7 - Shrek

7. The Classification of languages
Languages can be classified in 2 ways: according to their genetic relationships: members are assumed to have
descended from the same ancestor language (texts written in this lang. have been preserved) or it may be a
reconstructed protolanguage (no original text). According to their structural characteristics (similar patterns and
grammatical rules).
Genetic classification: The world’s lang.-es (4000-8000) can be grouped into a relatively small number of lang.
families. Difficulties of genetic classification: - not enough or too much data; indicators of genetic relationship often
drop our of lang.s.
Indo-European family: number of lang.s. approx. 100- it is quite a small lang. family. It has 9 branches: Germanic
(East Gmc. (Gothicextinct);North Gmc. Or Scandinavian: Icelandic, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian); West Gmc.
(German, Dutch, Afrikaans, Frisian, English), Celtic (Continental  Gaulish -been extinct for long time; Insular 
Brythonic (Welsh, Breton, Cornish) & Goidelic (Irish/Irish Gaelc, Scots Gaelic); Italic (Eastern: Italian, Rumenian;
Western Ibero Romance: Spanish, Portugese, Catalan; Gallo Romance: French); Hellenic (Greek), Albanian,
Armenian , Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian), Slavic (East: Russian, Ukranian, Byelorussian; South: Slovenian, Serbocroatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian; West: Czech, Slovak, Polish, Serbian), Indo-Iranian (Iranian, Indic, Gypsy).
Typological classification: according to their structural characterisctics, patterns that occur in most human languages.
Phonology: Vowel systems: most lang.s have 5 different vowels: 2 high (i, u); 2 mid (e, o); 1 low(a)- most commonly
occuring vowel phoneme. Consonant systems: not on the basis of the number; all lang.s. have stops (p, t, k), most
common fricative (s), every lang has at least 1 nasal phoneme (n), most lang. has a liquid phoneme (l). Prosodic
/suprasegmental type: . Lang.s, in which pitch distinctions are phonemic, are called tone languages. Tones are of 2
types: level tones and contour tones. Syllabic structures: All lang.s permit V & CV syllable structure (V=syllabic
element, C=non-syllabic element). These structures are assumed to be unmarked, since they appear in all lang.s. If a
lang. permits sequences of consonants in a syllable onset, then it will also permit single consonants or zero consonants
in the onset. If a lang. permits C sequences in a syllable coda, then it will permit single consonants in a coda.
Morphology: Combining morphemes to form words 4 types of systems, although no lg. fits any of these types
perfectly. Isolating (or analytic) type: the words of the lg. consist of a single morpheme. Categories such as number &
tense are usually expressed by a free morpheme (=a separate word). E. g.: Mandarin. Agglutinating type: the lg. makes
use of words containing 2 or more morphemes (=a root + 1 or more affixes). Each affix is clearly identifiable &
characteristically encodes a single grammatical contrast. E.g.: Turkish. Fusional type: words in a ~ or an inflectional
lg. are also complex. Fusional affixes often mark several grammatical categories simultaneously. E.g.: Russian.
Polysynthetic type: in a ~ lg. long strings of affixes or bound forms are united into single words, which may translate
as an entire sentence in English. The use of portmanteau morphemes is common. E.g.: Inuktitut, Cree, Sarcee.
Syntax: Study of word order: 3 most common word orders: SOV, SVO & VSO. All these place the subject before the
Od. Subject: usually encodes the topic. (SOV  Turkish; SVO  Eng.; VSO  Welsh.)
If a lg. has VSO word order, then it will have prepositions rather than postpositions.
If a lg. has SOV word order, then it will probably have postpositions rather than prepositions.
In lg.-es with VSO order, adj.-es & relative clauses usually follow the N that they modify.
Lg.-es with SOV order will usually place both adj.-s & relative cl.-es before the N they modify.
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