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Agglutinative languages

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 Message 17 of 27
26 March 2015 at 8:24pm | IP Logged 
I don't speak any agglutinative language, but I think that having studied a handful of Uralic languages for a while, and then a couple of Turkic ones and Korean as of last year, could qualify me to say a few things.

Familiarity or being accustomed to agglutination as used in one language isn't that helpful in coming to grips with agglutination of other languages. What is marked via agglutination and what isn't varies from one language to the next even when all of the languages belong to the same family and are thought of as agglutinative. In addition, even when languages mark the same set of concepts with agglutination, you can then still see that the sequence of the infixes differs, and/or the stems or infixes themselves change as you do agglutination depending on the language.

If you'd like, I could put down a few examples from a handful of Uralic languages, Azeri, Turkish, and Korean.
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 Message 18 of 27
26 March 2015 at 8:43pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:

If you'd like, I could put down a few examples from a handful of Uralic languages,
Azeri, Turkish, and Korean.

Please do, Chung. No need to ask.
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 Message 19 of 27
27 March 2015 at 12:06pm | IP Logged 
Expugnator wrote:
Georgian has polypersonal verbs, but it helped to think of them as the direct/indirect object attachments in Spanish and Portuguese (the latter even has mesoclisis):

დამირეკე! Llámame!

Excellent observation, which when applied in practice serves to remove much of the scariness of the concept of agglutination.

I would just add that the extensive use of invariable pre-, in- and suffixes in for instance Latin and Russian also is a kind of agglutination, but the inescapable focus on the difficult variable and multipurpose endings has been given priority when it came to linguistic namedropping.

Edited by Iversen on 27 March 2015 at 12:09pm

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 Message 20 of 27
02 April 2015 at 8:39am | IP Logged 
I wanted to strengthen Esperanto some more and learn at least three Austronesian
and Turkish before learning Japanese or Korean in the many upcoming years. There is an
opportunity for me to stay in South Korea for two months and two weeks next year, so I have
started studying the language.

I am familiar with the concept of agglutination, so I am not scared off by it. The help is
minor, but it is still an aid in the learning process nonetheless. The other early
I wanted to try was the free word order of Esperanto and apply SOV more often. It is
I will be doing that, as I want to concentrate only with the Korean language.


I am looking forward to your examples. It is nice to see the differences and similarities
with different languages.

Edited by alang on 03 April 2015 at 8:37am

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 Message 21 of 27
22 April 2015 at 6:42am | IP Logged 
This is a follow up to this post. Being familiar with agglutination as used in one language doesn't make it that much easier to pick up agglutination in another language.

1) A concept that's expressed by agglutination in one language might not be in a related language. Even in instances when a common set of concepts is expressed by agglutination in several languages, the order of the suffixation may differ from one language to the next regardless of the larger genetic grouping.

In our house...

Estonian Meie majas...
Finnish (Meidän) talossamme... / Meidän talossa...
Northern Saami Min viesus...
Meadow Mari (Мемнан) пöртыштына...
Hungarian A (mi) házunkban...

Azeri (Bizim) evimiz...
Turkish (Bizim) evimizde... / (Bizim) evimizin içinde...
Turkmen (Biziň) jaýmyzda...

Korean 우리 에(서)... [oo-ree jee-beh(saw)]

Again, even though all languages can mark the same concepts here, the sequence of the relevant suffixes varies when agglutination occurs. Note also that all of the languages show use of something similar to our possessive adjective "our". In Azeri, Finnish, Hungarian, Meadow Mari, Turkish and Turkmen this is optional (as suggested by the parentheses in blue) whereas in the other languages it's obligatory for lack of a dedicated possessive suffix.*

Note also in Turkish that one can use a postposition to translate "in(side)" in which case the inflectional suffix on the noun changes from locative to genitive. A literal breakdown of the Turkish phrases is:

(Bizim) evimizde...
(we-[genitive suffix]) house-[possessive suffix of 1st person plural]-[locative suffix]
"Our house-our-in..." ~ "In our house..."

(Bizim) evimizin içinde...
(we-[genitive suffix]) house-[possessive suffix of 1st person plural]-[genitive suffix] in(side)
"Our house-our-of in(side)" ~ "In(side) our house..."

In Korean, the suffix (normally called a "marker" in Korean pedagogy) 에 implies location connected to verbs or verbal adverbs translateable as "is/are/there are/is not/there is not", "go" and "come ". 에서 implies location connected to all other verbs or verbal adverbs.

* Northern Saami has possessive suffixes, however for whatever reason my main learning resource for the language, Davvin never demonstrates them.

2) Along a similar idea as seen in the first set of examples is that what one language leaves unmarked or signals by context is conveyed by agglutination in another.

"Chung is American."

Estonian Chung on ameeriklane.
Finnish Chung on amerikkalainen.
Northern Saami Chung lea amerihkálaš.
Meadow Mari Chung американец.
Hungarian Chung amerikai.

Azeri Çang amerikalıdir.
Turkish Çang Amerikalı(dir).
Turkmen Çaň amerikan.

Korean 창 씨 미국 사람이에요. [Chung shee-ga mee-guk sah-rahm-ee-yeh-yo]

In this second set of examples what many of us likely think of already as “natural” with the subject in nominative, namely without a suffix (“Chung”, “Çang” etc.), is expressed in Korean as a marker/suffix 가 which is attached to the subject of the sentence.

3) Based on my experience, I believe that agglutination should be interpreted by a learner that many grammatical relations and information are usually revealed by attaching morphemes to what we think of as a "noun", "adjective" or "verb". However awareness of this tendency doesn't necessarily give clues on changes engendered to the root's/stem's shape when adding these morphemes when they occur.

In Estonian, Finnish and Northern Saami (among a few others in the Uralic family), adding suffixes can lead to changes in the stem. These changes are conditional on the stem's nature and must be learned either by figuring out the pattern or burdensome memorizing. I have touched on some of these changes in my log entries dealing with consonant gradation as well vowel alternations in Northern Saami.

“to read” ~ “I read”, “he/she reads
Estonian lugema ~ loen, loeb
Finnish lukea ~ luen, lukee
Northern Saami lohkat ~ logan, lohká

The agglutination is noticeable in the coloured endings which mark the subject, but note the change in the verbs' stems as we go from the infinitive to the conjugated examples.

“fish” ~ “fishes” (nominative plural), “on (the) fishes
Estonian kala ~ kalad, kaladel / kalul (in Estonian one often declines a noun in plural by adding endings to a stem that's identical to the genitive plural (i.e. kalade) or partitive plural (i.e. kalu). As far as I am aware, the unpredictability in forming this stem means that learners memorize these forms similar to how they memorize the gender of French or German nouns as they learn them.)
Finnish kala ~ kalat, kaloilla (the final -a becomes -o under influence of the plural marker -i- / -j-)
Northern Saami guolli ~ guolit, guliin

As in the preceding set of examples with “to read ~ I read, he/she reads”, the agglutination covers only part of the process since the stem undergoes changes under certain circumstances as the suffixes are applied.

In Meadow Mari, adding a suffix directly to a stem that ends in unstressed a e, o or ö usually sets off a reduction of these unstressed vowels (i.e. they’re then spelled as ы which is pronounced as a schwa)...

“oak tree” ~ “In (the) oak tree”
тумо ~ тумышто

...but in other instances might lead to the vowel disappearing altogether

“oak tree” ~ “my oak tree”, “in my oak tree”
тумо ~ тумем, тумыштем

In Hungarian, adding a declensional suffix often lengthens the stem's final vowel when it is -a or -e.

“hat ~ hats (nominative plural), in (the) hats
sapka ~ sapkák, (a) sapkákban

Occasionally the vowel in a stem's final syllable disappears when a declensional suffix is attached.

“strawberry” ~ “strawberries” (nominative plural), “in (the) strawberry” (inessive singular)
eper ~ eprek, (az) eperben. (i.e. stem is either eper- or epr-)

Turkic languages also show similar variation with the addition of suffixes setting off changes to the stem's final consonant given certain circumstances...

“book” ~ “my book”

Azeri kitab ~ kitabım
Kyrgyz китеп ~ китебим (-п > )
Turkish kitap ~ kitabım (-p > -b)
Turkmen kitap ~ kitabym (-p > -b)
Tuvan ном ~ номум

“name” ~ “my name”
Azeri ad ~ adım
Kyrgyz ат ~ атым
Turkish ad ~ adım
Turkmen at ~ adym (-t > -d)
Tuvan ат ~ адым ( > )

... or the initial consonant of some suffixes undergoing assimilation when attached to stems ending in certain consonants.

“head” ~ “heads” (nominative plural)
Azeri baş ~ başlar (-lar / -lər)
Kyrgyz баш ~ баштар (лар / лер ~ лор / лөр ~ дар / дер ~ дoр / дөр ~ тар / тер ~ тoр / төр)
Turkish baş ~ başlar (-lar / -ler)
Turkmen baş ~ başlar (-lar / -ler)
Tuvan баш ~ баштар (лар / лер ~ дар / дер ~ нар / нер ~ тар / тер)

“tongue ~ tongues” (nominative plural)

Azeri dil ~ dillər (-lar / -lər)
Kyrgyz тил ~ тилдер (лар / лер ~ лор / лөр ~ дар / дер ~ дoр / дөр ~ тар / тер ~ тoр / төр)
Turkish dil ~ diller (-lar / -ler)
Turkmen dil ~ diller (-lar / -ler)
Tuvan дыл ~ дылдар (лар / лер ~ дар / дер ~ нар / нер ~ тар / тер)

One doesn't simply and mechanically add suffixes to stems as a crude or incomplete understanding of agglutination could have it. Excepting Uzbek, vowel harmony as a rule is considered in Turkic agglutination, and the Kyrgyz and Tuvan examples show how the basic plural suffix's initial l- (л-) can be d- (д-), t- (т-) or even n- (н-) in Tuvan's case. These variations depend on the nature of the stem's final consonant that immediately precedes that suffix.

Consonantal alternation in a stem can also turn up in conjugation given certain conditions.

“to go ~ I go ~ I do not go”
Azeri getmək ~ gedirəm ~ getmirəm (get- ~ ged-)
Turkish gitmek ~ giderim ~ gitmem (git- ~ gid-)
Turkmen gitmek ~ gidýärin ~ gidemok (git ~ gid-)

I would add examples from Korean, but I confess that my knowledge of the language isn't advanced enough yet to report if agglutination there also requires the learner to be as mindful of alternations as the preceding examples from Uralic and Turkic demonstrate.

Edited by Chung on 23 April 2015 at 12:46am

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 Message 22 of 27
22 April 2015 at 1:04pm | IP Logged 
Stem sound changes, both regular and irregular, are very common in Korean verbs and adjectives (in Korean grammar the latter are a subset of the former). My knowledge of Korean isn't very advanced either, so I can only demonstrate it in a very limited set of examples.

infinitive ~ informal polite non-past indicative
보다 (bo-da "to see, to look") ~ 봐요 (bwa-yo; from the stem 보 bo + ending 아요 a-yo; that ending is only used when the last vowel of the stem is o or a, except for 하다 and its derivatives [see below])
돕다 (dop-da "to help") ~ 도와요 (do-wa-yo; since it's a so-called "p-irregular" verb, the p gets replaced with an o and the ending is attached to that instead)
잡다 (jap-da "to catch") ~ 잡아요 (jab-a-yo; while the stem also ends with a p/b, this verb isn't irregular, so the ending is attached to it without changes)
하다 (ha-da "to do") ~ 해요 (hae-yo; the "ha-irregular" historically got the ending 여요 yeo-yo instead of 아요; eventually 하여요 ha-yeo-yo got shortened to its present form)
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 Message 23 of 27
22 April 2015 at 2:13pm | IP Logged 
Chung wrote:

In our house...

Finnish Meidän talossa...

Just fixing the colour and pointing out that this variant is colloquial. (I'm sure Chung knows, but it's not so obvious to others)
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 Message 24 of 27
22 April 2015 at 5:54pm | IP Logged 
Cпасибо vonPeterhof и Serpent!

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