Morphological Types Of Languages

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Morphological TypologyLing 100 – Introduction to Linguistic ScienceGuest Lecture – Jonathan Manker26 February 2016

What is Typology? Linguistic typology is a branch of linguistics that attempts tocategorize languages based on similarities in structure (phonologicalinventories, grammatical constructions, word order, etc.)

Typological Map of Consonant Inventory Sizes

Morphological Typology Languages have a wide variety of morphological processes available(e.g. different types of affixation, etc.) for creating words and wordforms. However, languages vary with respect to what morphologicalprocesses are available, how frequently they are used, and whattypes of information can be encoded in these processes. In this lecture, we’ll look at differences in morphology among avariety of languages and learn to categorize these languages based ontheir morphological patterns.

What is a word? Before we discuss properties of word structure in different languages,we have to define what it is we mean when we refer to something asa ‘word.’ Question: Think about the two strings of sounds below. How manywords are in �]

So what ɪzidɔg] a sentence, but[æntaɪdɪsəstæblɪʃmɛnteɹiənɪzm̩] a word? (Both have 7-8 morphemes) There is no universal expectation for what words should be like indifferent languages. We will see examples in other languages thatare structurally similar to the first, but are considered a single word.

The Phonological Word Even for speakers of non-written languages there seems to be a concept of theword which is in some ways psychologically relevant. These intuitions about what words are often coincide with the domain of certainphonological rules which are sensitive to word boundaries and the word as a unitof structure and organization. These are usually language specific. Stress. In English, each content word will have exactly one primary stress. Dothe following examples all seem like single words? Where is their primary stress? dehumidifier recapitulation antidisestablishmentarianism

Phonological Evidence for the word Some languages have vowel harmony that applies to entire words--for example, in Turkish all the vowels in most words must be all frontvowels or all back vowels. We never find vowel harmony occurringover entire sentences. /el-ler-in/ ‘hand’-PLR-gen. vs. /at-lar-ɯn/ ‘horse,’-PLR-gen. We’ve also discussed phonotactic considerations: certainsequences of sounds cannot occur within syllables, but may bepermissible over word boundaries (e.g. [dzm], above in ‘wordsmust’)

Morphological Evidence for the Word Positional mobility --- word form as a whole can be moved. Eg. I love plums, Plums I love. vs. I love dehumidifiers, de I lovehumidifiers. (!) Uninterruptability --- extraneous material cannot be introduced intothe middle of a word-form. Eg. A dehumidifier, a, well, dehumidifier, a de, well, humidifer (!) Internal stability --- fixed order of morphemes within word forms Dehumidifiers, ifyshumiderde (!)

Morphological types across the world’slanguages Linguists can categorize languages based on their word-buildingproperties and usage of different affixation processes. The broadest distinction among languages is whether or notaffixation is allowed at all, or if every word must be a singlemorpheme. For languages that allow affixation, we can further categorize theseaccording to their morphological characteristics

Analytic and Isolating Languages Analytic languages have sentences composed entirely of free morphemes, whereeach word consists of only one morpheme. Isolating languages are “purely analytic” and allow no affixation (inflectional orderivational) at all. Sometimes analytic languages allow some derivationalmorphology such as compounds (two free roots in a single word) A canonically analytic language is Mandarin Chinese. Note that properties suchas “plural” and “past” comprise their own morphemes and their own words. [wɔ mən tantçin lə] 1st PLRplay piano PST ‘we played the piano’

Synthetic Languages Synthetic languages allow affixation such that words may (though arenot required to) include two or more morphemes. These languageshave bound morphemes, meaning they must be attached to anotherword (whereas analytic languages only have free morphemes). Synthetic languages include three subcategories: agglutinative,fusional, and polysynthetic.

Synthetic Language Type 1: Agglutinative Agglutinative languages have words which may consist of more thanone, and possibly many, morphemes. The key characteristic separating agglutinative languages from othersynthetic languages is that morphemes within words are easily parsedor “loosely” arranged; the morpheme boundaries are easy to identify.1:many word to morpheme ratio; 1:1 morpheme to meaning We often use the metaphor “beads on a string” to describeagglutinative languages.

Agglutinative languages Examples of canonical agglutinative languages include Turkish,Swahili, Hungarian el-ler-imiz-in (Turkish) hand-plr.-1st plr.-genitive case, ‘of our hands’ ni-na-soma(Swahili) I-present-read ‘I am reading’ (also u-na-soma ‘you read,’ ni-li-soma ‘I read,’ etc.)

Synthetic Language Type 2: Fusional Fusional languages, like other synthetic languages, may have more than onemorpheme per word However, fusional languages may have morphemes that combine multiplepieces of grammatical information; that is, there is not a clear 1 to 1relationship between grammatical information and morphemes For example, in Spanish: [ˈabl-o] ‘I am speaking’ -[o] suffix means 1st person sng., present tense [ˈabl-a] ‘s/he is speaking’ -[a] suffix means 3rd person sng. present tense [abl-ˈo] ‘s/he spoke’-[ˈo] suffix with stress means 3rd singular pasttense

Fusional Languages Latin fusion: [re:ksisti] ‘you all ruled’ There are four pieces of grammatical information and four morphs,however the ‘perfective’ meaning is shared among several morphs.

Synthetic Language Type 3: Polysynthetic Polysynthetic languages often display a high degree of affixation (high number ofmorphemes per word) and fusion of morphemes, like agglutinative and fusionallanguages. Additionally, however, polysynthetic languages may have words with multiplestems in a single word (which are not compounds). This may be achieved byincorporating the subject and object nouns into complex verb forms. For example:anin- ɲam-jɔ-te-n (Sora)he-catch-fish-nonpast-do ‘he is fish-catching’This is called noun incorporation, where the object ‘fish’ is incorporated in theverb ‘catch.’

Polysynthetic Languages Some of the most extreme examples come from Eskimo languagessuch as West Greenlandic: t ��all the ive ‘You simply cannot pretend not to be hearing all the time’

But in reality So we’ve looked at canonical examples of four types of languages:analytical, agglutinative, fusional, and polysynthetic. But languages often show elements of different morphological types. If a language is hard to classify as one of the four main types, it maybe considered “mixed.” The properties that distinguish these typesmay in fact be gradient rather than categorical.

Classifying languages into morphologicaltypes Ask yourself the following questions: 1) How many morphemes can occur in a single word? If the answer is one, or usually one, the language is analytical. Otherwise,it is probably synthetic. A language with a few might be fusional,agglutinative, or polysynthetic; A language with many is probablyagglutinative or polysynthetic (since fusional morphemes may containmultiple bits of grammatical information).

Classifying languages into morphologicaltypes 2) If the language allows affixation, are the morphemes easy todivide? Is each piece of grammatical information contained in asingle morpheme (and the reverse)?

Classifying languages into morphologicaltypes 3) Does the language allow words with multiple roots (such as nounincorporation)? If yes, the language is likely polysynthetic. These languages may also have a high degree of fusion and maycontain many morphemes in one word (see Greenlandic example) .

Practice – categorize the language Ancient Greek [lu-o:] ‘I release’ release-1st person singular present active indicative [lu-e:] ‘You should release’ release-2nd person singular present middle subjunctive [lu:-etai] ‘he is being released’ release-3rd person singular present passive indicative

Ancient Greek- fusional! Each word contains only two morphemes (so it’s not analytical), butthe suffix contains information about person, number, tense, mood,and voice

Practice – categorize the language Aztecan [ni-ki-ta] ‘I see it’ I-it-see [ni-ki-ta-k] ‘I saw it’ I-it-see-past

Aztecan - Agglutinative! Morphemes each contain one bit of information and are easilydivisible

Practice – categorize the language English ‘The boy will play with the dog.’ ‘John’s cat eats mice.’ ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’

English – mixed The first example is mostly analytical The second demonstrates some fusional properties The third shows a word that seems agglutinative Generally speaking, English has very little inflection left and has beenbecoming increasingly analytical, although words may contain manyderivational affixes.

Practice – categorize the language Han (Athabascan)‘we’re starting to work’‘we will hookcatch (fish)’

Han – polysynthetic! (noun incorporation. Also a high degree offusion) (Although interestingly enough, while verbs tend to be polysynthetic,nouns are almost analytical and can only have a single possessiveprefix--- no case, number, gender, definiteness, etc. is indicated).

Typological Overview of the World’sLanguages – WALS maps Looking across the world’s languages, we see groups of languages incommon geographical regions that have similar morphologicalcharacteristics.

Inflectional synthesis of the verb

(modern day languages)

Is this evidence of languages sharing a language family? Sometimes, but not always. Language families are defined by havinga genetic relationship, where elements of the language are passeddown (through time). Sometimes features, even morphological characteristics, can spreadamong languages that are spoken near each other, even whenunrelated. We call these areal features (e.g., see southeast Asia, N.America).

agglutinative, or polysynthetic; A language with many is probably agglutinative or polysynthetic (since fusional morphemes may contain multiple bits of grammatical information). lassifying languages into morphological types 2) If the language allows affixation, are the morphemes easy to

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