Edward Sapir > Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech > Subject Index > Page 147
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Edward Sapir (1884–1939).  Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech.  1921.
 

Page 147
 
mental questions concerning the translation of concepts into linguistic symbols. Does the language, in the first place, keep its radical concepts pure or does it build up its concrete ideas by an aggregation of inseparable elements (types A and C versus types B and D)? And, in the second place, does it keep the basic relational concepts, such as are absolutely unavoidable in the ordering of a proposition, free of an admixture of the concrete or not (types A and B versus types C and D)? The second question, it seems to me, is the more fundamental of the two. We can therefore simplify our classification and present it in the following form:
I. Pure-relational LanguagesA. Simple
B. Complex
II. Mixed-relational Languages C. Simple
D. Complex
  The classification is too sweeping and too broad for an easy, descriptive survey of the many varieties of human speech. It needs to be amplified. Each of the types A, B, C, D may be subdivided into an agglutinative, a fusional, and a symbolic sub-type, according to the prevailing method of modification of the radical element. In type A we distinguish in addition an isolating sub-type, characterized by the absence of all affixes and modifications of the radical element. In the isolating languages the syntactic relations are expressed by the position of the words in the sentence. This is also true of many languages of type B, the terms “agglutinative,” “fusional,” and “symbolic” applying in their case merely to the treatment of the derivational, not the relational, concepts. Such languages could be

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