Indo-European languages

Originally (pre-colonial era) parts of Asia and large parts of Europe, now worldwide
c. 3.2 billion native speakers
Linguistic classificationOne of the world's primary language families
ISO 639-2 / 5ine
Indo-European branches map.svg
Present-day distribution of Indo-European languages, within their homeland of Eurasia:
  Non-Indo-European languages
Dotted/striped areas indicate where multilingualism is common
  • Italicized branches mean only one extant language of the branch remains
  • indicates this branch of the language family is extinct

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects in Asia and Europe.[2]

There are about 445 living Indo-European languages, according to the estimate by Ethnologue, with over two thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch.[3] The Indo-European languages with the greatest numbers of native speakers are Spanish, English, Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu), Portuguese, Bengali, Punjabi, and Russian, each with over 100 million speakers, with German, French, Marathi, Italian, and Persian also having more than 50 million. Today, 46% of the world's population (3.2 billion) speaks an Indo-European language as a first language, by far the highest of any language family.

The Indo-European family includes most of the modern languages of Europe. The language family is also represented in Asia with the exception of East and Southeast Asia. It was prominent (alongside non-Indo-European languages) in ancient Anatolia (present-day Turkey), the ancient Tarim Basin (present-day Northwest China) and most of Central Asia until the medieval Turkic and Mongol invasions. Outside Eurasia, Indo-European languages are dominant in the Americas and much of Oceania and Africa, having reached there through colonialism during the Age of Discovery and later periods. Indo-European languages are also most commonly present as minority languages or second languages in countries where other families are dominant.

With written evidence appearing from the Bronze Age in the form of Mycenaean Greek and the Anatolian languages Hittite and Luwian, the Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the second-longest recorded history, after the Afroasiatic family in the form of the Egyptian language and the Semitic languages of the Near East. In addition, certain extinct language isolates of the Near East and Anatolia, such as Sumerian, Elamite, Hurrian, Hattian, Gutian, and Kassite are also recorded earlier than any Indo-European tongue.

All Indo-European languages are descendants of a single prehistoric language, reconstructed as Proto-Indo-European, spoken sometime in the Neolithic era. Although no written records remain, aspects of the culture and religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans can be reconstructed from the information that is known, like related cultures of ancient and modern Indo-European speakers who continue to live in areas where the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their original homeland.[4] Several disputed proposals link Indo-European to other major language families. Although they are written in the Semitic Old Assyrian language and with the use of the Cuneiform script of Mesopotamia, the Hittite words and names found in the texts of the Assyrian colony of Kültepe in eastern Anatolia are the oldest record of any Indo-European language.[5]

During the nineteenth century, the linguistic concept of Indo-European languages was frequently used interchangeably with the racial concepts of Aryan and Japhetite.[6]

History of Indo-European linguistics

In the 16th century, European visitors to the Indian subcontinent began to notice similarities among Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and European languages. In 1583, English Jesuit missionary and Konkani scholar Thomas Stephens wrote a letter from Goa to his brother (not published until the 20th century)[7] in which he noted similarities between Indian languages and Greek and Latin.

Another account was made by Filippo Sassetti, a merchant born in Florence in 1540, who travelled to the Indian subcontinent. Writing in 1585, he noted some word similarities between Sanskrit and Italian (these included devaḥ/dio "God", sarpaḥ/serpe "serpent", sapta/sette "seven", aṣṭa/otto "eight", and nava/nove "nine").[7] However, neither Stephens' nor Sassetti's observations led to further scholarly inquiry.[7]

In 1647, Dutch linguist and scholar Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn noted the similarity among certain Asian and European languages and theorized that they were derived from a primitive common language which he called Scythian.[8] He included in his hypothesis Dutch, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Persian, and German, later adding Slavic, Celtic, and Baltic languages. However, Van Boxhorn's suggestions did not become widely known and did not stimulate further research.

Franz Bopp, pioneer in the field of comparative linguistic studies.

Ottoman Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi visited Vienna in 1665–1666 as part of a diplomatic mission and noted a few similarities between words in German and in Persian. Gaston Coeurdoux and others made observations of the same type. Coeurdoux made a thorough comparison of Sanskrit, Latin and Greek conjugations in the late 1760s to suggest a relationship among them. Meanwhile, Mikhail Lomonosov compared different language groups, including Slavic, Baltic ("Kurlandic"), Iranian ("Medic"), Finnish, Chinese, "Hottentot" (Khoekhoe), and others, noting that related languages (including Latin, Greek, German and Russian) must have separated in antiquity from common ancestors.[9]

The hypothesis reappeared in 1786 when Sir William Jones first lectured on the striking similarities among three of the oldest languages known in his time: Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, to which he tentatively added Gothic, Celtic, and Persian,[10] though his classification contained some inaccuracies and omissions.[11] In one of the most famous quotations in linguistics, Jones made the following prescient statement in a lecture to the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1786, conjecturing the existence of an earlier ancestor language, which he called "a common source" but did not name:

The Sanscrit [sic] language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists.[note 1]

— Sir William Jones, Third Anniversary Discourse delivered 2 February 1786, ELIOHS[12]

Thomas Young first used the term Indo-European in 1813, deriving from the geographical extremes of the language family: from Western Europe to North India.[13][14] A synonym is Indo-Germanic (Idg. or IdG.), specifying the family's southeasternmost and northwesternmost branches. This first appeared in French (indo-germanique) in 1810 in the work of Conrad Malte-Brun; in most languages this term is now dated or less common than Indo-European, although in German indogermanisch remains the standard scientific term. A number of other synonymous terms have also been used.

Franz Bopp wrote in 1816 On the conjugational system of the Sanskrit language compared with that of Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic[15] and between 1833 and 1852 he wrote Comparative Grammar. This marks the beginning of Indo-European studies as an academic discipline. The classical phase of Indo-European comparative linguistics leads from this work to August Schleicher's 1861 Compendium and up to Karl Brugmann's Grundriss, published in the 1880s. Brugmann's neogrammarian reevaluation of the field and Ferdinand de Saussure's development of the laryngeal theory may be considered the beginning of "modern" Indo-European studies. The generation of Indo-Europeanists active in the last third of the 20th century (such as Calvert Watkins, Jochem Schindler, and Helmut Rix) developed a better understanding of morphology and of ablaut in the wake of Kuryłowicz's 1956 Apophony in Indo-European, who in 1927 pointed out the existence of the Hittite consonant ḫ.[16] Kuryłowicz's discovery supported Ferdinand de Saussure's 1879 proposal of the existence of coefficients sonantiques, elements de Saussure reconstructed to account for vowel length alternations in Indo-European languages. This led to the so-called laryngeal theory, a major step forward in Indo-European linguistics and a confirmation of de Saussure's theory.[citation needed]

Other Languages
Արեւմտահայերէն: Հնդեւրոպական Լեզուներ
armãneashti: Limbe indoeuropeane
azərbaycanca: Hind-Avropa dilləri
Bân-lâm-gú: Ìn-Au gí-hē
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Індаэўрапейскія мовы
davvisámegiella: Indoeurohpálaš gielat
dolnoserbski: Indoeuropske rěcy
estremeñu: Luengas induropeas
贛語: 印歐語系
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: इंडो-युरोपियन भाशा पंगड
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Yin-Êu Ngî-ne
hornjoserbsce: Indoeuropske rěče
Bahasa Indonesia: Rumpun bahasa Indo-Eropa
interlingua: Linguas indoeuropee
kriyòl gwiyannen: Lanng endo-éropéenn
Lëtzebuergesch: Indoeuropäesch Sproochen
Lingua Franca Nova: Linguas indoeuropean
la .lojban.: xindo ropno bangu
Nedersaksies: Indo-Uropese taolen
Napulitano: Lengue innoeuropee
norsk nynorsk: Indoeuropeiske språk
occitan: Indoeuropèu
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Hind-Yevropa tillari
qırımtatarca: İnd-Avropa tilleri
Simple English: Indo-European languages
slovenščina: Indoevropski jeziki
Soomaaliga: Luqada Hindo Yurub
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Indoevropski jezici
татарча/tatarça: Һинд-аурупа телләре
Tiếng Việt: Ngữ hệ Ấn-Âu
文言: 印歐語系
West-Vlams: Indo-Europees
吴语: 印欧语系
粵語: 印歐語系
中文: 印欧语系