Analytic language

In linguistic typology, an analytic language is a language that primarily conveys relationships between words in sentences by way of helper words (particles, prepositions, etc.) and word order, as opposed to utilizing inflections (changing the form of a word to convey its role in the sentence). For example, the English-language phrase "The cat chases the ball" conveys the fact that the cat is acting on the ball analytically via word order. This can be contrasted to synthetic languages, which rely heavily on inflections to convey word relationships (e.g., the phrases "The cat chases the ball" and "The cat chased the ball" convey different time frames via changing the form of the word chase). Most languages are not purely analytic, but many rely primarily on analytic syntax.

Typically, analytic languages have a low morpheme-per-word ratio, especially with respect to inflectional morphemes. A grammatical construction can similarly be analytic if it uses unbound morphemes, which are separate words, and/or word order. Analytic languages rely more heavily on the use of definite and indefinite articles, which tend to be less prominently used or absent in strongly synthetic languages; stricter word order; various prepositions, postpositions, particles, and modifiers; and context.

Background

The term analytic is commonly used in a relative rather than an absolute sense. The currently most prominent and widely used analytic language is modern English, which has lost much of the inflectional morphology inherited from Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Germanic, and Old English over the centuries and has not gained any new inflectional morphemes in the meantime, making it more analytic than most Indo-European languages.

For example, while Proto-Indo-European had much more complex grammatical conjugation, grammatical genders, dual number and inflections for eight or nine cases in its nouns, pronouns, adjectives, numerals, participles, postpositions and determiners, standard English has lost nearly all of them (except for three modified cases for pronouns) along with genders and dual number and simplified its conjugation.

Latin, German, Greek, and Russian are synthetic languages. Nouns in Russian inflect for at least six cases, most of them descended from Proto-Indo-European cases, whose functions English translates using other strategies like prepositions, verbal voice, word order, and 's instead.

Israeli Hebrew is much more analytic than Classical Hebrew "both with nouns and with verbs".[1]

Other Languages