Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
are concerned, their inflection consists essentially of the fusing of elements that express logically impure relational concepts with radical elements and with elements expressing derivational concepts. Both fusion as a general method and the expression of relational concepts in the word are necessary to the notion of inflection.
But to have thus defined inflection is to doubt the value of the term as descriptive of a major class. Why emphasize both a technique and a particular content at one and the same time? Surely we should be clear in our minds as to whether we set more store by one or the other. Fusional and symbolic contrast with agglutinative, which is not on a par with inflective at all. What are we to do with the fusional and symbolic languages that do not express relational concepts in the word but leave them to the sentence? And are we not to distinguish between agglutinative languages that express these same concepts in the wordin so far inflective-likeand those that do not? We dismissed the scale: analytic, synthetic, polysynthetic, as too merely quantitative for our purpose. Isolating, affixing, symbolicthis also seemed insufficient for the reason that it laid too much stress on technical externals. Isolating, agglutinative, fusional, and symbolic is a preferable scheme, but still skirts the external. We shall do best, it seems to me, to hold to inflective as a valuable suggestion for a broader and more consistently developed scheme, as a hint for a classification based on the nature of the concepts expressed by the language.