Types of Computer Languages with Their Advantages and Disadvantages

Updated on August 28, 2015
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Just as humans use language to communicate, and different regions have different languages, computers also have their own languages that are specific to them.

Different kinds of languages have been developed to perform different types of work on the computer. Basically, languages can be divided into two categories according to how the computer understands them.

Two Basic Types of Computer Language

  • Low-Level Languages: A language that corresponds directly to a specific machine
  • High-Level Languages: Any language that is independent of the machine

There are also other types of languages, which include

  • System languages: These are designed for low-level tasks, like memory and process management
  • Scripting languages: These tend to be high-level and very powerful
  • Domain-specific languages: These are only used in very specific contexts
  • Visual languages: Languages that are not text-based
  • Esoteric languages: Languages that are jokes or are not intended for serious use

These languages are not mutually exclusive, and some languages can belong to multiple categories. The terms low-level and high-level are also open to interpretation, and some languages that were once considered high-level are now considered low-level as languages have continued to develop.

Low-Level Languages

Low-level computer languages are either machine codes or are very close them. A computer cannot understand instructions given to it in high-level languages or in English. It can only understand and execute instructions given in the form of machine language i.e. binary. There are two types of low-level languages:

  • Machine Language: a language that is directly interpreted into the hardware
  • Assembly Language: a slightly more user-friendly language that directly corresponds to machine language

Machine Language

Machine language is the lowest and most elementary level of programming language and was the first type of programming language to be developed. Machine language is basically the only language that a computer can understand and it is usually written in hex.

In fact, a manufacturer designs a computer to obey just one language, its machine code, which is represented inside the computer by a string of binary digits (bits) 0 and 1. The symbol 0 stands for the absence of an electric pulse and the 1 stands for the presence of an electric pulse. Since a computer is capable of recognizing electric signals, it understands machine language.

Machine language makes fast and efficient use of the computer.
All operation codes have to be remembered
It requires no translator to translate the code. It is directly understood by the computer.
All memory addresses have to be remembered.
It is hard to amend or find errors in a program written in the machine language.

Assembly Language

Assembly language was developed to overcome some of the many inconveniences of machine language. This is another low-level but very important language in which operation codes and operands are given in the form of alphanumeric symbols instead of 0’s and l’s.

These alphanumeric symbols are known as mnemonic codes and can combine in a maximum of five-letter combinations e.g. ADD for addition, SUB for subtraction, START, LABEL etc. Because of this feature, assembly language is also known as ‘Symbolic Programming Language.'

This language is also very difficult and needs a lot of practice to master it because there is only a little English support in this language. Mostly assembly language is used to help in compiler orientations. The instructions of the assembly language are converted to machine codes by a language translator and then they are executed by the computer.

Assembly language is easier to understand and use as compared to machine language.
Like machine language, it is also machine dependent/specific.
It is easy to locate and correct errors.
Since it is machine dependent, the programmer also needs to understand the hardware.
It is easily modified.

High-Level Languages

High-level computer languages use formats that are similar to English. The purpose of developing high-level languages was to enable people to write programs easily, in their own native language environment (English).

High-level languages are basically symbolic languages that use English words and/or mathematical symbols rather than mnemonic codes. Each instruction in the high-level language is translated into many machine language instructions that the computer can understand.

High-level languages are user-friendly
A high-level language has to be translated into the machine language by a translator, which takes up time
They are similar to English and use English vocabulary and well-known symbols
The object code generated by a translator might be inefficient compared to an equivalent assembly language program
They are easier to learn
They are easier to maintain
They are problem-oriented rather than 'machine'-based
A program written in a high-level language can be translated into many machine languages and can run on any computer for which there exists an appropriate translator
The language is independent of the machine on which it is used i.e. programs developed in a high-level language can be run on any computer text

Types of High-Level Languages

Many languages have been developed for achieving a variety of different tasks. Some are fairly specialized, and others are quite general.

These languages, categorized according to their use, are:

1) Algebraic Formula-Type Processing

These languages are oriented towards the computational procedures for solving mathematical and statistical problems.

Examples include:

  • BASIC (Beginners All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code)
  • FORTRAN (Formula Translation)
  • PL/I (Programming Language, Version 1)
  • ALGOL (Algorithmic Language)
  • APL (A Programming Language)

2. Business Data Processing

These languages are best able to maintain data processing procedures and problems involved in handling files. Some examples include:

  • COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language)
  • RPG (Report Program Generator)

3. String and List Processing

These are used for string manipulation, including search patterns and inserting and deleting characters. Examples are:

  • LISP (List Processing)
  • Prolog (Program in Logic)

4. Object-Oriented Programming Language

In OOP, the computer program is divided into objects. Examples are:

  • C++
  • Java

5. Visual Programming Language

These programming languages are designed for building Windows-based applications.Examples are:

  • Visual Basic
  • Visual Java
  • Visual C

A Helpful Resource on Computer Languages

Classifying Computer Languages

This resource was used to help write this article. It has more information on this topic and goes into more depth on some of the other kinds of languages and their uses. To get the most out of it, you should have some knowledge of or background in computer science.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image

    Rudra Shankar Kamila 

    4 years ago

    It's notes is very nice..........

  • profile image

    Arnab Das 

    4 years ago

    Very much helpful for any beginners ...... good work....

  • profile image

    Khalid kasim 

    4 years ago

    It's really helpful. ....

  • profile image


    10 years ago


  • profile image


    10 years ago

    very good detailed explanation


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)