Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What is Agglutination in Linguistics? - Language Structures in Estonian vs. Latvian Maja - House - Words for Colors - Property - Inheritance

Reposted from LexiLine Journal 284:

Bob Sand inquires as follows:

>Subj: Baltic languages agglutinative
>Date: 6/9/2004 3:14:15 PM Eastern Daylight Time
>From: bob sand <bad_sand2000@yahoo.com>
>To: LexiLine-owner@yahoogroups.com
>Sent from the Internet (Details)

>Are Baltic languages agglutinative? I was just thinking since they
are similar to Sumerian >and Akkadian and them being agglutinative,
then the Baltic languages are agglutinative.
>Can you answer that question?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines agglutination in linguistics
see http://www.bartleby.com/61/2/A0140200.html as:
"The formation of words from morphemes that retain their original forms and meanings with little change during the combination process."
An example in English would be the forming of the word likeness from "like", by pasting "like" and "-ness" together. A similar example in English would be the glued on "-ance" in "inherit+ance" or "import+ance" or "maintain+ance", or the many -tion or -sion endings following words such as deci(de)+sion, exclamation, (exclaim+tion), and yes, even agglutination or inflection.

That same dictionary defines inflection in linguistcs see (http://www.bartleby.com/61/19/I0131900.html) as
"An alteration of the form of a word by the addition of an affix, as
in English dogs from dog, or by changing the form of a base, as in
English spoke from speak, that indicates grammatical features such
as number, person, mood, or tense.
The drawing of a strict dividing line between so-called agglutinative and inflected languages is a comfortable fiction of modern linguistics which is generally subject to the critique that foolish consistencies are the hobgoblin of little minds.

See http://www.fact-index.com/i/in/inflected_language.html

Latvian, just as English, has both agglutinative and inflected elements, which is not surprising, given its near neighborhood to Estonia. As is written at
"Estonian is not, as is sometimes thought, in any way related to its nearest geographic neighbors, Latvian and Lithuanian, which are Baltic languages, but is related to Finnish, spoken on the other side of the Gulf of Finland, and Hungarian. It is not true, however, that the northern dialects of Estonian are sufficiently similar to Finnish for the two to be mutually intelligible...

Typologically, Estonian represents a transitional form from an agglutinating language to an inflected language.
Let us compare the word māja, which is "house" both in Latvian and Estonian (maja).

A yellow house in Estonian is kollane maja
A yellow house in Latvian is dzeltene maja viz. dzeltena maja
[The Nostratic root of koll- and dzel- will be the same]
The illative (locative case meaning "into") agglutinative in Estonian
in the case of the yellow house is formed by saying
kollasesse majasse
whereas the inflected locative in Latvian is formed by lengthening the final vowel
dzeltenā mājā
but also possible in Latvian is an agglutinative-like
dzeltenāsi mājās(i)
, which then of course looks like the Estonian.

Note that the colors (COL-ors) in Latvian [which are the words]
for blue, green, yellow and gold
are hardly differentiated,
showing a very old language status,
which of course is cognate to Estonian KOLL-,
and surely cognate with the English world COL-or.

Essentially, agglutinative means that isolated words are glued together for grammar whereas inflected means that words (especially word endings) are changed in form to reflect grammar.

A good example here is the Latvian word manta "property, thing owned" (also meaning "toy").

According to current erroneous mainstream linguistic analysis, Latvian manta is seen to consist of a root stem mant- meaning property plus the nominative inflected ending -a.

But of course, this view of [modern] mainstream linguistics is totally wrong.

As Franz Bopp, the founder of comparative linguistics, suggested more than 150 years ago - to the still deaf and ignorant ears and minds of modern linguists - inflection at the ends of words in Indo-European derives from the [agglutinative] affixation of isolated pronouns or other elements to other words.

In Latvian man- means "mine, to me, for me" and ta is a pronoun meaning "that". Hence the Latvian word manta "property" is actually made up of the components of man- and -ta as MAN.TA "mine that".

The same is true for the plural mantas, which is MAN.TAS [man- plus tās] "mine those".

We also see the English-based -sion or -tion ending (in Latvian as shini, shani, shana - very much like Akkadian and Hebrew) in the Latvian word mantošana (pronounced mantoshana), i.e. MAN.DUO.SHANA, meaning "inheritance", i.e. "me - give - that" viz. "mine - give - that".

Logically, Latvian mantota "inherited" is MAN.DO.TA "mine - given- that" viz. "me - give - that". There is - strictly speaking - no root "mant-" in Latvian meaning property, contrary to the opinions of modern linguists.

What modern linguists see as Latvian inflection is the product of previous agglutination.

Much more on ancient languages will be forthcoming on LexiLine. - Andis

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