Synthetic Language

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Related to Synthetic Language: Analytic language, Polysynthetic languages

synthetic language

[sin′thed·ik ′laŋ·gwij]
(computer science)
A pseudocode or symbolic language; fabricated language.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Synthetic Language


a member of a typological class of languages in which grammatical meanings are predominantly expressed by synthetic forms. Synthetic languages are in contradistinction to analytic languages, in which grammatical meanings are expressed by means of auxiliary words, and to polysynthetic languages, in which several nominal and verbal lexical meanings are combined within an indivisible complex that outwardly resembles a word.

The basis for the division of languages into synthetic, analytic, and polysynthetic languages is, in fact, syntactic; the division therefore intersects but does not coincide with the morphological classification of languages. The classification of languages according to synthetic and analytic features was proposed by A. von Schlegel (only for inflected languages); A. Schleicher expanded the classification to include agglutinative languages.

The morphemes making up a word in a synthetic language may be combined according to the principles of agglutination or fusion, or they may undergo positional alternations, for example, vowel harmony in Turkish. Synthetic forms occur in a significant number of the world’s languages. Since languages are not, in principle, typologically homogeneous, the term “synthetic language” is applied to languages that exhibit a sufficiently high degree of synthesis. Such languages include the Turkic, Finno-Ugric, most Hamito-Semitic, ancient Indo-European, Mongolian, Manchu-Tungus, some African (such as Bantu), Caucasian, Paleo-Asiatic, and American Indian languages.


Kuznetsov, P. S. Morfologicheskaia klassifikatsiia iazykov. Moscow, 1954.
Uspenskii, B. A. Strukturnaia tipologiia iazykov. Moscow, 1965.
Rozhdestvenskii, lu. V. Tipologiia slova. Moscow, 1969.
“Lingvisticheskaia tipologiia.” In Obshchee iazykoznanie, vol. 2. Moscow, 1972.
Home, K. M. Language Typology: 19th and 20th Century Views. Washington, D.C., 1966.
Pottier, B. “La Typologie.” In Le Langage: Encyclopédie de la Pléiade, vol. 25. Paris, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Small wonder then that so many recent synthetic languages have issued from the realms of fantasy and fanfic.
2.1 (Dis)Advantages of Analytic and Synthetic Languages
As for synthetic languages (most Slavic languages, Baltic, most Caucasian and other languages) with their looser dependence on the word order, the meaning of a sentence is not so strongly influenced by the word order, but the allegedly flexible word order implies undercurrents of subtle deviations in the meanings of sentences owing to the seemingly insignificant syntactic changes.
The failure of popular acceptance of the synthetic languages is typical.