THEORY: THEORY isolating & other typologies (was: THEORY: Ergativity and polypersonalism)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Friday, January 21, 2005, 7:24|
On Thursday, January 20, 2005, at 04:43 , Andreas Johansson wrote:
> Quoting Tristan McLeay <conlang@...>:
>> One curious thing about English though is that it's often painted as a
>> relatively isolating language, but as I understand it (and I might be
>> *wildly* wrong here, which is the simplest explanation) German tends
>> not to use its genitive, preferring expressions including 'von', and
>> doesn't like its simple past tense, preferring expressions paralleling
>> English past perfects, whereas English enjoys the use of both... OTOH,
>> I've never heard anyone claiming that German's a relatively isolating
> I think the genitive is a bad example, since many would deny that English
> has an
> inflectional genitive at all.
That's right. the possesive 's is a clitic in modern English and attaches
itself to the end of the whole noun phrase; for example:
It is the guy you were telling me about's cat =
It the cat that belongs to the guy about whom you were telling me.
If 's was a genitive case ending it would have to be glued onto the end of
_guy_ - it ain't.
> A little-used on surely beats none!
>> BTW---if a language forms everything with clitics (like English seems
>> to want to), does it necessarily count as isolating or agglutinative or
>> something, or can it be whatever it darn well feels like based on other
As I have observed recently, natlangs have the horrible habit of not
fitting neatly into these typologies of 19th century linguists.
> I'd consider it isolating - clitics are syntactic words, and
> isolating/agglutinating primarily refers to syntax, not phonology (or
> that's my
Yes, to be agglutinating, the bound morphemes must be affixes. But the
borderline between clitics and affixes is IMO a tad fuzzy.
> It's been said that an extremely agglutinating language is
> from an extremely isolating one, tho.
Depending where put the white spaces, I suppose :)
Personally, I have doubts. It would be interesting see an example.
"If /ni/ can change into /A/, then practically anything
can change into anything"
Yuen Ren Chao, 'Language and Symbolic Systems"