In non-agglutinative languages we have certain word classes that would be considered productive, and we have word classes that wouldn't. Morphological inflection, on the other hand, is from my knowledge (please correct me otherwise) not ever considered productive. Is this the case in agglutinative languages as well, i.e. is the production only occurring on a root-level? Productive morphology would otherwise sound like a fascinating topic!

  • I think you should expand upon your premise of "productive" - which while it seems somewhat obvious, probably has broader consideration for you and your question Jan 14, 2014 at 14:13
  • My idea of productivity is simply a high rate of new entities entering the common usage of said language. Are there other aspects of productivity I'm not aware of?
    – user1750
    Jan 14, 2014 at 14:25
  • How in the world would you measure that? There is absolutely no reliable way for such a quantity to be measured, let alone relativized to a norm. Don't forget, you're dealing with spoken languages, over generations. That's the strangest definition of "productive" I've ever seen.
    – jlawler
    Jan 14, 2014 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


I don't think your definition matches the traditional one, which is more about the degree to which a morpheme can freely and grammatically combine with various words (within a given word-class) -- for example, the -er morpheme (as in singer, talker, digger, ...) is extremely productive with Vs, while the -man morpheme (as in workman, postman, journeyman, ...) is also productive, with Ns, but much less so, and the -smith morpheme (as in blacksmith, swordsmith and wordsmith) is rather unproductive, with Ns.

note also that inflectional morphology can be productive or not -- English -ed and -ing are rather productive, but -en is actually rather not productive (run a little 'wug' test on a native speaker).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.