Oligosynthetic language

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"Oligosynthesis" redirects here. For the artificial creation of short strings of nucleic acids, see Oligonucleotide synthesis.

An oligosynthetic language (from the Greek ὀλίγος, meaning "few" or "little") is any language using very few morphemes, perhaps only a few hundred, which combine synthetically to form statements. It is contrasted to polysynthetic languages. Oligosynthesis is almost entirely theoretical and would depend heavily on the creation of lengthy compound words, to an extent far exceeding that of regular synthetic languages.

There are no known natural human languages that are oligosynthetic. The Native American languages Nahuatl and Blackfoot have in the past been claimed to exhibit oligosynthetic qualities (most notably by Benjamin Whorf). However, the linguistic community has largely rejected these claims, preferring to categorize Nahuatl and Blackfoot as polysynthetic.

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 Newspeak, Sona, and aUI.

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