Agglutinative language

An agglutinative language is a type of synthetic language with morphology that primarily uses agglutination: words may contain different morphemes to determine their meanings, but all of these morphemes (including stems and affixes) remain, in every aspect, unchanged after their unions, thus resulting in generally more easily deducible word meanings if compared to fusional languages, which allow modifications in either or both the phonetics or spelling of one or more morphemes within a word, usually shortening the word or providing easier pronunciation. Agglutinative languages have generally one grammatical category per affix while fusional languages have multiple. The term was introduced by Wilhelm von Humboldt to classify languages from a morphological point of view. It is derived from the Latin verb agglutinare, which means "to glue together".

Non-agglutinative synthetic languages are fusional languages; morphologically, they combine affixes by "squeezing" them together, drastically changing them in the process, and joining several meanings in a single affix (for example, in the Spanish word comí "I ate", the suffix -í carries the meanings of first person, singular number, past tense, perfective aspect, indicative mood, active voice.) The term agglutinative is sometimes incorrectly used as a synonym for synthetic. Used in this way, the term embraces both fusional languages and inflected languages. The agglutinative and fusional languages are two ends of a continuum, with various languages falling more toward one or the other end. For example, Japanese is generally agglutinative, but displays fusion in otōto (, younger brother), from oto+hito (originally woto+pito), and in its non-affixing verb conjugations. A synthetic language may use morphological agglutination combined with partial usage of fusional features, for example in its case system (e.g., German, Dutch, and Persian).

Agglutinative languages tend to have a high rate of affixes or morphemes per word, and to be very regular, in particular with very few irregular verbs. For example, Japanese has very few irregular verbs – only two are significantly irregular, and there are only about a dozen others with only minor irregularity; Ganda has only one (or two, depending on how "irregular" is defined); while in the Quechua languages, all the ordinary verbs are regular. In Turkish, there is only one irregular noun (su, meaning water), no irregular verbs other than the copular verbs, and two existential particles. Korean has only ten irregular forms of conjugation. Georgian is an exception; it is highly agglutinative (with up to eight morphemes per word), but it has a significant number of irregular verbs with varying degrees of irregularity.

Examples of agglutinative languages include:

Many languages spoken by Ancient Near East peoples were agglutinative:

Some well known constructed languages are agglutinative, such as Esperanto, Klingon, and Quenya.

This page was last edited on 24 March 2018, at 00:06.
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