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Clear up a little confusion with some clear examples[edit]

Cross-referencing concepts, I found some serious confusion in wikipedia on the concepts of agglutination, inflection (and fusional languages) and isolating languages. For instance, English is described as an isolating language, and then you immediately proceed to give extensive and common examples of agglutination from English, which sends a mixed message. Conflicting descriptions of languages (such as German) are offered on several of these pages. It seems to me these concepts were not clearly elucidated, which is why people are confusing things so much. Allow me to offer the following simple brightlines to distinguish agglutantive, fusional, and isolating languages:

1. ISOLATING LANGUAGES: One word = One phoneme = one concept.
Thus, in Mandarin Chinese, and isolating language, the word for I is 我, while the possesive form (my) is indicated by adding a particle:我的... Or the passive voice is expressed with another particle 对我,etc. Thus the relationship between the word and the overall grammar of a statement is expressed through the use of additional independent words.
2. FUSIONAL LANGUAGES: One word = many phonemes, One phoneme = many concepts.
I call this inflection because fusion doesn't sound particularly different from "synthetic", although some may split lexical hairs with me. Inflected languages have a root, to which is normally added a single suffix which expresses many different meanings simultaneously. For instance, in Sanskrit, a heavily inflected language, the root of the verb to speak, वद् is conjugated to reflect many things at once. For instance, वदन्ति is वद (to speak) + न्ति a sufix denoting A. Present tense, B. Third person, C. Plural. The same verb, in the present tense, but spoken in the dual and second person, would be वदथ: with the sufix -थ: simultaneously representing A. Present tense, B. Second Person, and C. Dual.
3. AGGLUTINATIVE LANGUAGES: One word = many phonemes, One phoneme = one concept.
Agglutinative languages combine the synthetic aspects of Inflected languages with the clarity of isolating languages, as far as I can tell: one suffix or prefix per meaning, often times linking many sufixes and prefixes together, and each prefix is applied independent of the greater context of the word. For instance, the difference between gendered words, which is important in inflected languages, is largely irrelevant in agglutinative languages.

Thus, although English has examples of all three, due to its considerable use of loan-words, I believe it is safe to say that the majority of English grammar is agglutinative. And since this is an english article, presumably for english speakers, being clear about this is key for helping readers understand the concept.

In English some plural nouns (mostly Latin or Greek) are inflected, for instance Octopus and Octopi. Some nouns are isolated, e.g. One sheep, two sheep. Most nouns are agglutanative, with the suffix -s universally added. (Cats, Dogs)
Some verbs are not agglutinated, such as I go now, I went before. Most are agglutinative: I post. I posted. I am posting. Using universal sufixes like -ing or -ed.
A significant part of English vocabulary consists of varrious neologism that are constructed through agglutination. For instance, if I want to say something has the quality of being a "freak" I would simply agglutinate the suffix -ish onto the end, creating the adjective "freakish." Intuitive understanding of agglutination in English is so strong that native speakers commonly feel free to improvise new vocabulary using this principle. The article actually makes note of this, immediately after saying that English is an isolating language.

As far as I can tell, there is no objective criteria that English meets to be defined as an Isolating language. So I feel that it is missleading to state that "english is an isolating language" except for most of the time, when we use agglutination. That's like saying "Sandwiches are all hamburgers, except for when they sometimes don't have hamburger in them." I'm going to be bold and remove any categorization of English. That is to say, I'm not arguing English is agglutanative, but I am saying English is definitely not an isolating language.

[[[User:Ouyangwulong|Ouyangwulong]] (talk) 08:14, 23 August 2009 (UTC)]

Merge proposal[edit]

This article repeats or overlaps with information at agglutinative language. Either we merge the two, or take out most of the example info in this one and put it in the other. Agglutinative language is a fuzzy term, but it's naturally defined as a language that uses (mostly) agglutination as opposed to fusion. Unless someone finds a way to discuss agglutination in abstracto, I suggest a merge. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 15:22, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

Agglutination as a process is different from agglutinative languages, as shown by agglunation in languages that are not considered agglutinative, such as English. Merger would be like merging ampere and electric current. But, a lot of material that is in the article Agglutination belongs to Agglutinative language, and vice versa. --Vuo 22:17, 2 December 2005 (UTC)
That's why I said the term is fuzzy. English is of course agglutinative, but not primarily agglutinative. We seem to agree on the need to redistribute the content between the two articles. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 14:13, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I go with Vuo and would not support the idea of merging this article with Agglutination Languages. However I do agree that this article needs to be redone and discussed in abstracto -- Tejaswi26 February 2006

Those examples[edit]

I believe the examples given for Tamil are not Agglutinative at all - they are just compound words. The word sevvaanam is just the combination of Sevvappu - red and vaanam -sky. Same goes for sokkathangam. I believe a better example of agglutination is the word is "Kannathil" - the suffix "il" changes the word Kannam (cheek) to Kannathil (on/in the cheek). The same suffix can apply to any word - thamizhil (in tamil), Englishil (in English) etc. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:12, 14 March 2012 (UTC)

I've reverted the small change in the Japanese example. The root of the verb hataraku "work" is hatarak-, not hatara-, even if there's no way to indicate the lone k in hiragana. The syllabic nature of the Japanese script has nothing to do with the morphemic boundary. I added Japanese kanji and hiragana for the examples; are these correct? (I used 働かせられたら)Ekoontz 03:24, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

I disagree with the need of having "Guiness record examples". If there's actually an agglutinative Hungarian word that is in the Guiness Book, then mention it with a reference to the book (or better, mention it in Hungarian language). I think the reader can get the point with one moderately long and common sample word from each language. Those overlong and admittedly never used Hungarian words are unencyclopedic trivia. --Pablo D. Flores (Talk) 14:13, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

The Turkish example translation to Engish is ungrammatical ("Are you one of those whom we could not make become Australian?"); can a Turkish speaker try to fix the translation? Ekoontz 03:24, 19 November 2006 (UTC)

(on second thought i guess "could not make become Australian" is grammatical; it just sounds awkward!) Ekoontz 07:54, 3 December 2006 (UTC)


Should it be mentioned that the Finnish example has some flection (järki : järje-). --Muhaha 18:42, 11 January 2007 (UTC)

I think the finnish example should be taken out. There is no need for these sensationalist pseudowords, when they do not reflect natural language use and when natural language examples would suffice.--AkselGerner (talk) 21:52, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

German and other languages[edit]

The image caption describes German as an example of an inflected language in contrast to the agglutinative Hungarian. Is this a valid comparison? I know virtually nothing about Hungarian but I believe German is normally considered highly agglutinative as well as being highly inflected. I actually thought Hungarian was considered inflected as well although perhaps not to the degree German is. I am not sure if Hungarian is perhaps more inflected than German but, even if it is, the description seems to imply that German is not agglutinative at all.

Romanian, of course, is not significantly agglutinative as it is derived from Latin.

--Mcorazao 19:20, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I don't see the usefulness of that image at all. There's no way to tell if the difference stems from compounding or from agglutination if you don't know hungarian. A better example would be ones involving a sentence, rather than a composite noun.--AkselGerner (talk) 21:56, 18 April 2008 (UTC)
No comment on the image, but yes, Hungarian is usually considered agglutinating, and German is considered inflecting/ fusional.
A related question: someone has stated that Navajo is often considered fusional. I have never heard that, afaik it's almost stereotypically agglutinating. At the very least, the claim needs a citation. I added a "citation needed" tag. Mcswell (talk) 03:52, 16 October 2017 (UTC)

Since when did english become isolating???[edit]

Even if the genitive is disregarded, in english the plural suffix -s is obligatory with a plural referent except for "committee"-type nouns. How can that be isolating?--AkselGerner (talk) 22:02, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Since the 1600s, with the loss of the -st and -th endings on verbs :-). All seriousness aside, the range of isolating vs. fusional vs. agglutinating is on a scale. English is not completely isolating, for the reasons you mention (plus -s, -ing, -ed on verbs). But it's much closer to the isolating end of the spectrum than stereotypical fusional languages like Spanish (which has virtually obligatory suffixes on verbs) or German (with case marking and verbal morphology). Mcswell (talk) 03:57, 16 October 2017 (UTC)

agglutinative vs fusional[edit]

From "Agglutination" article: In linguistics, agglutination is the morphological process of adding affixes to the base of a word.

Native speakers of strongly agglutinating languages untrained in linguistics cannot usually break down an agglutinated word into its components.

I'm still not clear on what precisely is the difference between agglutinative and fusional, how a language is categorized into one of these categories. The article needs to provide more explanation about what is the distinguishing feature of agglutinating languages. If some agglutinating languages are difficult to break down into their components, why are they not classed as fusional? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:16, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Clean up Needed[edit]

Languages have morphemes, but this article doesn't distinguish between adding a morpheme and agglutination very well. By the definition it has, all languages would have agglutination... which is very confusing.--Hitsuji Kinno (talk) 20:40, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

Linguistic heaven[edit]

This was one of the most funny articles i tried (very hard ;) to read ! () (talk) 13:18, 3 February 2011 (UTC) Ray Meng

Yes, for a person with no background in linguistic studies, this entire article is utterly incomprehensible. I think I'll have to take an entire introductory linguistics course before I can attempt to read this article — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:47, 16 May 2012 (UTC)

Perhaps we could use an easier to understand language that is still agglutinative, such as Newspeak from Orwell's 1984. Simple enough to understand, it is technically an agglutinative language (I believe one of the characters even mentioned that one day there would just be one word, and everything would just be prefixes and suffixes, but don't quote me on that, I would need to check the source) just a thought, after all, what's an easier to understand agglutinative language to English speakers than an agglutinative version of English? Or should I say, Oldspeak? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:19, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Someone has indeed added Newspeak. But you can't tell from the examples that it's agglutinating, and I question whether it is. The examples are more about derivational morphology ('goodly' is an adverb derived from an adjective), and certainly don't demonstrate agglutination. Unless someone has better examples (with, say, 3 or 4 inflectional affixes on a single word), then I think the section about Newspeak should be removed. Mcswell (talk) 03:44, 16 October 2017 (UTC)


Is there a reason for Basque being in the "Americas" section?? (talk) 16:06, 1 March 2013 (UTC)

Unhelpful image[edit]

The middle sign is in Hungarian, which agglutinates extensively. (The top and bottom signs are in Romanian and German, respectively, both inflecting languages.)

Just how is this supposed to be helpful or informative? The Hungarian is 4 words, the Romanian is 6 words, and the German is also 4 words. With the words Landwirtschaftliche and Lebensmittelindustrie, I doubt it. Bataaf van Oranje (talk) 14:02, 4 October 2015 (UTC)

Korean transliteration[edit]

Since when does Korean use this transliteration system? I'm pretty sure that what is represented by the schwa is normally written 'eo', and the ŭ is written 'eu'; what about the final double 's'? This doesn't look like a correct transliteration system.DasПиg talk

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I want to add my agreement to those posts here that say this article is incomprehensibile to non-linguists. This is unhelpful I know but I am unable to assist other than to make some observations. First of these then is to ask if it is the linguistic terms themselves that are arcane and abstruse or only that the article so far has faied to communicate its concepts? A way which must spring to many people's minds to make the article more comprehensible is to provide clear examples of languages that have characteristic "A" justaposed with those that do NOT have characteristic "A"; rather than to discuss the various classifications in an intertwined and semi-conversational manner. From what I can take away from the article, both English and Hungarian are agglutinative however if this is true, then as they are clearly such different languages, the classification seems of little use and the lede should focus for instance on what the practical utility or helpfulness of the term is, rather than on a defence of its taxonomic legitimacy. Do linguists agree on the terminology and its application or are different terms used by different "schools"? If so this could be another way to structure the article. LookingGlass (talk) 10:10, 9 August 2017 (UTC)