Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
Bengali) or that agglutinative languages (Finnish) have in many instances gradually taken on inflective features are well-known facts, but the natural inference does not seem to have been often drawn that possibly the contrast between synthetic and analytic or agglutinative and inflective (fusional) is not so fundamental after all. Turning to the Indo-Chinese languages, we find that Chinese is as near to being a perfectly isolating language as any example we are likely to find, while Classical Tibetan has not only fusional but strong symbolic features (e.g., g-tong-ba to give, past b-tang, future g-tang, imperative thong); but both are pure-relational languages. Ewe is either isolating or only barely agglutinative, while Shilluk, though soberly analytic, is one of the most definitely symbolic languages I know; both of these Soudanese languages are pure-relational. The relationship between Polynesian and Cambodgian is remote, though practically certain; while the latter has more markedly fusional features than the former,27 both conform to the complex pure-relational type. Yana and Salinan are superficially very dissimilar languages. Yana is highly polysynthetic and quite typically agglutinative, Salinan is no more synthetic than and as irregularly and compactly fusional (inflective) as Latin; both are pure-relational. Chinook and Takelma, remotely related languages of Oregon, have diverged very far from each other, not only as regards technique and synthesis in general but in almost all the details of their structure; both are complex mixed-relational languages, though in very different ways. Facts such as these seem to lend color to the suspicion that in the contrast of pure-relational and mixed-relational (or concrete-relational) we are confronted by something deeper,