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An 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.
Isolating languages are often considered the same as analytic languages, although linguistic definitions of the two are not the same. Language isolation refers to the number of morphemes-per-word ratio; the lesser the morphemes, the more isolated the language. Analytic refers to how syntax and meaning is shaped more by its use of particles and word order than by inflection. The opposite of an isolated language is a synthetic language; the opposite of an analytic language is a inflecting language.
Features of analytic languagesEdit
Analytic languages often express abstract concepts using independent words, while synthetic languages tend to use adpositions, affixes and internal modifications of roots for the same purpose.
Analytic languages have stricter and more elaborate syntactic rules. Since words are not marked by morphology showing their role in the sentence, word order tends to carry a lot of importance; for example, Chinese and English make use of word order to show subject-object relationship. Chinese also uses word order to show definiteness (where English uses "the" and "a"), topic-comment relationships, the role of adverbs (whether they are descriptive or contrastive), and so on.
Analytic languages tend to rely heavily on context and pragmatic considerations for the interpretation of sentences, since they don't specify as much as synthetic languages in terms of agreement and cross-reference between different parts of the sentence.
Chinese (of all varieties) is perhaps the best-known analytic language. To illustrate:
As can be seen, each syllable (or sometimes two) corresponds to a single concept; Comparing the Chinese to the English translation, one sees that while English itself is fairly analytic, it contains some synthetic features, such as the bound morpheme -/s/ to mark either possession (in the form of a clitic) or number (in the form of a suffix).
|der Mann||die Männer|
Note that the morpheme "der" corresponds to four separate concepts simultaneously, and the morpheme "die" refers to three concepts (German does not distinguish gender in the plural), but the rules relating "der" and "die" in this manner are quite arbitrary, making this set of morphemes fusional in nature. It is worth mentioning that both "der" and "die" can function as a feminine singular definite article, depending on the grammatical case. Furthermore, the word "Männer" corresponds to two concepts and relates to "Mann" through both the plural marker /-er/ and a process of umlaut that changes "a" to "ä" in many German plurals. Thus, the formation of German plurals is a simple, rule-governed inflectional pattern.
As a result, German can be said to lie between the agglutinative and fusional areas of the spectrum of linguistic typology.
Bulgarian is the only analytic Slavic language - in its noun system - acquiring this feature from the Balkan linguistic union. This allows us to study the process. In the beginning, cases began to mix sounds; this paved the way for the distinctions between forms to be forgotten. Old relationships expressed by inflected words were, it is supposed, first replaced by prepositional phrases. If a preposition took an inflected word after itself, it was a short walk for the word to lose its declension.
br:Yezh dezrannel bg:Аналитичен език ca:Llengua analítica cs:Analytický jazyk da:Isolerende sprog de:Analytischer Sprachbau de:Isolierender Sprachbau es:Lengua analítica fr:Langue isolante gl:Lingua illante ko:고립어 (언어유형학) hu:Izoláló nyelv nl:Isolerende taalno:Isolerende språkfi:Analyyttinen kieli sv:Analytiska språk zh:孤立语
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