When we think about the morphology and syntax, the debate arises. Even if they are protagonist parts of linguistic debates, and even if they are usually address separately, the importance of each concept and the confusion between them will vary depending on the main language of study. When it comes to Analytic languages, such as English, Morphology does not play a major role, so the lexicon is highly dependent on syntactic features. However, non-Analytic languages, such as Russian, rely mostly on the morphology of the word. Therefore, in these languages the distinction between morphology and syntax is very clear. However, there is not a strong consensus of where they differ and where they come together. Therefore, this arise the question, are words more independent from syntax in non-analytical languages? Does this affect language processing?

  • 1
    what do u mean by "independent from syntax"?
    – Anixx
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 20:57
  • 2
    Generally, there is a lot of overlap between syntax and morphology; there are periphrastic constructions and shortened phrases. So analytic languages rely more on syntactic resources and synthetic ones rely more on morphological ones, but both can convert as needed. That's what the Grammaticalization Cycle is all about.
    – jlawler
    Commented Apr 30, 2015 at 22:00
  • Actually you can say morphology is just syntax on a lower level.
    – Eleshar
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 21:37
  • As Annix recommends, you really need to explain the concept of "independent from syntax," how the degree of this quality can vary. Please provide examples. Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 3:42

1 Answer 1


Though there is no clear measure for linguistic independence, I'd be tempted to say no to your question: "are words more independent from syntax in non-analytical languages?". Analytical languages rely heavily on word order to convey a particular meaning whereas say agglutinating languages are a lot more generous so word or constituent orders. But there are still subtle differences in focus:

For reference:

Mariska - nominal subject
kitette / tette ki - past tense verb with a locative adverbial particle
a - definite article
macskat - nominal object

|  Hungarian                    |   English
|  Mariska kitette a macskat.   |   Mary put out the cat.
|  Mariska a macskat tette ki.  |   It was the cat Mary put out.
|  A macskat Mariska tette ki.  |   It was Mary who put out the cat.
|  Mariska a macskat kitette.   |   Mary PUT OUT the cat 
|                               |   (as opposed to some other action she could have done to the cat)

So clearly the syntax plays a major role in differentiating in terms meaning even though the same morphological constituents are at play.

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