One of the most famous and frequently used classifications of languages is the one proposed by Wilhelm von Humboldtwho divided languages into three main groups based on structural grounds: isolating(called analytic as well), agglutinative and fusional (inflecting).Agglutinating languagesAgglutinating languages are the types of synthetic languages (usuallythe ones with a high morpheme per word ratio) that uses agglutination; formingcomplex words by simply stringing together morphemes. There is typically a one-to-one correspondence between a morpheme andits meaning, and a morpheme has an invariant shape which makes it easy toidentify.
Words may contain different morphemes and added affixes to the stemswhich also add to the meaning. To conclude, agglutinating language is alanguage that consist of the words that are basically glued together, meaningthat we can add something to the root of the word and change its meaning.Isolating languagesIsolating languages are languages withfairy low morpheme per word ratio and contain no inflexion (modificationsof words like polish example: o?ówek). In the isolating languages the syntacticrelations are expressed by the position of the words in the sentence. Inconclusion, words are usually quite short and easy to pronounce and the meaningis determined by their place in the sentence.
Fusional (inflecting) languagesFusional languages or inflected languages are a type of syntheticlanguages, distinguished from agglutinative languages by their tendency to usea single inflectional morpheme to denote multiple grammatical, syntactic, or semanticfeatures. In fusional languagesthere is no clear boundary between morphemes, and thus semantically distinct features are usually merged in a singlebound form or in closely united bound forms. In simpler words; a morpheme thatis slightly changed do not change the meaning of the word, but for examplegender or a person. A good example here is Spanish language where “comer” is afoundation version of the word meaning (to eat), but “comi”, where we onlychanged one letter, means “I ate”.
In this example, we already have a personand a tense changed, however the meaning of the word stays exactly the same.Why is English regarded as afairly mixed type of language in respect of the three types of languages:isolating, agglutinative and inflecting.English is regarded as fairly mixed type of language in respect of thethree types of isolating, agglutinative and inflecting language because itsimply contains characteristics of all three.
In English language we can find isolating examples such as most ofadverbs, prepositions or conjunctions (since, to, from, when, at). Most of themcontain only one morpheme which matches the rules. Their grammatical status is completely determinedby their relations with the rest of the sentences in which they appear.
It is nearly impossible for those to appear by their own and have asignificant meaning. We can alsonotice agglutination in the English language which proves that English is alsoan agglutinative language. We add to the word in order to add to its meaning aswell. A great example might be adjectives. We usually add to the word andchange its role in a sentence (ugly – ugliness, dark – darkness).
In an agglutinating language, a word mayconsist of several morphemes but the boundaries between them are clear-cut.Finally,coming to the last of three types of languages that can be found in English – “fusionallanguages” or “inflected languages” which are a distinguished from “agglutinative”languages by their tendency to use asingle inflectional morpheme to stand for multiple grammatical, syntactic, orsemantic features. There is no clear distinction between a root of the wordand the word created itself, however it is not impossible to associate theoriginal word with the changed one.
A great example of fusion in English mightbe tenses, like “rise, rose, risen”, where the basic meaning stays the same,nevertheless the word presents three different tenses which plays a big role inlanguage usage and sentence creation.To sum upbriefly. There are three main groupsof languages based on structural grounds: isolating (called analytic as well), agglutinative and fusional(inflecting). Each type can be found inEnglish language, however none of those can be distinguished as a main type.There are different characteristics of each type. In fusional languages we are unable to distinguish clear boundaries between morphemes,in the isolating languages thesyntactic relations are expressed by the position of the words in the sentenceand the words are usually short consisting of low number of morphemes, and in agglutinatinglanguages morpheme has an regular shape which makes it easy to identify.