mixing with Slavic: Romanian influence dissolved case endings and added a suffixed article to Bulgarian and Macedonian.
Latin mixing with Germanic: French influence dissolved most case endings in English and added a consistent plural suffix.
The French/English situation provides an experiment that helps to distinguish linguistic universals.
Our original Teutonic grammar had a confusing and non-orthogonal
variety of plural and case endings. The most common genitive on Masculine and Neuter nouns ended in s
. French brought in caseless nouns and a consistent plural ending in s.
We ended up keeping the genitive singular s
... at least on paper ... and also keeping the French all-case plural s
. Result is redundant. A noun ending in s
may be genitive singular or any plural.
One unquestionable universal: When a meaning or a grammatical mechanism is necessary
, we will always find a unique way to express it. When a necessary word disappears or merges with another word, we will make up a new word or phrase for the necessary meaning. When a necessary grammatical form disappears or merges, we will tack on a new ending or a new 'helper' to express it.
Thus a marked genitive isn't universal or necessary, because we didn't rebuild a new way to express it when it collapsed into the French plural. We didn't adopt the habit of using of
to express the genitive, as the Latinate languages did. Position in the sentence is sufficient to distinguish a genitive relationship.
Labels: Asked and sort of answered, Language update