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What does 'inflected' mean?

Sparkle_Ravelle 4 | 11
9 Feb 2010 #1
Hi, I've just come across a note in my language book that states that 'Polish is a highly inflected language so has a much freer word order'

My problem is that I've never actually heard this term 'inflected' - at first I assumed it meant something to do with the pitch of your voice....but this sentence doesn't seem to...and any google/wikipedia 'explanation' I can find seems to be written for someone with a PHD in linguistics.

Could anyone explain to me in easy/laymens' terms what 'inflected' means and why it is different to English? :)
cinek 2 | 345
9 Feb 2010 #2
what 'inflected' means and why it is different to English?

If words are inflected their endings change according to case, person, tense, etc. In Polish there are 7 cases and 5 persons that influence how nouns and adjectives look like i.e. they require applying appropriate endings to them. Similarily 3 tenses and things like aspect and mood influence verbs (their endings and also used prefixes).

This subject is very well explained in Wikipedia.

jakubzurawski - | 17
9 Feb 2010 #3
An inflected language is one which has words which have different forms (also called inflections.) English is also an inflected language and for instance "goes", "go", "went" and "gone" are all forms of "to go".

Polish words however have much more various forms than English (that's why it's called "highly inflected".) For instance English "big" has just one form while polish "duży" has a lot of them (take a look at the bottom of this page:

duży at Gigadictionary
OP Sparkle_Ravelle 4 | 11
9 Feb 2010 #4
ahaaa! That's great, thank you very much. And gigdictionary's very useful :)

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