Is Lithuanian a polysynthetic language?
Articles
Peter Arkadiev
Vilnius University, Lithuania; Institute of Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia; Russian State University for the Humanities, Russia
Published 2021-07-26
https://doi.org/10.15388/SBOL.2021.1
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Keywords

Lithuanian
morphology
polysynthesis
typology
verb

How to Cite

Arkadiev P. (2021) “Is Lithuanian a polysynthetic language?”, Vilnius University Open Series, pp. 28-44. doi: 10.15388/SBOL.2021.1.

Abstract

This paper reviews the definitions and operationalisations of the notion of “polysynthesis” proposed in the typological literature and applies them to Lithuanian (verbal) morphology. It is shown that while Lithuanian falls short of polysynthesis in terms of morphemes-to-words ratio and lacks such features as polypersonalism and incorporation, it still possesses certain properties associated with polysynthesis. These include the so-called lexical affixes (it is argued that Lithuanian verbal prefixes are an example of these) and, to a limited extent, “productive non-inflectional concatenation”, i.e. morphemes with a high combinatory potential and compositional meanings, including successively applying verbalisers and nominalisers. These observations not only shed novel light on some well-known facts of Lithuanian grammar, but also further underscore the multifactorial and vague nature of polysynthesis.

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