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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Morphemes in Polysynthetic Languages
Submitter: Kela Ruuskanen
Description: In a polysynthetic language, can a morpheme have a meaning in and of itself
without being used in an utterance? Can you please provide an example of
such a morpheme, and the name of the language? I have been told that such a
morpheme does not exist, that an 'utterance' in a polysynthetic language
must consist of a complete sentence. Is this the case?

This leads to a further question: how can you have morpheme to morpheme
translating dictionaries for a polysynthetic language, if no morpheme has
meaning alone? Are translating 'glosses' of phrases the only reference
possible for translators?

Thanks very much for your input.

Date Posted: 26-Oct-2010
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology
LL Issue: 21.4248
Posted: 26-Oct-2010

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