What language is the most inflected?

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What language is the most inflected?

Postby SpareSymbol » Fri 11 Sep 2009 4:30 pm

It doesn't matter if it is extinct or constructed, but I would like some literature available to learn it. The more irregular the better.

I'm looking for a language that inflects verbs to carry tense, aspect, subject, object, and whatever you can cram in there and one that inflects nouns for a bunch of cases, singularity, duality, plurality, definitiveness, and whatever else.

I've heard the Baltic-Slavic branch of Indo-European languages are the most inflected but I'm looking for a specific language.
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby linguoboy » Fri 11 Sep 2009 4:44 pm

SpareSymbol wrote:I've heard the Baltic-Slavic branch of Indo-European languages are the most inflected but I'm looking for a specific language.

Not by a long shot. Past tense verbs don't even inflect for person in most of them. What you want is one of the polysynthetic languages. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone here knows them well enough to be able to judge which really contains the most mandatory distinctions.
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby Declan » Fri 11 Sep 2009 6:43 pm

If you want a really irregular language (it's not polysynthetic or even close), look at Old Irish. It's very irregular.
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Very good: Irish
Reasonable: German, French
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby linguoboy » Fri 11 Sep 2009 7:57 pm

Declan wrote:If you want a really irregular language (it's not polysynthetic or even close), look at Old Irish. It's very irregular.

Old Irish is ridiculous, but I still don't think it can hold a smoldering taper to Navajo. Now there's a verbal system to make anything Indo-European look reasonable!
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby Talib » Fri 11 Sep 2009 8:54 pm

Some of the languages of the Caucasus are mind-boggling. Tsez has over 120 cases (!).
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby linguoboy » Fri 11 Sep 2009 8:57 pm

Talib wrote:Some of the languages of the Caucasus are mind-boggling. Tsez has over 120 cases (!).

What's the verbal system like? Anything akin to split-ergativity and mind-bendng screeves of Kartvelian?
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby Talib » Fri 11 Sep 2009 9:08 pm

Take a look and see if this makes more sense to you than it does to me:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsez_language#Verbs
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby linguoboy » Fri 11 Sep 2009 9:16 pm

Talib wrote:Take a look and see if this makes more sense to you than it does to me:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsez_language#Verbs

Complex enough, but not as bad as Georgian. Now if only some of those periphrastic tenses grammaticalised the auxiliary to the point of synthesis and then we'd be within sight of Crazytown!
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby formiko » Sat 12 Sep 2009 6:26 am

linguoboy wrote:
Talib wrote:Take a look and see if this makes more sense to you than it does to me:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsez_language#Verbs

Complex enough, but not as bad as Georgian. Now if only some of those periphrastic tenses grammaticalised the auxiliary to the point of synthesis and then we'd be within sight of Crazytown!

Navajo is definitely a contender. Believe it or not, there ARE rules, just loads of them :)
But Navajo doesn't hold a candle to Lushootseed or Coeur d’Alene. While grammaticaly it'll make a grown man cry, it's consonant clusters are nothing to sneeze at. While this isn't a typical word, the clusters are typical: xłp̓x̣ʷłtłpłłskʷc̓ . I think it has 17 consonants in a row. "he had had a bunchberry plant"
Tlingit is also nightmarish. I did my dissertation on Tlingit.
I'll give a quick example:
yas'eil - rip
tléil x'éitx yaa ees'él'jeek - Don't tear it open

(vowels will change in the middle of a word!)

s'ísaa woóshdax xwaas'éil - I tore it apart
x'úx' kaxas'él't - I am making a pile of paper
gèiwoo kawdis'éil' - The net is ripped
daak yaawas'él' - earring (it is pierced/torn through)

Maybe some of you can see the root yas'éil throughout. It's easy to say it's obvious when you're reading it, but in "real life", it's the farthest from easy. The underlines letters are separate letters. x sounds like you're coughing up a piece of popcorn kernel stuck on your tonsil, but x' is extra special. It's a mix of that sound plus chunky snot mixed in. (That's how a member of the tribe explained it to me!)
While Cherokee is considered agglutinative, compared to Northwest Pacific languages, it's like Indonesian!
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Re: What language is the most inflected?

Postby Anders » Sat 12 Sep 2009 10:01 am

Talib wrote:Tsez has over 120 cases (!).

Hmm..the wikipedia says 64...
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