I often see this kind of analysis / comparison in linguistic textbooks where they basically provide literal translation of a sentence with grammar notes (like verb tense, noun case etc.). For example:

Je    vais     en  ville.  
I  go:PRS:1SG  to  town.

     Idu         v   gorod.
go:IPFV:PRS:1SG  to town:ACC

I think it's a great way of demonstrating how a foreign language works so I'd like to find more information about it.

So I was wondering if there is a technical term for this type of analysis / comparison or if there are rules or guidelines for how this procedure should be done properly.


The kind of structure you ask about is known as an interlinear gloss. It consist minimally of three lines: the first line being the language being analysed, with segmentable morphemes separated out by hyphens; the second line is in the analysis language and has a gloss (usually a grammatical category label) for each morpheme in the first line and is spaced out so that each glow lines up vertically with the appropriate morpheme in the first line; finally, the third line is a free translation.

This sounds complicated so here is an example to clarify:

    1. Latin
    insul  -arum
    island -GEN.PL
    'of the islands'

A useful set of conventions for constructing interlinear glosses are Christian Lehmann's rules for interlinear morphemic glosses.

  • 1
    Superb answer! Another resource you might find useful @stillenat is the Max Planck institute's reasonably concise summary of the Leipzig glossing rules, which i think are probably the most widespread glossing convention in linguistics: eva.mpg.de/lingua/resources/glossing-rules.php
    – P Elliott
    Dec 16 '13 at 15:00

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