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Morphology. Morphological language variation. Ich arbeite Wir arbeit-en (German) I work we work- plural Ich arbeite-te I work -past ‘I worked’ Wir arbeite-te-(e)n we work -past-plural ‘We worked’. Fusion. grad singular gradovi plural (Serbo-Croat)

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Morphology l.jpg


Morphological language variation

Slide2 l.jpg

Ich arbeite Wir arbeit-en (German)

I work we work-plural

Ich arbeite-te

I work-past

‘I worked’

Wir arbeite-te-(e)n

we work-past-plural

‘We worked’

Fusion l.jpg

grad singular gradovi plural (Serbo-Croat)

grad masculine singular gradovi masculine plural

selo neuter singular sela neuter plural

grad nominative masc. sing. gradovi nominative masc. plur.

grad accusative masc. sing. gradove accusative masc. plur.

–ovi, –ove etc. are portmanteau morphemes: they express more than one inflectional category simultaneously.

Agglutination l.jpg

el hand‘hand’ (Turkish)

el-imhand-1poss ‘my hand’

el-im-iz hand-1poss-plur ‘our hand’

el-im-iz-i hand-1poss-plur-acc ‘our hand’

(in object function)

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A fusional paradigm

masculine neuter feminine

grad ‘city’ selo ‘village’ ovca ‘sheep’

sg pl sg pl sg pl

Nominative grad gradovi selo sela ovca ovce

Genitive grada gradova sela sela ovce ovaca

Dative gradu gradovima selu selima ovci ovcama

Accusative grad gradove selo sela ovcu ovce

Instrumental gradom gradovima selom selima ovcom ovcama

Locative gradu gradovima selu selima ovci ovcama


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Polysynthetic languages

Men-neki-ure-qepl-uwicwen-mek. (Chukchi)


‘Let us play ball for a long time at night.’

Pe-ke-ilot-aan-akin-it-o-to-ri. (Turkana)

‘They do not force me to do the washing for somebody all the time.’

Noun incorporation l.jpg
Noun incorporation

Yede a-seuan-mũ-ban. (Southern Tiwa)

that 2sg-man-see-past

‘You saw that man.’

#She is the schoolteacher of this.

(does not mean the same as ‘she is the teacher of this school’)

Verb incorporation l.jpg
Verb incorporation

Sue made Harry buy that book.

They let them work harder.

Mtsikana anau-gw-ets-a mtsuko.

girl agreement-fall-made-aspect waterpot

‘The girl made the waterpot fall’


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Adverb incorporation

Tpwi i-kay-a-pan-kiak. (Yimas)



‘We will pound sago tomorrow.’

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Subject and object agreement on verbs is necessary and sufficient in polysynthetic languages:

At’ééd ashkii yiyii-tsa. (Navajo)

girl boy 3sgobject-3sgsubject-saw

‘The girl saw the boy.’



‘She/he saw her/him.’

Nonconcatenative morphology l.jpg
Nonconcatenative morphology sufficient in polysynthetic languages:

‘Root-and-pattern’ morphology:

kataba ‘wrote’ (Standard Arabic)

yaktubu ‘writes’

kitab ‘book’

kutub ‘books’

maktaba ‘library’

Reduplication l.jpg
Reduplication sufficient in polysynthetic languages:

grapho ge-grapha lúo lé-luka

‘I write’ ‘I have written’ ‘I loosen’ ‘I have loosened’

(Ancient Greek)

anak anak-anak gunung gunung-gunung

‘child’ ‘children’ ‘mountain’ ‘mountains’


huil huil-huil speel speel-speel

‘cry’ ‘crying’ ‘play’ ‘playing’