Morphological Systems

Not all languages have inflectional morphology. Some languages have little or no morphology. Still other languages have relatively complex words with distinct parts, each representing a morpheme.

Traditionally these 3 types of languages have been identified as :
Inflectional
Isolating
Agglutinating

Inflectional Morphology

In such languages:

  • each word tends to be a single isolated morpheme
  • lack both derivational and inflectional morphology

Chinese is an oft-cited example of a language with isolating morphology. Chinese uses separate words to express certain content that an inflecting language can do only by inflection
E.g.

English permits both inflectional possessive
the boy’s hat
and what is called an analytical possessive
hat of the boy
Chinese permits only the equivalent of hat of the boy
Isolating Morphology

Chinese also lacks tense markers and does not mark gender, number or case distinctions on pronouns:
E.g.
I just will give you that one cup tea
I am about to bring you a cup of tea
Agglutinating Morphology

In these languages:

  • Words can have several prefixes and suffixes

but characteristically they are :

  • distinct and readily segmented into their parts

Greenlandic Eskimo is an example of an agglutinating language
E.g.
qajar-taa-va-asirur-sima-vuq
kayak-new-his-break-done-it
His new kayak has been destroyed

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