Questions tagged [inflection]

The patterns of changing endings in inflecting languages which cover multiple properties of a word such as tense, mood, person, number, case, etc. This general term covers conjugation of verbs and declension of nouns and adjectives.

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Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to "person"?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
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How do linguists distinguish between case endings and postpositions, especially in languages which have both and/or have no traditional grammar?

In my attempt to learn Georgian, an agglutinative language of the South Caucasus, I have learned that it has both case endings and postpositions. I also have some familiarity with Korean and Japanese ...
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What is the origin of non-natural grammatical genders in Indo-European languages?

Non-natural grammatical genders in Indo-European languages: What is their origin (assuming that there is a single origin, if there are many origins)? Or what are the origins? How and for what ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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Do sign languages inflect?

I saw the statement a few times that sign languages inflect in the same way that spoken languages do, but all examples I came across refer to phenomena that I would classify as word formation rather ...
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Are there any languages which inflect the noun for morphosyntactic categories normally reserved for verbs (e.g. tense, aspect, etc.)?

In English (for example), we say "I go/went/was going/etc.", inflecting the verb for tense and aspect while leaving the subject of the sentence unchanged. But are there any languages that would ...
ubadub's user avatar
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French conjugation, spoken vs written

French verbs are conjugated depending on the subject's person and number (ex. je parle, tu parles, il parle, etc.) However in spoken language most of these sound the same anyway because the end part ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
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11 votes
9 answers
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Why are there inflections?

I'm from a Chinese background. I wonder why there are inflections in many languages, as compared with no inflections in Chinese. I personally suppose that a language should originate simple and easy ...
David's user avatar
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Do any languages have verbal inflection with a plural object?

The verb in a language like English can inflect for person, for example: I see the cat > he sees the cat and the verb can inflect for tense: I see the cat > I saw the cat But do any languages ...
Danger Fourpence's user avatar
10 votes
4 answers
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Languages preserving loanword inflections

Erudite English has an interesting practice where the plural form of loanwords may follow the inflectional grammar of the source language. Thus "campi" as well as "campuses", "minima" as well as "...
melissa_boiko's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
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Grammaticalization of third person singular -s in English

Is there any evidence that the third person singular -s can be traced back to a lexical item before it became an inflection? I am trying to see if the theory of grammaticalization applies to its ...
marta's user avatar
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8 answers
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Is there any language where verb inflection takes place word-initially?

In the languages I know, verbal tense, number, gender, etc. is applied after the word stem. Is there any language where verb conjugation morphologically affects the beginning of a word and not the end ...
Pablo's user avatar
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5 answers
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difference between Isolating (analytics) vs inflected (fusional) vs agglutinative languages

It's not easy to grasp these concepts. I spent a lot of time perusing wikipedia articles but still can't really understand what makes a language: inflexed, isolating or agglutinative, Background ...
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Are there any recent articles on the current state of Case theory?

Specifically I'm interested in the split between Structural Case and Morphological case. Structural Case has been part of Chomskyan syntactic theory since at least Government & Binding (GB). ...
Dan Milway's user avatar
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1 answer
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Are there languages in which adverbs inflect?

Are there any languages in which adverbs (in the sense of verb modifiers) inflect to match the verb they modify?
aimalanos's user avatar
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Are the inflectional endings in English known to have evolved from separate words or do they go too far back into PIE to know?

English isn't a highly inflected language, but it did evolve from one and still has at least: -s, -es; -ed, -ing; -er, -est; for nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Do we know if these all evolved from ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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What really makes adverbs different from adjectives?

I just tried to answer a question that amounted to knowing whether adverbs can be inflected. Then, doing a bit of search for examples, I came up with the impression that, in many cases, I could not ...
babou's user avatar
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Were/are there any languages that decline(d) articles but not nouns?

This question is actually spawned from a rather embarrassing personal blunder years ago, that was that when I had first begun to learning an heavily inflected language, I had made the mistake of ...
Matthew T. Scarbrough's user avatar
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3 answers
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Examples of Umlaut in a living language

For a teaching material I needed a good example of vocalic mutation of the root, aka Umlaut, and I got stuck at the fact that, while the Umlaut is often postulated for some reconstructed languages, ...
Artemij Keidan's user avatar
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2 answers
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Are fusional languages easier to learn than isolating languages?

As some of you may know, auxlangers tend towards isolating languages. At the very least, the direct object is determined by word order rather than with a case ending (mostly because most West ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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How did the complexities of Arabic cardinals arise?

Generally the grammar related to the numbers in Arabic is considered to be the most complicated thing about the language. In fact, it is considered so complicated that many teachers argue that not ...
gen-ℤ ready to perish's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
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Term for borrowing an inflected form as an uninflected form

Sometimes when a word is borrowed from one language to another, what is an inflected form in the source language becomes an uninflected form in the target language. Examples of this are the Italian ...
Psychonaut's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
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Do modal auxiliaries in English never change their forms?

Anderson's Essentials of Linguistics says that in English: The modal auxiliaries never change their form: they occupy the T- head position in their own right. The non-modal auxiliaries, like main ...
Tim's user avatar
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Are there languages that inflect adverbs for gender

Triggered by this answer, I am curious: Are there languages that inflect adverbs for gender or noun class? I have consulted the following two questions but the given inflections of adverbs in their ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
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4 answers
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Are there languages with verb tenses, but no conjugation?

More specifically, what I'm looking for is this: verbs have no conjugation or inflection; the only form is the infinitive. The language does have verb tenses, (past, present, future, conditional, etc),...
adashrod's user avatar
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What are some examples of well-known agglutinatve languages moving toward inflecting morphology?

We've had questions about inflected languages moving towards analytic morphology and about isolating languages moving to agglutinating morphology but we haven't yet investigated the third case. In ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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6 votes
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Are inflectional morphemes considered affixes in English?

From what I remember to have learned in SPANISH, which is my mother tongue, affixes just refer to derivational morphemes such as suffixes and prefixes which can change the meaning of words when added ...
Irene Domingo's user avatar
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3 answers
479 views

Is there some intrinsic relationship between the nominative plural and genitive singular?

In Latin the similarity between the nominative plural and genitive singular is most striking: First: porta (Nom/Sing) and portae (Nom/Pl), portae (Gen/Sing) and portarum (Gen/Pl) Second: servus (Nom/...
Ryan David Ward's user avatar
6 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is the {-ing} of the gerund a verbal inflectional suffix?

Is the {-ing} of a gerund a verbal inflectional suffix or a nominal derivational one? For instance, in the sentence Swimming is a great hobby. , swimming is a gerund and it has the syntactical role of ...
V.Lydia's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
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L1 acquisition of morphology in heavily inflected languages

It is very common to hear two- and three-year-olds in English saying "I falled down," "She gived me it," etc. And the frequency of a verb form is inversely related to the age at which one is likely to ...
Daniel Briggs's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
253 views

Is it pure coincidence that English makes plurals with -s, like in French and Spanish?

It is known that the plural -s suffix in English has Germanic origins, and is not a feature imported from French. However, to what extent does the use of -s for plurals in English have to do with ...
Aqualone's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
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Noun inflection in which IE language is close to PIE noun inflection?

Which modern IE language is most conservative in noun inflection and in this aspect is most similar language to PIE?
Houman's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
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How are foreign terms incorporated into the Arabic system of vowel alternation?

I don't know much at all about the specifics of Arabic grammar, so this question might not make sense, but as I understand it, most Arabic words consist of a three-consonant root with vowels inserted ...
Kaninchen's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
367 views

Does plural count as a grammatical gender?

Depending on the language, gender inflection can arise from natural gender, or even perhaps as a way of simplifying an extremely complex inflection system, but regardless, grammatical gender is a just ...
Matthew T. Scarbrough's user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
817 views

What is the maximum number of forms a (modern) Japanese verb can take?

Recently I've begun to wonder how many possible forms can be made from a single Japanese verb. I asked a similar question first on the Japanese Language & Usage site, where I received some ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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5 votes
6 answers
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Difference between Genitive Personal Pronoun and Possessive Pronoun

I'm currently studying Icelandic. Right away at one of the first steps I found a bit of difficulty and I wonder if any of you might be able to help me as the question might be answered based on any ...
Gustavo Campedelli's user avatar
5 votes
0 answers
62 views

Combinatory Categorial Grammar for inflected languages?

Can combinatory categorial grammars be used for inflected languages like Slavic and Baltic languages? I am aware only of this thesis https://pwmarcz.pl/pm-thesis-final.pdf As far as I have ...
TomR's user avatar
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4 votes
5 answers
174 views

Does there exist a pair of words with the same parts of speech, same base form, but different inflections?

I will attempt to illustrate my question via example. Let's say we have two verbs which are homonyms of eachother: "fleeber" and "fleeber". The first means "to create a soft ...
Bunny's user avatar
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6 answers
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Do Modern Grammar Theories fall short in explaining Free Word Order?

Here's my childish challenge to generative grammar: Could anyone give me an analysis of Russian sentence Мама мыла раму. (Mom washed the (window) frame.) from the point of view of modern grammar ...
Roger V.'s user avatar
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3 answers
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Does word order really not matter in Latin?

New to Latin, I can't help but wonder about the following: Every text I found online claims that since words are inflected (enough) to indicate the roles they play in a sentence, word order has no ...
icehenge's user avatar
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2 answers
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How is the the adjective in a definite noun phrase different from a nondefinite one in Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages?

In the wikipedia article about definiteness I came upon this: In the Germanic languages and Balto-Slavic languages, for example (as still in modern German and Lithuanian), there are two paradigms ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
514 views

Which language(s) has cases which cannot be mistaken for other cases?

I would like to learn a language which has cases which cannot be mistaken for other cases, in pronunciation and writing. Does such a language exist? For an example of what I want to avoid: The case ...
evonya's user avatar
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2 answers
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Derivational vs. Inflectional Morphemes

Is the derivational/inflectional morpheme distinction particularly significant to linguists? If so, is it more significant for languages other than English, which I think is less "inflected" than ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
320 views

Is there a dominant sequence in which a language throughout its evolution changes its type?

To clarify, by type I refer to terms like isolating, agglutinative,flectional...I think the terms which Humboldt introduced for a rough categorization. Now, I heard of languages, that changed their ...
Abdul Al Hazred's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
979 views

Languages w/out morphology

Is there a natural language w/ no morphology (i.e. one that has neither inflectional nor derivational morphology -- in other words, no affixation whatsoever)? I've heard claims to the effect, but the (...
jaam's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Order of derivational and inflectional affixes

I saw the following formula on Wikipedia: morpheme + derivational morphemes + desinence (inflectional morphemes) followed immediately by the comment not not necessarily in this order. But all the ...
cyco130's user avatar
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Understanding "inflection" and "grammatical category"

The Wikipedia article Morphology says: A further difference is that in word formation, the resultant word may differ from its source word's grammatical category whereas in the process of inflection ...
iBug's user avatar
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1 answer
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Which language has the most types of irrealis moods?

A mood in grammar is a verb form that depends on how its containing clause relates to the speaker’s or writer’s wish, intent, or assertion about reality. Mood is distinctive from tense (how a verb's ...
user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
163 views

Are different inflectional forms of a word different words or the same word?

At some point, I gained the notion that inflections of a word didn't constitute different words, but rather different forms of the same word. This Wikipedia article however, says the process of ...
A. Kvåle's user avatar
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1 answer
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How did Latin drop noun declension?

Latin has/had noun cases, while modern Romance languages don't. I wonder if the transition can be observed in written forms. Are there examples from different historic moments? A side question: ...
culebrón's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Are there any languages besides Japanese which are both inflecting/agglutinating and do not indicate word boundaries in writing?

Many languages have inflectional or agglutinating morphology - they have words with multiple or many forms due to aspect, degree or comparison, gender, mood, number, tense, etc. A number of languages ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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