The smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. Word parts that have independent meaning but may or may not be able to stand alone.

E.g. Unbreakable = un- + break + -able. un-, break, -able are morphemes.

Synthetic vs analytic languages

  • Synthetic languages combine (synthesize) multiple concepts into each word.
  • Analytic languages break up (analyze) concepts into separate words.

Two extremes:

  • The most analytic languages consistently have one morpheme per word
  • In polysynthetic languages a single inflected verb may contain as much information as an entire English sentence.

The classification is not "either/or", but instead a "continuum":

  • The present-day English is seen as analytic, but it used to be fusional.
  • Mandarin lacks inflectional morphology almost entirely.

Inflection vs Conjugation vs Agglutination

  • Inflection = root word + different morphemes.
  • Conjugation = inflection of verbs.

Two distinguished types of inflections:

  • Agglutination (Agglutinative Languages) = word modification is done by adding suffixes, each suffix makes only a single grammatical or semantic feature. E.g. Mongolian, Japanese, Korean, Turkish.
  • Fusion (Fusional Languages) = use a single inflectional morpheme to denote multiple grammatical or semantic features. E.g. Spanish.

Romance languages / Latin languages


Recognized as an official language in 29 countries:

  • France
  • Congo (DRC): The Democratic Republic of the Congo currently has the largest French-speaking population of any country outside France. While French is the official language and widely used in education and government, there are four national languages: Kikongo (Kituba), Lingala, Swahili, and Tshiluba. French became a popular language in the Democratic Republic of Congo when it was colonized by Belgium in 1885.
  • Canada
  • Cameroon
  • Belgium
  • Ivory Coast
  • Madagascar
  • Haiti
  • Senegal
  • Burkina Faso
  • Benin
  • Guinea
  • Mali
  • Togo
  • Congo (RC)
  • Niger
  • Chad
  • Switzerland
  • Central African Republic
  • Gabon
  • Burundi
  • Rwanda
  • Luxembourg
  • Djibouti
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Comoros
  • Vanuatu
  • Seychelles
  • Monaco


Official language of

  • Europe: Spain
  • American: 18 countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela) as well as of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico,
  • Africa: Equatorial Guinea

Spanish vs Portuguese

  1. The Spanish alphabet has 28 letters and the Portuguese 23.
  2. There are words in Spanish and Portuguese language, which are spelled the same but pronounced differently and vice versa.
  3. While the Spanish language has kept most of the Mozarabic vocabulary of Arabic origin, the Portuguese language does not have this Mozarabic substratum but replaced it with with Latin roots.

Germanic Languages

  • The Western Germanic languages include German, English, Dutch, Frisian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Luxembourgish, Yiddish and Afrikaans.
    • German is the 2nd most spoken Germanic language (after English which is also a Germanic language).
    • German is especially well known for its ability to create completely new and super specific words.
    • German is the official language (or one of the official languages) in six different countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. German has roughly 100 million native speakers.
    • Dutch is very close to English and German. Some say it is in between English and German.
    • Flemish: a.k.a Belgian Dutch or Southern Dutch.
  • The Northern Germanic languages (also known as Scandinavian or Nordic languages) include Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese. This whole branch descended from Old Norse.
  • The Eastern Germanic languages all went extinct starting in the 4th century, and the last living language of this branch died in the late 18th century. The only East Germanic language of which texts are known is Gothic. Crimean Gothic is believed to have survived until the 18th century in isolated areas of Crimea.


Origin in East Africa.

Swahili is the official language in

  • Tanzania
  • Rwanda
  • Kenya
  • Uganda

Swahili coast: Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya, Mozambique, Comoros

The Swahili people are a Bantu ethnic group inhabiting East Africa.

Sixteen to twenty percent of the Swahili vocabulary are Arabic loanwords. Originally written with the Arabic script, Swahili is now written in a Latin alphabet introduced by Christian missionaries and colonial administrators.

Also used in

  • the east parts of DR Congo (though French is the country's sole official language)

Cyrillic to Latin


Urdu vs Hindi

Urdu and Hindi, an official federal language of India, are different registers of the same language, and thus they are mutually intelligible and can use each other's script to write the other's language.

Usage of script generally signifies the user's faith:

  • Muslims generally use the Urdu (Perso-Arabic 波斯—阿拉伯字母) script
  • Hindus use the Devanagari script (天城文)

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