From Tim Bray’s “On Search: Squirmy Words” (29 June 2003):
Of course, the way that words twist and turn around is highly language-dependent. English is whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s called an Ã¢â‚¬Å“inflectedÃ¢â‚¬Â language, which is to say words change their form depending on their grammatical role: verb conjugation, singular/plural, and so on. (Interestingly, Ã¢â‚¬Å“inflectionÃ¢â‚¬Â has a common variant spelling: Ã¢â‚¬Å“inflexionÃ¢â‚¬Â.) Other languages (for example Turkish and Finnish) are Ã¢â‚¬Å“agglutinativeÃ¢â‚¬Â, where words are formed by combining Ã¢â‚¬Å“morphemes.Ã¢â‚¬Â The third most common category of languages is Ã¢â‚¬Å“analyticÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“isolatingÃ¢â‚¬Â, where words do not change and grammatical roles are established by sequences of words. The best-known example is written Chinese.
Posted on July 31st, 2006 by Scott Granneman
Filed under: language & literature