Oligosynthetic language

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An oligosynthetic language (from the Greek ὀλίγος, meaning "few" or "little") is any language using very few morphemes, perhaps only a hundred, which combine synthetically. The concept of an oligosynthetic language type was proposed by Benjamin Whorf to describe the Native American language Nahuatl, although he did not further pursue this idea.[1]

Because no natural language has been shown to exhibit oligosynthetic properties, some linguists regard true oligosynthesis as impossible or impractical for productive use by humans; its use is limited to some constructed languages, such as Ygyde, Newspeak, Sona, and aUI.[citation needed]


  1. Ellos, William J (1982). "Benjamin Lee Whorf and Ultimate Reality and Meaning". Ultimate Reality and Meaning. 5 (2): 140–150. doi:10.3138/uram.5.2.140.

See also[edit]

  • Alphabet of human thought
  • Natural semantic metalanguage
  • Semantic primitives
  • Polysynthetic language

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