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Author Topic: I'm sure there's a word for this, but I just can't recall it!  (Read 1860 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: August 11, 2007, 04:24:44 AM »

I'm in desparate need to imminently recall the word (which i'm 99% sure exists) used to define those languages (such as Greek, Coptic etc.) in which various elements of a sentence (e.g. articles, pronouns), which usually stand as independent words in english, are often suffixed and prefixed to the noun or infinitive. Thanks in advance!
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2007, 09:54:56 AM »

Are you referring to an enclitic?
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2007, 10:04:28 AM »

Are you referring to an enclitic?

Enclitics and proclitics are the elements that are added to the beginning and ends of words, but we have those in English.
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2007, 10:59:15 AM »

I think he wants the word for the languages that use those things.  I've heard the word "inflectional" but who knows if that's right.  Could it be "synthetic?"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphological_typology
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2007, 01:22:11 PM »

I'm pretty sure the word you're looking for is inflected, meaning it experesses its grammar through modifications to the stem (not always as a change in a suffix or prefix, sometimes as an actual change to the stem itself, as is the case with the West Germanic Strong Verbs, incorrectly called 'irregular' by instructors of modern English). Though one can speak of different degrees of inflection in language, English is weakly inflected (or modern and middle English, anyway, Old English was moderately inflected), as is the case with Sweedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, the Romance Languages are somewhere inbetween weakly and moderately inflected, German and Icelandic moderately so, Latin rather heavily inflectional, but Basque puts them all to shame.

Or, perhaps (though less likely so), the word you may be getting at is 'agglutinative', these are languages which do not so much change their lexeme for gramatical purposes (as is the case in inflected languages) as combine different lexeme togther in the form of prefixes and suffixes for the purposes of gramatical constructions. The Latin derived 'antidisestablishmentarianism' is a clear cut Modern English example of an agglutination, yet the class 4 Germanic strong verb 'break, broke, broken' is a clear cut Modern English example of inflection. This is extremly common in the Finno-Ugric and Samoyedic language groups; however, these languages will often be labeled as inflected not so much because of a confusion in terms as because of the evolution of these languages, especially in the Samoyedic branch of the Uralic languages. Specifically, consonant gradation is changing and merging the roots and suffixes, removing distinctions between the two, thus making elements of the langauges more inflected than agglutinative.
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« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2007, 03:42:43 PM »

I recall hearing or reading somewhere that languages can also be classified into "analytic" and "synthetic." English is a typical example of an analytic language. Basically, the definition of an analytic language is that in an analytical language, you can change only prepositions, without changing the ending of the noun, and that alone will convey the sense of what you are saying. For example, you say in English (an analytic language): on the table, by the table, at the table, behind the table, underneath the table, over the table, etc. (the ending of the noun "table" does not change, but the meaning changes according to the prepositions you use). In synthetic languages, you change the endings of the noun together with prepositions, e.g. in my native Ukrainian (a synthetic language), the above about the table would be "na stoli, bilya stolu, za stolom, pozadu stola, pid stolom, nad stolom, poverx stolu," etc.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 03:43:26 PM by Heorhij » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2007, 03:57:38 PM »

Latin rather heavily inflectional, but Basque puts them all to shame.


I'd like more information about this.  Sounds cool!
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2007, 05:18:23 PM »

I'd like more information about this.  Sounds cool!

Well, I am by no means an expert in Euskara, but it is an extremely interesting language. It's highly inflected and there's some debate to this day about the neutral word order in sentences. This is a pretty good site which gives a basic introduction to grammar, though to actually speak the language much more indepth analysis is required (and good luck if you're not a native speaker):

http://www.ehu.es/grammar/
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