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Re: just curious.. ;)

From:Christophe Grandsire <christophe.grandsire@...>
Date:Monday, October 29, 2001, 12:31
En réponse à Nik Taylor <fortytwo@...>:

> > My agglutinating languages have phonetic variation, Finnish, for > instance, has consonant gradation, where the stem has two forms > depending on which suffix is added. Turkish has vowel harmony. > Japanese has varying stems (e.g., kaki-tai "I want to write", but > kaka-nai "I don't write"), altho that's also sometimes analyzed as > simply epenthetic vowels, e.g., -(i)tai = want, -(a)nai = negation. > > Polysynthetic, I believe, is characterized by suffixes being an open > class and allowing incorporation, that is, making another word into a > part of a word. >
Remember also that languages are never purely of one flexional type. You don't have a purely isolating language (even Chinese and English are not), a purely agglutinating (even Turkish is not) or purely synthetic (Latin did have agglutinating features: ama-ba-m: I was loving). As for polysynthetic, the definition of it is so fuzzy that I don't know how to talk about a "purely polysynthetic" language (but even then, French can be argued to a limited level of polysynthetism, for instance in "je ne t'ai rien pris" /Z@ntErjE~'pRi/, where the negation, a mark of the indirect object and the direct object itself are incorporated in the the verbal form - the orthography hides the feature, that's why I added the pronunciation. It is really one phonological word -). AFAIK, it's the level beyond synthetism, where word and sentence become indistinguishable. But the flexional types are abstractions, and a language is a complex of flexional types, different types being used for different features (or even in the same feature, eg. ama-ba-nt, where -ba- and -nt are agglutinated together, but each marks more than one feature, -ba- marking both past tense and imperfective aspect, -nt marking both 3rd person and plural). So what you can say is that a language is e.g. "mostly agglutinating". Still, it doesn't mean that the language doesn't have synthetic features like consonnant gradation or vowel harmony. It just has them in a smaller extent as a "mostly synthetic" language. Christophe. Take your life as a movie: do not let anybody else play the leading role.