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the combination of elements from different religions or different cultural traditions. Syncretism in religious belief and practices has been especially associated with contexts, e.g. colonialism, in which a major religion is brought into contact with local religions, but it can also be seen as a general feature of the transformation of religions or cultures and of DIASPORAS. See also CULT, CARGO CULT, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) The absence of differentiation that characterizes an undeveloped state of certain phenomena. Examples are art during the initial stages of human culture, when music, singing, poetry, and the dance were not distinguished from one another, and a child’s mental functions during the early stages of its development.

(2) The blending or inorganic merging of heterogeneous elements. An example is the merging of different cults and religious systems in late antiquity— the religous syncretism of the Hellenistic period.

(3) In philosophy, syncretism denotes a variant of eclecticism.



in linguistics, the merging of once formally distinct grammatical categories or meanings into one form, which, as a result, becomes polysemous or polyfunctional. In Latin, for example, syncretism in the case system led to a combining of the functions of the instrumental and locative cases in the ablative case. Syncretism can occur not only in the morphology but also in the syntax of a language. The concept of syncretism is paradigmatic, differing from the syntagmatic neutralization of oppositions. Syncretism is an irreversible systemic shift in the process of the development of a language; neutralization is a living process associated with the use of linguistic units in speech.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Those cases show different tendencies towards syncretism in different dialect areas, as illustrated in the following map based on Shrier (1965):
It splits up the area into an eastern part, where the three-way case distinction is limited to the first (and second) person singular pronoun and there is a tendency of an accusative-dative syncretism in masculine parts of speech, and a western part, where the three-way case distinction occurs in more pronominal constructions and where a tendency towards nominative-accusative syncretism in masculine items has been observed (see Shrier 1965: 434-435).
Syncretism and distinctions are classified on the basis of information exclusively given from one single idiolect (see also 3.2).
There is therefore significant uncertainty as to the nature of case syncretism, basically summarizable in two principles: if this phenomenon were exclusively dependent on what we can call 'semantic' features (regarding meaning and function), then its occurrence should be absolutely predictable, i.e.
From this point of view, which is evidently less emphatic, syncretism can be considered as a compounding of semantic, syntactic and morphological aspects.
Case syncretism between genitive and dative (Zusammenfall von Genitiv undDativ, Schaller 1975: 100-101) is shared by Romanian, Albanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Greek.
Since this study of syncretism patterns aims to answer the question which functions the Allative marker can express other than the Allative, no information can be retrieved as to whether Locative and Ablative can be syncretic to the exclusion of the Allative, that is, L=S[??]G (1d).
To conclude, from the five logically possible syncretism patterns in (1), only three seem to be widely attested, namely the boldfaced ones.
Let us now turn back to the syncretism patterns discussed in Section 1.
But concerns with revelatory fidelity and cultural relevance are implicit at multiple levels across the frontiers of Christian witness, where the letter and, it is hoped, the spirit of biblical teaching is articulated, appropriated, and applied within cultural settings and through languages worlds removed from those of the theologians and missionaries who have systematized and standardized this "sound teaching." In either case, the line between relevance and syncretism can often be exasperatingly variable, difficult to discern, and controversial.
Jonas Adelin Jorgensen's lead article shows how Christian witness on cultural-religious frontiers raises fresh questions about bewilderingly complex and constantly evolving issues of contextualization and syncretism in predominantly Hindu and Muslim societies, where the word "Christian" has long been associated with the worst that the West has to offer.
Gort, ed., Dialogue and Syncretism: An Interdisciplinary Approach (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989); see also the articles on syncretism in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research 16/2 (April, 1992).