FACTOID # 22: South Dakota has the highest employment ratio in America, but the lowest median earnings of full-time male employees.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Polysynthetic language
Linguistic typology
Morphological
Analytic
Synthetic
Fusional
Agglutinative
Polysynthetic
Oligosynthetic
Morphosyntactic
Alignment
Accusative
Ergative
Philippine
Active-stative
Tripartite
Inverse marking
Syntactic pivot
Theta role
Word Order
VO languages
Agent Verb Object
Verb Agent Object
Verb Object Agent
OV languages
Agent Object Verb
Object Agent Verb
Object Verb Agent
Time Manner Place
Place Manner Time
This box: view  talk  edit

Polysynthetic languages are highly synthetic languages, i.e. languages in which words are composed of many morphemes. Linguistic typology is the typology that classifies languages by their features. ... Morphological typology was developed by brothers Friedrich and August von Schlegel. ... An analytic language (or isolating language) is a language in which the vast majority of morphemes are free morphemes and are considered to be full-fledged words. By contrast, in a synthetic language, a word is composed of agglutinated or fused morphemes that denote its syntactic meanings. ... A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-to-word ratio. ... A fusional language (also called inflecting language) is a type of synthetic language, distinguished from agglutinative languages by its tendency to squish together many morphemes in a way which can be difficult to segment. ... It has been suggested that Agglutination be merged into this article or section. ... Oligosynthetic (from the Greek ολίγοι, meaning few) is a hypothetical designation for a language using an extremely small array of morphemes, perhaps numbering only in the hundreds, which combine synthetically to form statements. ... Morphology is a subdiscipline of linguistics that studies word structure. ... In linguistics, morphosyntactic alignment is the system used to distinguish between the arguments of transitive verbs and intransitive verbs. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... An ergative-absolutive language (or simply ergative) is one that treats the agent of transitive verbs distinctly from the subject of intransitive verbs and the object of transitive verbs. ... An active language is one where the only argument of an intransitive verb (that is, the subject) is marked sometimes in the same way as the subject of a transitive verb, and some other times in the same way as the direct object of a transitive verb. ... A tripartite language is one that marks the agent, experiencer, and patient verb arguments each in different ways. ... A direct-inverse language is one where morphosyntactic markers vary according to compliance or non-compliance with normal rules governing the neutral order of verb arguments with respect to the position of each on the animacy hierarchy, similar to the way that Indo-European neuters were not originally regarded as... The syntactic pivot is the verb argument around which sentences revolve, in a given language. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Thematic role. ... Word order, in linguistic typology, refers to the order in which words appear in sentences across different languages. ... In linguistics, a VO language is a language in which the verb typically comes before the object. ... In linguistic typology, agent-verb-object (AVO), commonly called subject-verb-object (SVO), is a sentence structure where the agent comes first, the verb second, and the object third. ... Verb Agent Object (VAO) or Verb Subject Object (VSO) is a term in linguistic typology. ... Verb Object Agent or Verb Object Subject - commonly used in its abbreviated form VOA or VOS - is a term in Linguistic typology. ... In linguistics, an OV language is a language in which the object comes before the verb. ... In linguistic typology, Agent Object Verb (AOV) or Subject Object Verb (SOV) is the type of languages in which the agent, object, and verb of a sentence appear (usually) in that order. ... Object Agent Verb (OAV) or Object Subject Verb (OSV) is one of the permutations of expression used in Linguistic typology. ... Object Verb Agent (OVA) or Object Verb Subject (OVS) is one of the permutations of expression used in linguistic typology. ... Time Manner Place is a term used in linguistic typology to state the general order of adpositional phrases in a languages sentences: yesterday by car to the store. It is common among SOV languages. ... Place Manner Time is a term used in linguistic typology to state the general order of adpositional phrases in a languages sentences: to the store by car yesterday. It would seem that it is common among SVO languages. ... A synthetic language, in linguistic typology, is a language with a high morpheme-to-word ratio. ... In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest lingual unit that carries a semantic interpretation. ...

Contents

Definition

The degree of synthesis refers to the morpheme-to-word ratio. Languages with more than one morpheme per word are synthetic. Polysynthetic languages lie at the extreme end of the synthesis continuum with a very high number of morphemes per word (at the other extreme are isolating or analytic languages with only one morpheme per word). These highly synthetic languages often have very long words that correspond to complete sentences in less synthetic languages. In morpheme-based morphology, a morpheme is the smallest lingual unit that carries a semantic interpretation. ... A word is a unit of language that carries meaning and consists of one or more morphemes which are linked more or less tightly together. ... An analytic language (or isolating language) is a language in which the vast majority of morphemes are free morphemes and are considered to be full-fledged words. By contrast, in a synthetic language, a word is composed of agglutinated or fused morphemes that denote its syntactic meanings. ...


Many, if not most, languages regarded as polysynthetic include agreement with object arguments as well as subject arguments in verbs. Incorporation (primarily noun incorporation) has been an issue that has historically been confused with polysynthesis and also used as a criterion for its definition. Incorporation refers to the phenomenon where lexical morphemes (or lexemes) are combined together to form a single word. Not all polysynthetic languages are incorporating, and not all incorporating languages are polysynthetic. Incorporation is a phenomenon by which a word, usually a verb, forms a kind of compound with, for instance, its direct object or adverbial modifier, while retaining its original syntactic function. ... Definition A lexeme is a unit of linguistic analysis. ...


A contrast was made by some linguists between oligosynthetic and polysynthetic languages, where the former term was applied to languages with relatively few morphemes. The distinction is not widely used today. Oligosynthetic (from the Greek ὀλίγος, meaning few, little) is a hypothetical designation for a language using an extremely small array of morphemes, perhaps numbering only in the hundreds, which combine synthetically to form statements. ...


Mark C. Baker has tried to define polysynthesis as a syntactic macroparameter within Noam Chomsky's "principles and parameters" programme. He defines polysynthetic languages as languages that conform to the syntactic rule that he calls the "polysynthesis parameter" and which as a result show a special set of morphological and syntactic properties. The polysynthesis parameter states that all phrasal heads must be marked with either agreement morphemes of their direct argument or else incorporate these arguments in that head. This definition of polysynthesis leaves out some languages that are commonly stated as examples of polysynthetic languages (such as Inuktitut), but can be seen to be the reason of certain common structural properties in others such as Mohawk and Nahuatl. Baker's definition, probably because of its heavy dependence on Chomskian theory, has not been accepted as a general definition of polysynthesis. Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is the Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Principles and parameters refers to a popular framework in generative linguistics. ... Incorporation is a phenomenon by which a word, usually a verb, forms a kind of compound with, for instance, its direct object or adverbial modifier, while retaining its original syntactic function. ... Inuktitut (Inuktitut syllabics: ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ, literally like the Inuit) is the language of the Inuit people. ... Mohawk is a Native American language spoken in the United States and Canada. ... Nahuatl ( [1] is a term applied to a group of related languages and dialects of the Aztecan [2] branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family, indigenous to central Mexico. ...


Origin of term

The term "polysynthesis" was probably first used in a linguistic sense by Peter Stephen Duponceau (a.k.a. Pierre Étienne Duponceau) in 1819 as a term to describe American languages:

Three principal results have forcibly struck my mind... They are the following:
  1. That the American languages in general are rich in grammatical forms, and that in their complicated construction, the greatest order, method and regularity prevail
  2. That these complicated forms, which I call polysynthesis, appear to exist in all those languages, from Greenland to Cape Horn.
  3. That these forms appear to differ essentially from those of the ancient and modern languages of the old hemisphere. (Duponceau 1819:xxii-xxiii)
The manner in which words are compounded in that particular mode of speech, the great number and variety of ideas which it has the power of expressing in one single word; particularly by means of the verbs; all these stamp its character for abundance, strength, and comprehensiveness of expression, in such a manner, that those accidents must be considered as included in the general descriptive term polysynthetic. (Duponceau 1819:xxvii)
I have explained elsewhere what I mean by a polysynthetic or syntactic construction of language.... It is that in which the greatest number of ideas are comprised in the least number of words. This is done principally in two ways. 1. By a mode of compounding locutions which is not confined to joining two words together, as in the Greek, or varying the inflection or termination of a radical word as in the most European languages, but by interweaving together the most significant sounds or syllables of each simple word, so as to form a compound that will awaken in the mind at once all the ideas singly expressed by the words from which they are taken. 2. By an analogous combination of various parts of speech, particularly by means of the verb, so that its various forms and inflections will express not only the principal action, but the greatest possible number of the moral ideas and physical objects connected with it, and will combine itself to the greatest extent with those conceptions which are the subject of other parts of speech, and in other languages require to be expressed by separate and distinct words.... Their most remarkable external appearance is that of long polysyllabic words, which being compounded in the manner I have stated, express much at once.(Duponceau 1819:xxx-xxxi)

The terms synthetic and polysynthetic were first used in the modern sense by Edward Sapir in the 1920s. Cape Horn from the South. ... Edward Sapir. ...


Examples

Examples of polysynthetic languages include Inuktitut, Mohawk, Classical Ainu, Central Siberian Yupik, Cherokee, Sora, Chukchi and numerous other languages of the Americas, Siberia, Caucasus and northern Australia. Note: This page contains phonetic information presented in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) using Unicode. ... Mohawk is a Native American language spoken in the United States and Canada. ... The Ainu language (Ainu: , aynu itak; Japanese: ainu-go) is spoken by the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. ... The Yupik people speak five distinct languages, depending on their location. ... Cherokee (Cherokee: Tsalagi) is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people. ... Chukchi (Luoravetlan (in native language), Chukot, Chukcha) is a Palaeosiberian language spoken by circa 10,400 people (2001) (Chukchi) in the easternmost extremity of Siberia, mainly in the region called Chukotka. ...


Chukchi

An example from Chukchi, a polysynthetic, incorporating, and agglutinating language: Chukchi (Luoravetlan (in native language), Chukot, Chukcha) is a Palaeosiberian language spoken by circa 10,400 people (2001) (Chukchi) in the easternmost extremity of Siberia, mainly in the region called Chukotka. ...

Təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən.
t-ə-meyŋ-ə-levt-pəγt-ə-rkən
1.SG.SUBJ-great-head-hurt-PRES.1
'I have a fierce headache.'   (Skorik 1961: 102)

Təmeyŋəlevtpəγtərkən has a 5:1 morpheme-to-word ratio with 3 incorporated lexical morphemes (meyŋ 'great', levt 'head', pəγt 'ache'). In linguistics, the term grammatical number refers to ways of expressing quantity by inflecting words. ... The subject of a sentence is one of the two main parts of a sentence, the other being the predicate. ... The present tense is the tense (form of a verb) that is often used to express: Action at the present time A state of being A habitual action An occurrence in the near future An action that occurred in the past and continues up to the present There are two...


Basque

An example from modern Basque, a polysynthetic and agglutinating language: Basque (in Basque: Euskara) is the language spoken by the Basque people who inhabit the Pyrenees in North-Central Spain and the adjoining region of South-Western France. ...

      Liburuxkakoak bazenekarzkit bila nindoakizuke.
      Liburu-ko-ak ba-zen-ekar-z-ki-t bila nind-oa-ki-zu-ke
      book-DIM-GEN-POSS-ABS.PL COND-3.SING.ERG-PAST-carry-PRE DAT-1.SING.DAT-IRR 1.SING.ABS-PAST-go-PRE DAT-2.DAT.PL-IRR-PAST
      'If you brought those of the small books to me I would go to you to get them.'

Classical Ainu

From Classical Ainu, another polysynthetic, incorporating, and agglutinating language: In ergative-absolutive languages, the absolutive is the grammatical case used to mark both the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. ... In ergative-absolutive languages, the ergative case identifies the subject of a transitive verb. ... Irrealis is a type of verb form used when speaking of an event which has not happened, is not likely to happen, or is otherwise far removed from the real course of events. ... In ergative-absolutive languages, the absolutive is the grammatical case used to mark both the subject of an intransitive verb and the object of a transitive verb. ... Irrealis is a type of verb form used when speaking of an event which has not happened, is not likely to happen, or is otherwise far removed from the real course of events. ... The Ainu language (Ainu: , aynu itak; Japanese: ainu-go) is spoken by the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. ...

      Usaopuspe aejajkotujmasiramsujpa.
      usa-opuspe a-e-jaj-ko-tujma-si-ram-suj-pa
      various-rumors 1-APL-REFL-far-REFL-heart-sway-ITER
      'I keep swaying my heart afar and toward myself over various rumors.' (i.e., I wonder about various rumors.)
(Shibatani 1990: 72)

The word aejajkotujmasiramsujpa has a total of 9 morphemes with 2 lexical morphemes (tujma 'far', ram 'heart') incorporated into the verb. The applicative voice is a grammatical voice which promotes an oblique argument of a transitive verb to the (core) patient argument. ... In grammar, a reflexive verb is a verb whose semantic agent and patient (typically represented syntactically by the subject and the direct object) are the same. ... In linguistics, the grammatical aspect of a verb defines the temporal flow (or lack thereof) in the described event or state. ...

Western Greenlandic

Languages with a high degree of synthesis but without canonically productive noun incorporation include Central Siberian Yupik and Western Greenlandic. The Yupik people speak five distinct languages, depending on their location. ...


An example from Western Greenlandic, a polysynthetic and agglutinating language (Fortescue 1983:97; cited in Evans and Sasse 2002):

Aliikusersuillammassuaanerartassagaluarpaalli.
aliiku-sersu-i-llammas-sua-a-nerar-ta-ssa-galuar-paal-li
entertainment-provide-SEMITRANS-one.good.at-COP-say.that-REP-FUT-sure.but-3.PL.SUBJ/3SG.OBJ-but
'However, they will say that he is a great entertainer, but ...'

(12:1 ratio) A transitive verb is a verb that requires both a subject and one or more objects. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... It has been suggested that Future perfect tense be merged into this article or section. ... An object in grammar is a sentence element and part of the sentence predicate. ...

Northwest Caucasian

The Northwest Caucasian languages are extremely polysynthetic with regard to their verbs; the verb carries agreement for virtually every noun or pronoun argument in the sentence. A small degree of incorporation may also be involved. The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called Pontic or Abkhaz-Adyg/Circassian, are a group of languages spoken in Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Kabardino-Balkaria (an autonomous republic in Russia) and Abkhazia ( de facto independent formally an autonomous republic in Georgia). ...


An example from Ubykh: This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

aχʲazbatʂʾaʁawdətʷaajlafaqʾajtʾmadaχ!
a-χʲa-z-batʂʾa-ʁa-w-də-tʷ-aaj-la-fa-qʾa-jtʾ-ma-da-χ
them-BEN-me-under-ABL-you-CAUS-take-ITER-all-POT-PAST-IMPF-NEG-COND-OPT
'If only you had not been able to make him take it all out from under me again for them!'

This one word contains 16 explicit morphemes, even without the incorporated nouns typical of many Ubykh verbs. The benefactive case is a case used where English would use for, for the benefit of, or intended for. ... For the physical process, see ablation. ... A causative form, in linguistics, is an expression of an agent causing or forcing a patient to perform an action (or to be in a certain state). ... The past tense is a verb tense expressing action, activity, state or being in the past. ... The imperfective aspect, sometimes known as the continuous or progressive aspect, is a grammatical aspect. ... Negative has meaning in several contexts: Look up negative in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... The conditional mood (sometimes described as the conditional tense) is a verb form in many languages (not in English). ... The optative mood is a grammatical mood that indicates a wish or hope. ...

Distribution of polysynthetic languages

Polysynthetic languages have arisen in many places around the world. The list below gives some families that are stereotypically polysynthetic, although some members of the families may be less so than others.


Africa

Europe Map showing the approximate distribution of Bantu (dull yellow) vs. ...

Siberia and North America: Basque may refer to: Look up Basque in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

Central America: Eskimo-Aleut languages Eskimo-Aleut is a language family native to Greenland, the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, and parts of Siberia. ... Athabaskan or Athabascan (also Athapascan or Athapaskan) is the name of a large group of distantly related Native American peoples, also known as the Athabasca Indians or Athapaskes, and of their language family. ... Pre-contact distribution of Algonquian languages The Algonquian (also Algonkian) languages are a subfamily of Native American languages that includes most of the languages in the Algic language family (the two Algic languages that are not Algonquian are Wiyot and Yurok of northwestern California). ... Pre-contact distribution of the Siouan languages The Siouan (a. ...

South America: The Mayan languages , it has become conventional to use the form Mayan when referring to the languages, or an aspect of the language. ... The Totonacan Languages are a family of closely-related languages spoken by approximately 200,000 speakers in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, and Hidalgo in Mexico. ... Pre-contact distribution of Uto-Aztecan languages (note: this map does not show the distribution in Mesoamerica) The Uto-Aztecan languages are a Native American language family. ... The Mixe-Zoque languages are a language family spoken in and around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. ...

Caucasus: The Quechuan languages are a family of related languages in South America. ... Guaraní (local name: avañeẽ ) is an Amerindian language of South America that belongs to the Tupí-Guaraní subfamily. ... Mapudungun (mapu means earth and dungun means to speak) (also Mapudungu, Araucano, Araukano, Mapuche, Araucanian) is a language isolate spoken in central Chile and west central Argentina by the Mapuche (mapu is earth and che means people) people. ...

Oceania: The Northwest Caucasian languages, also called Pontic or Abkhaz-Adyg/Circassian, are a group of languages spoken in Caucasian Russia, Turkey, Jordan, Kabardino-Balkaria (an autonomous republic in Russia) and Abkhazia ( de facto independent formally an autonomous republic in Georgia). ... The Northeast Caucasian languages, also called East Caucasian, Caspian, Nakh-Dagestanian, or Dagestanian, are a family of languages spoken mostly in the Dagestan, Chechnya, and Ingushetia regions of Russia, in Northern Azerbaijan, and in Georgia. ...

Theoretical issues

Not all languages can be easily classified as being completely polysynthetic. Morpheme and word boundaries are not always clear cut, and languages may be highly synthetic in one area but less synthetic in other areas (compare verbs and nouns in Southern Athabaskan languages). The term Papuan languages refers to those languages of the western Pacific which are neither Austronesian nor Australian. ... Tiwi is a language spoken on the Tiwi Islands. ... The Gunwinyguan languages form the second largest family of Australian Aboriginal languages. ... Southern Athabaskan (also Apachean) refers to members of the Athabaskan language family (including Navajo) spoken in the Northern American Southwest. ...

Bibliography

  • Baker, Mark. (1988). Incorporation: A theory of grammatical function changing.
  • Baker, Mark. (1996). The polysynthesis parameter.
  • Boas, Franz. (1911). Handbook of American Indian languages (Part 1).
  • Brighton, D. G. (n.d. [before 1893]). Polysynthesis and incorporation as characteristics of American languages.
  • Comrie, Bernard. (1989). Language universals and linguistic typology (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  • Duponceau, Peter S. (1819). Report of the corresponding secretary to the committee, of his progress in the investigation committed to him of the general character and forms of the languages of the American Indians: Read, 12th Jan. 1819. In Transactions of the Historical & Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia, for promoting useful knowledge (Vol. 1, pp. xvii-xlvi).
  • Evans, Nicholas; & Sasse, Hans-Jürgen. (2002). Problems of polysynthesis. Berlin: Akademie Verlag. ISBN 3-05-003732-6.
  • Fortescue, Michael. (1983). A comparative manual of affixes for the Inuit dialects of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska. Meddelelser om Grømland, Man & society (No. 4). Copenhagen: Nyt Nordisk Forlag.
  • Fortescue, Michael. (1994). Morphology, polysynthetic. In R. E. Asher & J. M. Y. Simpson (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics.
  • Hewitt, John N. B. (1893). Polysynthesis in the languages of the American Indians. American Anthropologist, 6, 381-407.
  • von Humboldt, Wilhelm. (1836). Über die Verschiedenheit des menschichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einfluß auf die geistige Entwicklung des Menschengeschlechts. Berlin: Königliche Akadamie der Wissenschaften.
  • Jacobson, Steven A. (1977). A grammatical sketch of Siberian Yupik Eskimo (pp. 2-3). Fairbanks: Alaska Native Languages Center, University of Alaska.
  • Jelinek, Eloise. (1984). Empty categories, case, and configurationality. Natural language and linguistics theory, 2, 39-76.
  • de Reuse, Willem J. Central Siberian Yupik as a polysynthetic language.
  • Sapir, Edward. (1911). Problem of noun incorporation in American Indian languages. American Anthropologist, 13, 250-282.
  • Osborne, C.R., 1974. The Tiwi language. Canberra: AIAS
  • Sapir, Edward. (1921). Language: An introduction to the study of speech (Chap. 6). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
  • Schleicher, August. (1848). Zur vergleichenden Sprachengeschichte.
  • Shibatani, Masayoshi. (1990). The languages of Japan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Shopen, Timothy. (1985). Language typology and syntactic description: Grammatical categories and the lexicon (Vol. 3). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Skorik, P. Ja. (1961). Grammatika čukotskogo jazyka: Fonetika i morfologija imennyx častej reči (Vol. 1, p. 102). Leningrad: Nauka.
  • Whitney, William D. (1875). The life and growth of language.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Kids.Net.Au - Encyclopedia > Agglutinative (242 words)
Agglutinative languages are the most common form of polysynthetic language, and are usually highly inflected.
The opposite of a polysynthetic language is an analytic, or isolating language.
Polysynthetic languages which are not agglutinative are called fusional languages; they combine morphemes by "squeezing" them together, often changing the morphemes drastically in the process.
Chapter 6. Types of Linguistic Structure. Edward Sapir. 1921. Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech (7279 words)
Aside from the expression of pure relation a language may, of course, be “formless”—formless, that is, in the mechanical and rather superficial sense that it is not encumbered by the use of non-radical elements.
Those languages that always identify the word with the radical element would be set off as an “isolating” group against such as either affix modifying elements (affixing languages) or possess the power to change the significance of the radical element by internal changes (reduplication; vocalic and consonantal change; changes in quantity, stress, and pitch).
Languages are in constant process of change, but it is only reasonable to suppose that they tend to preserve longest what is most fundamental in their structure.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m