Isolating languages: essence, features, examples

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Isolating languages: essence, features, examples
Isolating languages: essence, features, examples

Linguistics is a voluminous science, covering not just individual languages ​​or individual language families, but all languages ​​of the world, studying, classifying, comparing and finding patterns. The result of such studies are numerous multi-volume works and classifications according to various criteria.

For example, it is possible to classify languages ​​according to their relationship to each other. This approach is called "genetic" or "genealogical". However, at the turn of the 17th-19th centuries, another way of classifying languages ​​appeared. The new approach, created by the brothers August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel, was based on the common language type and structure.

August-Wilhelm Schlegel

Typological classification of languages

In linguistics, typology is a comparative study of the structural and functional properties of languages, regardless of the presence or absence of family ties between them. The main purpose of such a study of languages ​​is to establish the similarities and differences between them, which lie in their most common and most important properties. Initially, Friedrich Schlegel dividedlanguages ​​into only two types: inflectional and affixing. His brother, August Wilhelm, supplemented this classification, highlighting also an amorphous type of language. The typological classification of languages ​​acquired its modern form thanks to Wilhelm von Humboldt, who supplemented the typology with the term "incorporating language" and drew attention to the fact that "pure" languages, i.e., belonging only to one type and not containing elements of another type, do not it happens. Moreover, at different stages of development, languages ​​can change, acquiring features inherent in another type.

Wilhelm von Humboldt

In total, it is customary to distinguish four types of languages:

  • Inflectional, which are languages ​​with their inherent change of words with the help of various inflections, and also have ambiguous and non-standard affixes, non-independent word stems. This includes all Slavic languages, with the exception of Bulgarian, Latin, Semitic.
  • Agglutinative, in which immutable and unambiguous affixes play an important role, mechanically attached to the same immutable word stems or roots. These are Finno-Ugric, Altaic, Japanese.
  • . These include Paleo-Asiatic, Eskimo and Indian languages.
  • Insulating, which will be discussed in more detail below.
Symbol of the Institute of Indian Languages

Isolating type languages

Under such languages ​​in modern linguistics it is customary to understand languages ​​that do not have affixes. Their grammatical meanings (time, number, case, and others) are expressed either by adjoining one word to another, or by using auxiliary words. Word and root in such languages ​​are equivalent. At the same time, unlike agglutinating languages, isolating languages ​​do not form complex combinations with suffixes and prefixes.

Features of root languages

Each group of languages ​​has its own distinctive features that are unique to it. Isolating languages ​​are no exception. Such languages ​​have the following distinguishing features:

  • words are immutable;
  • word formation is poorly developed;
  • word order in sentences is grammatically significant;
  • functional and meaningful words are weakly opposed to each other.

Isolating or amorphous language - which is correct?

In fact, both of these names are equivalent. In addition to the terms "isolating language" and "amorphous language", "root-isolating", "root" and "formless" are also applied to the representatives of this group. Their essence reflects the use of exclusively immutable (having no other forms) root elements.

Examples of isolating languages

Chinese can rightly be called the brightest example in the modern world. However, he is not the only one in this group. Similar characteristics can boastalso the Tibetan language and some other representatives of the Himalayan languages, as well as the Indochinese languages ​​in general.

Moreover, the Indo-European proto-language, which gave rise to many modern languages, also passed through a similar stage of development, isolating. It is also possible to talk about isolating tendencies in modern English, expressed, for example, in a certain tendency towards the root character.

Chinese characters

The most famous amorphous language is Chinese

Interest in learning Chinese is growing every year, but not knowing in advance some of the features of this language, many beginners get scared and quit classes. Meanwhile, some diligence will help to successfully overcome the first difficulties. In order not to be shocked when you first encounter a new language for you, learn a few important points about it. For example, the following will prepare you a little mentally for learning isolation Chinese:

Greeting in Chinese. On the recording below you can see the icons indicating the tone
  • Word order is grammatically significant, and determines the meaning and role in the sentence of a particular word. All sentences are built according to strict "templates", and by changing the places of words, one can distort their meaning beyond recognition. At the same time, the number of "templates" is not so large.
  • In Chinese it is impossible to clearly define what part of speech a particular word belongs to, and all the divisions available in textbooks are conditional and "adjusted" for the convenience of a European reader to his usualconcepts.
  • Chinese is a system of monosyllabic words that combine in various combinations.
  • The meaning of a particular syllable is determined by the tone, while the meanings themselves may not be related to each other. There are four tones in Chinese, as well as a neutral tone.

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