Analytic languages and their function.

Johanna Rubba jrubba at
Fri May 26 18:34:27 UTC 2006

I haven't been following this discussion -- sorry -- but I'm stumped by 
this statement by Steve Long:

"synthetic languages reflect a more mature development"

What does "mature" mean? Is Steve trying to say that synthetic 
languages are capable of expressing more-nuanced meanings than analytic 
languages? What would lead one to believe this? Languages heavy with 
fusional or agglutinative morphology are often full of redundancy -- 
even English's simple plural suffix is redundant enough to be omitted 
in some dialects when context makes the plurality clear. Is "five 
shoes" more "mature" than "five shoe"?

Creoles that grow out of impoverished pidgins often develop analytic 
means of expressing nuanced tenses and aspects, as African American 
English has done with words like "do" and "be", expressing things like 
immediate vs. remote past, durativity, and so on. Is doing this with 
analytic morphology less "mature" than doing it with suffixes and bound 

Dr. Johanna Rubba, Associate Professor, Linguistics
Linguistics Minor Advisor
English Department
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
E-mail: jrubba at
Tel.: 805.756.2184
Dept. Ofc. Tel.: 805.756.2596
Dept. Fax: 805.756.6374

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