Polysynthetic Language

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Polysynthetic Language


a type of synthetic language in which all grammatical meanings are usually conveyed in a word composed of a long sequence of morphemes.

Most polysynthetic languages have an ergative-type structure, as is the case with the Chukchi-Kamchatka, Eskimo-Aleut, and Abkhazo-Adyg languages and many Indian languages of North and Central America. The maximum degree of affix stringing is observed in the verb form, which includes a series of suffixal, or prefixai and suffixal, morphemes indicating person (objective conjugation), number, version, mode of action, tense, mood, and so on. All forms are constructed according to the principle of agglutination by strict positional rules. Moreover, word-formation affixes are also often present in the word. The verb form in polysynthetic languages usually represents the content of an entire sentence, as in the Adygei qə-š′ə-s’°-fə-r-i-γ ǎ-tx̌əγ (“he made him write to you here”). Nominal forms are represented by shorter morphemic chains, since analytic elements are found in the substantive, as in the Eskimo ayΧasi-ki-η (“my two boats”). The phenomenon of incorporation also occurs in polysynthetic languages.


References in periodicals archive ?
These observations raise a problem I have not yet touched upon: how are so-called polysynthetic languages to be considered?
We begin to suspect that inflectional and polysynthetic languages have much in common.
Bowern (2006) mentions complex predicates in Australian languages (Bardi) and Johns (2005) mentions merging of nouns and light verbs in polysynthetic languages Inuktitut and Mahawk.
Polysynthetic languages are languages where not only affixes are added to a stem, but also other syntactically depending word stems.
1 Recently, Baker (2002) has initiated such studies with the comparative study of serial verbs in polysynthetic languages.
Syntactic models of polysynthetic languages cannot explain why some syntactic strings constitute sentences and others words, since they represent both in the same component.
The word is found in both Bininj Kunwok and neighbouring Dalabon and in each of these two polysynthetic languages, the root morrdjdjanj belongs to a limited group of eligible nouns which are incorporable in the verbal complex (underlined in the following example):
Though only incipient and not yet phonologized, pause placement in Dalabon verbs suggests a phonologydriven route by which polysynthetic languages may ultimately become less morphologically complex by fracturing into smaller units.
Polysynthetic languages pose particularly acute challenges because of the considerable size of the grammatical words involved.
Some recent studies of polysynthetic languages in North America have argued that, even though there may be good grounds for postulating large grammatical words, particularly in the case of verbs, the best candidates for phonological words are considerably smaller, so that a single grammatical word may comprise more than one phonological word.
Polysynthetic languages like Halkomelem have many affixes.
While complex, this view of transitivity is necessary to handle polysynthetic languages such as Halkomelem.