Agglutinative Languages

Posted On: 9/21/2018

Agglutinative Language

In which several morphemes (some times also called monemes) are added to a noun or verb to denote case, number, gender, person, tense, etc. Words are a combination of roots and stems, to a degree which can be surprising to English speakers. In Turkish you can say "Cekoslavakyalilastiramadiklarimizdan misiniz" which means: Are you one of those that we could not have possibly turned into a Czechoslovakian? (Eek!)


	Cekoslovak: Czechoslovak
	yali: -ian
	lastir: to turn into 
	ma: not (a is just a connection letter here)
	di: past tense specifier in turned
	k: "we" specifier for the verb turn
	lar: plural specifier for those
	mi: not (i is just a connection letter here)
	z: "plural you" specifier for could
	dan: one of (or from, like I'm from Turkey)
	misiniz: are you? (formally, it's written separately as cek..... misiniz?)

Examples: Sumerian, Basque, Turkish, Finnish, Hungarian, the Caucasian languages, most American languages, KiSwahili, and Klingon.


The opposite would be an AnalyticLanguage. No language is totally analytical or totally agglutinative, it is a question of degree. English for example is a fairly AnalyticLanguage but still has agglutinative elements.


The opposite is usually called inflective...

  • No, actually "opposite" is merely ill-defined here.


Is WelshLanguage considered an AgglutinativeLanguage? Witness LlanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllLlantysiliogogogoch.

To me, that seems to be stretching the definition of word. Although there are no spaces, that hardly constitutes a single unit of language - at least to my simple mind. (See CulturalRelativist) (But I'm glad you pointed it out. I had no idea how wonderfully colorful the Turkish language is.)


  • Oh, has a widely agreed upon definition of "word" finally been achieved in theoretical linguistics? Kindly enlighten us. Or, if you are operating simply on the basis of your intuitions from being a speaker of English, yes, that is simple-minded...or more accurately, very parochial. This kind of complex compound word building is very common in languages world-wide.
  • See e.g. ISBN 0521818990 for recent research on what is a "word"; it's a difficult issue.


Question moved from WikiNameInRealLifeSyndromeWhat is an AgglutinativeLanguage? [answered] I take it that it involves the use of compound words, but to what extent do they have to be part of the language before it is considered agglutinative? [not explicitly answered but looks like 'yes']

  • This question is too incoherent to answer; please rephrase. However, "agglutinative" and "uses compound words" are not even close to being synonyms, so I think that incorrect things are being assumed even before the question is phrased.


See also ConcatenativeLanguage (I assume if we translate that concept to natural languages we get things like composita in German: take two any words and join them together to form a new word with a meaning derived from its parts)


That's a creative thought. But I don't think any ConcatenativeLanguages do that. Forth, for instance, has been claimed to build sentences. Not compound words.


Natural languages are very strange and complex creatures, every single one of them (notwithstanding objections from native speakers regarding them intuitively rather than from the vantage of linguistics). Any and all parallels with computer languages are doomed to be sharply flawed.


I agree. Analogies are just that: Analogies. You cannot use them to prove anything, but only use them for inspiration.



The only programming language I can think of that really is agglutinative is JayLanguage. There are standard symbols you can add to any function to transform it, such as "inverse". Also the notion of adding '.' or ':' to standard operators to obtain related operators seems agglutinative. Although perhaps the idea of syntactic sigils, such as '$' and '@' in PerlLanguage and RubyLanguage are also agglutinative (see TheProblemWithSigils).


Oh, and of course EtcLanguage, where this is known as "adhesive style".




Last edit August 4, 2006, See github about remodling.