Inflection Paper: Linguistics

Topics: Inflection, Grammatical number, English language Pages: 3 (937 words) Published: March 18, 2011
Lauren Slocum
13 May 2009
Professor J. Esposito
English 150
Paper #3: Questions on Inflection
Question #19: What is meant by Inflection? Illustrate.
Assuming my definition does not define inflections found in one particular language, and instead be defined in general terms (associated within all languages affected), the word inflection in linguistics is an adjustment made to stem (in the form of a prefix, suffix, infix, etc.) to clarify: how many, to which gender an object belongs, when an event has taken place, in which tense the 3rd person (singular) has acted, mood, voice, and also in the comparative or definitive form of an adjective (bigger, biggest). I will illustrate the effect of inflection when a noun changes from singular to plural form: By adding the plural affix “S” to a noun, a plural inflection takes place. The following two examples can convey completely different meanings by the simple addition of “S” to the word “bags”: Example 1: “John loaded up his bag and headed toward the train stop.” Example 2: “Johns loaded up his bags and headed toward the train stop.” The first example differs from the second example because John carries more than one bag to the train stop in example two. The inflected word “bags” is the only information we need to come to this conclusion. Not only does inflection define the specifics or mechanics of a sentence, but I believe that inflection is also something that can affect the reader’s perspective. Example one most likely conveys to the reader that John is headed from one place to the next with his (one) bag. But in example two, it may be assumed by the reader that John is departing from one place to another for a longer period of time considering the amount of baggage he lugs. Question #20: Select a piece of prose and eliminate all inflections. Is it comprehensible? Which inflections seem to be necessary? Could any still be lost? Excerpt (taken from “A Cat’s Diary”):

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped...
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