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The typological status of the English language. The criterion of word-structure

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It was Wilhelm von Humboldt who conceived the idea of linguistic typology. Inflecting languages:

1) Words in such languages consist of stems and inflexions. Stems in their turn can consist of roots

and word-building affixes 2)words are often polysyllabic 3)Inflexions are polysemantic 3)Word differ from one another semantically and syntactically 4) Each part of speech has its own word-building affixes 4)words belong to parts of speech as lexico-morphological classes. 6)Word order is 'free'. 7)There are complex sentences with different kinds of subordinate clauses.8)words should agree their forms to make up a sentence Agglutinating Languages 1)Each affix is associated with one grammatical meaning. 2)Any affix can be added to any root 3) Both grammatical and lexical meanings are marked with affixes. 4)Word-building and word-changing affixes are not clearly distinguished. 5) There is a great number of non-finite forms Isolating Languages: 1) Root-words are prevailing. 2)There are very few affixes or no affixes at all3)words are usually monosyllabic 4) Words are either polysemantiIc or have broad meanings 5) There are a lot of form words. 6)Word formation is carried out by various lexemes 7)Word order is fixed 8) There are a lot of subordinate clauses 9)Words do not belong to parts of speech, they function as different parts of speech.

The diachronic typological description of English should be distinguished from its synchronic description. Old English, was of the inflecting type (a developed system of noun declension and verbal subjugation, obligatory concord between words). During the Middle English period due to the reduction of the unstressed inflections most of the morphological synthetic forms were lost. The left grammatical paradigms are: 1)the plural form of the nouns, e.g., cat – cats, 2)the genitive case of the noun, e.g., cat –cat’s, 3)the 3d person singular form of the verb in the present tense, e.g., work – works, 4)the past tense forms of the verbs, e.g., work – worked. These suffixes have lost their inflectional properties and have become essentially agglutinative. The reduction of the morphological formal features has lead to an almost complete loss of agreement (or concord) and government (concord is still presented in noun+demonstr. pronoun e.g.: this book – these books, 3rd person singular of the verb in the present, e.g.: they say – he says; government can be traced in the objective pronouns, e.g.: to see him). This resulted in a greater importance of word order cf.: silk blouse – blouse silk. To adjust to the fixed word order the Modern English syntax has developed an analytical type of the predicate. Did you take my pen? I did not take your pen

The word has become predominantly monosyllabic like in agglutinating languages, cf.: work – worker, working, works. Monosyllabic words’ part of speech status is determined positionally, like in the isolating languages. Predominantly monosyllable vocabulary has led to a secondary (and sometimes tertiary) stress, e.g.: competition, secretary; this stress-pattern imitates rhythmically the syntagmatic alternation of stressed notional and unstressed functional monosyllabic words.

To sum it up, the present typological status of the English language is determined by drastic reconstruction of originally inflectional-synthetic system into an analytical type system. According to professor Arakin, English is a slightly inflecting language with a predominance of agglutinative features and adjunction, and with no fusion between the morphemes. Synchronically, English is characterized, as basically an isolating type language with some agglutinative features.


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