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CONLANG  March 1999, Week 4

CONLANG March 1999, Week 4

Subject:

Re: relative tense and beyond!

From:

"Raymond A. Brown" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 23 Mar 1999 07:38:30 +0000

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text/plain (41 lines)

At 11:41 pm -0500 22/3/99, Nik Taylor wrote:
>Gary Shannon wrote:
>>
>> Feel free to correct me, if my ignorance is showing, but I don't really see
>> how an agglutinating language would be any different, then, from a strict
>> analytic language with all the air squeezed out from between the words.
>
>Well, that's basically what it is, from an historical perspective.
>Several qualities distinguish affixes from words.  For one thing,
>they're phonologically part of the word.  In some languages, this is in
>the form of accents, that is, only one stress per word.  This isn't in
>all languages, of course, but it is a fairly common tendency.  Another
>feature is that affixes often have variant forms, such as vowel harmony
>variants, as in Turkish where the plural morpheme may be -lar or -ler,
>depending on whether the noun is a "front" or "back" word, other types
>of variants are letters which may be dropped.

Yep - that's summarized it pretty nicely, I think. I was ready to respond
to this one, but Nik beat me to it  :)

Yes, it's the state of the glue, so to speak, between the morphemes.  In an
agglutinating language the morphemes are clearly phonologically part of a
bigger 'word complex'.


>However, as you can see from my
>comments, there is no cut-and-dry answer, and there is sometimes
>controversy over whether a given morpheme is an affix or a word.

And some of the controversy is pretty needless IMHO.  It seems to be
generated by those living about 100 years in the past when languages were
held to belong to distinct groups: isolating, agglutinating, flexional.  At
best, these are _tendencies_ and very few (probably none) strictly keep
within one camp.  Often, it simply depends on perspective, e.g. the verbal
pro-complements of French are written as separate words and, historically,
each morpheme has derived from different Latin words; but they are
certainly spoken as a single unit with the verb itself which leads many to
classify thus as an example of 'polysynthesis'.

Ray.

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