Specializations > Typology and Descriptive Linguistics

Difference between agglutinative and inflecting/synthetic language


Hi everyone!

I am currently studying Linguistics (with Deaf Studies) and am in my 3rd and final year. I have a last exam in a morphology module tomorrow and one field that will be covered is language typology. We will be given different words and their translation of any language (e.g. in our practice test paper we had Turkish, "deniz" = "an ocean", "denize" = "to an ocean", "denizin" = "of an ocean", "evden" = "from a house" and so on) and then we need to give the Turkish morpheme for "ocean" etc. So far, that is not a problem for me. My problem is when it comes to classifying Turkish as an analytic, agglutinative, inflectional or polysynthetic language (I know it is agglutinative) and we need to explain our decision.
I know analytic and polysynthetic, and I also know the definitions for agglutinative and inflectional languages but I find it hard to distinguish between those two. It didn't help that our lecturer was off work for a long time and that we do not have a lot of examples to be able to compare. I've looked online to find more examples but I'm still quite clueless. I only know that agglutinative languages have no inflectional examples but that does not help me much..

I know it is quite last minute but does anyone have several examples that could help me to distinguish between those two types clearly?


Have you tried searching for "difference agglutinative inflectional"?

As a rule we do not provide direct answers to any kind of homework or test.

When I taught this to my students last term, I thought it would be  easier/faster to understand than it was for some of them. Looking at examples (the prototypical, extreme ones) for each type is a good start.

The basic difference is that an agglutinative language can be easily segmented into individual morphemes, while an inflectional/fusional language has phonological and semantic overlap or redundancy. Mostly this involves "fusion" with more than one meaning in a single morpheme.

You will find lots of discussion and many examples online. If you have a specific question let us know.


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