Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
ganab he has stolen, goneb stealing, ganub being stolen, gnob (to) steal. But not all infinitives are formed according to the type of shmor and gnob or of other types of internal vowel change. Certain verbs suffix a t-element for the infinitive, e.g., ten-eth to give, heyo-th to be. Again, the pronominal ideas may be expressed by independent words (e.g., anoki I), by prefixed elements (e.g., e-shmor I shall guard), or by suffixed elements (e.g., shamar-ti I have guarded). In Nass, an Indian language of British Columbia, plurals are formed by four distinct methods. Most nouns (and verbs) are reduplicated in the plural, that is, part of the radical element is repeated, e.g., gyat person, gyigyat people. A second method is the use of certain characteristic prefixes, e.g., anon hand, ka-anon hands; wai one paddles, lu-wai several paddle. Still other plurals are formed by means of internal vowel change, e.g., gwula cloak, gwila cloaks. Finally, a fourth class of plurals is constituted by such nouns as suffix a grammatical element, e.g., waky brother, wakykw brothers.
From such groups of examples as theseand they might be multiplied ad nauseam we cannot but conclude that linguistic form may and should be studied as types of patterning, apart from the associated functions. We are the more justified in this procedure as all languages evince a curious instinct for the development of one or more particular grammatical processes at the expense of others, tending always to lose sight of any explicit functional value that the process may have had in the first instance, delighting, it would seem, in the sheer play of its means of expression. It does not matter that in such a case as the English goosegeese, fouldefile, singsangsung we can prove that we are dealing with