12 October 2005


Another long day. I went to my office around eight thirty in the morning, and went home at eight fifteen in the evening. Almost twelve hours devoted to scholarly efforts. Well, I am not complaining.

So what was the highlight of the day? I finished doing the handout that I will be using for my lecture next week. It took me two days to do it, researching languages and their characteristics. I am lecturing on the different processes of word formation and how languages can be classified on how they form their words. So to show the different kinds of languages, I dug up data from Vietnamese, Mohawk, Tagalog, Sorsoganon, German, Syrian Colloquial Arabic, and Lango. All these languages appear on my handout and they give examples on how different languages form words.

A little lecture here (Everything is still fresh in my head, I need to take it out, so permit me.).

Languages can be classified as either an analytical language or a synthetic language. Within the synthetic category, there is the agglutinative, the fusional, or the polysynthetic. What are these?

An analytical language is a language in which every word is a single morpheme, a single word that is not derived from another word. Classical Chinese and Vietnamese are examples. That's why you get monosyllabic words but many different tones. Every syllable has a meaning in itself.

A language that is not analytical is a synthetic language. Depending on the level of complexity, a language can be an agglutinative, fusional, or polysynthetic. An agglutinative language is a language where there are a lot of derived words. Tagalog and Japanese are examples. The Japanese verbs for example, can be broken down into different parts, and every part signifies a certain meaning.

If the language is fusional, then the boundaries of the morphemes might be blurred and hard to designate. German and Spanish are examples. The German fahre, fahrst, fahrt, fahren, etc all mean "to drive". But the endings are different. The different endings signify the person and number of the subject. But the verb root fahr- doesn't appear in isolation, or by itself.

The most complicated ones are the polysynthetic languages. Some examples are Inuit and Mohawk. These languages have very complex word formation systems that it only takes one word to express a concept that in other languages, might be a whole sentence. The reason for this is because they use plenty of different affixes that attach to different parts of the root.

So, there is my lecture, a short summary of it.

Later in the day, after my classes, a student met with me, and so I gave some remedial lessons. She needed to catch up and I hope she did. We will be meeting again later in the week for me to check her assignments.

I am tired, I need to eat, too bad it's leftovers, but at least I am not cooking. I am too tired to cook. Ok, enough. Publish post.


  1. Oh, my. I only took one Ling. class in college. It was a tough one. But, it actually came in a little helpful when I had to take an Old English lit class, surprisingly.