Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
as peculiar to the inflective languages. First of all, they are synthetic rather than analytic. This does not help us much. Relatively to many another language that resembles them in broad structural respects, Latin and Greek are not notably synthetic; on the other hand, their modern descendants, Italian and Modern Greek, while far more analytic13 than they, have not departed so widely in structural outlines as to warrant their being put in a distinct major group. An inflective language, we must insist, may be analytic, synthetic, or polysynthetic.
Latin and Greek are mainly affixing in their method, with the emphasis heavily on suffixing. The agglutinative languages are just as typically affixing as they, some among them favoring prefixes, others running to the use of suffixes. Affixing alone does not define inflection. Possibly everything depends on just what kind of affixing we have to deal with. If we compare our English words farmer and goodness with such words as height and depth, we cannot fail to be struck by a notable difference in the affixing technique of the two sets. The -er and -ness are affixed quite mechanically to radical elements which are at the same time independent words (farm, good). They are in no sense independently significant elements, but they convey their meaning (agentive, abstract quality) with unfailing directness. Their use is simple and regular and we should have no difficulty in appending them to any verb or to any adjective, however recent in origin. From a verb to camouflage we may form the noun camouflager one who camouflages, from an adjective jazzy proceeds with
Note 13. This applies more particularly to the Romance group: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Roumanian. Modern Greek is not so clearly analytic. [back]