Synthetic and analytic languages


In today’s article we are going to speak about types of languages, according to their morphological classification. I took this topic not by accident. It will help you to understand better the structure of different languages, including Roman, Germanic and Slavic groups. You will know what make them be different from each other and how the sentences are creating and correlating. Let’s get started !

According to the morphological classification, all languages of the world are divided into groups. In this article, we are interested just in one of them. The group of inflexional languages. The second name is fusional languages. « Inflexion » means an ending. It means that the ending expresses the grammatical meaning, such as gender, number, person, tense, case etc.

From the XIX century, all inflexional languages were divided into two big groups : synthetic and analytic languages. Ukrainian, Russian, German, Polish, Czech, Byelorussian languages belong to the first group. English, French, Bulgarian, Danish, Hindi languages belong to the second one.

The synthetic languages are the languages where the grammatical meaning expresses with the help of the endings, affixes, alternations (or simply the sound changing), suppletion (for example, in some Slavic languages there is imperfective and perfective form of words).

Let’s look at the example of suppletion in the Ukrainian language.

« Бачив » – masculine, the 3rd person, singular, imperfective ; → he saw

« Побачив » – masculine, the 3rd person, singular, perfective ; → he has seen

To create the perfective form of a verb we need to add a prefix, sometimes – suffix.

The analytic languages are the languages where lexical and grammatical meanings are separated. The lexical meaning is expressed with the whole words, and the grammatical meaning is expressed with functional words (articles, pronouns, conjunctions, particles, auxiliary verbs etc.), word order and intonation.

To understand this information more clearly, I will give you some examples.

Let’s take the ukrainian word « кіт » – a cat. Коту – to the cat, біля кота – near the cat.

The same is for french « кіт » – un chat. Коту – au chat, біля кота – près du chat.

As you can see, in the Ukrainian language the word changes its ending, so the meaning also changes. In the English and French languages, we need to add functional words to give the exact meaning.

The word order is important for the analytic languages whereas for the synthetical it is not important. In Ukrainian we can say « додому йдемо », which means literally « to home we go ». In English it sounds strange. « We go home » is much more better. In English or French, for example, we should keep the word order « noun-verb-object », while for Ukrainian it is not obligatory.

The endings in the inflexional languages can express a lot : кота (-a) – masculine, singular, genitive case.

It is just the basic information, but I hope it will help you to understand the structure of Roman, Germanic and Slavic languages. It will make you learning languages easier.

French and Russian versions

10 commentaires

  1. Wow, I wish I had an affinity for languages! I attempted Spanish in high school and then a serious boyfriend of my past was a Russian linguist, so I attempted to learn with him while he was in language school for the military. Both were epic fails! I highly commend any language enthusiasts, though, it is one of the most useful tools you will learn! Thanks for the great article!

  2. Feru, you are a fabulous teacher. Language is a really difficult subject that takes much patience to teach. I took German for 5 years, and today I remember about two words. Sad, but true. I know a lot of people will really benefit from your informative posts. Thanks so much for sharing. #ibabloggers

  3. I know you probably hear this all the time, but you are wonderful at explaining concepts that are difficult to understand. This post is so helpful for language learners. One of the biggest problems with learning a new language is that we only consider how to translate them into our own native language. Does that make sense? Probably not… I’ll use an example. There is a campaign that promotes milk as a good source of calcium, and the catch phrase for that campaign is « Got Milk? ». In the US, it makes sense, because it is asking us if we have milk. But when translated into Spanish, it literally means, « Are you lactating? » Which is definitely not what we are asking…. I really don’t know where I’m going with this… Just… Good job 🙂 Love your blog 🙂 #ibabloggers

  4. I agree when learning a new language you have to stop thinking in your language and in the language you are teaching/learning. My Spanish teacher in high school told us:  » Think in Spanish not Greek or English » This is a phrase I use with my kids and students. Besides blogging I’m also an ESL teacher 🙂 Congrats great article !!

    1. Thank you! Yes, the main thing is start thinking in the language you are learning. But for some people it is very difficult. By the way, this is great to be ESL teacher! We have lots in common!

  5. What a great post! I am a language geek myself and love how you put this difficult information in such an easy to understand way. Really enjoying your blog!


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