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The Indo-European languages are a
language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original sou ...
native to western and southern
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, t ...

Eurasia
. It comprises most of the
languages of Europe Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. Out of a total European population of 744 million as of 2018, some 94% are native speakers of an Indo-European language; within Indo-European, the three largest phyla are '' ...

languages of Europe
together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. Some European languages of this family, such as
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Souther ...

Portuguese
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, and
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
, have expanded through
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose thei ...
in the modern period and are now spoken across several continents. The Indo-European family is divided into several branches or sub-families, of which there are eight groups with languages still alive today:
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
,
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
,
Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other ...
,
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
,
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
, Hellenic,
Indo-Iranian
Indo-Iranian
, and
Italic
Italic
; and another six subdivisions which are now extinct. Today, the most populous individual languages are
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of Eastern Hindi spoken in Fiji, and i ...
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
,
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
,
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Souther ...

Portuguese
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and
Punjabi Panjābī (pʌnˈdʒɑːbi) (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (پنجابی) Punjabi or Panjabi most often refers to: * Something of, from, or related to Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a ge ...
, each with over 100 million speakers. However, many other Indo-European languages are small and in danger of extinction:
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
, for instance, has fewer than 600 speakers. In total, 46 percent 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. There are about 445 living Indo-European languages, according to the estimate by ''
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as Ethnoloɠue) is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living languages of the world. It was first issued in 1951, and is now ...
'', with over two-thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch. All Indo-European languages are descended from a single prehistoric language,
reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
as
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( s ...
(PIE), spoken sometime in the
Neolithic The Neolithic period is the final division of the Stone Age, with a wide-ranging set of developments that appear to have arisen independently in several parts of the world. It is first seen about 12,000 years ago when the first developments of ...
era. Its precise geographical location, the Indo-European ''urheimat'', is unknown and has been the object of many competing hypotheses; the most widely accepted is the
Kurgan hypothesis The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or Steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland The Proto-Indo-European homeland (or Indo-European homeland) was the pr ...
, which posits the ''urheimat'' to be the
Pontic–Caspian steppe '' Tulipa suaveolens'' is one of the most typical spring flowers of the Pontic-Caspian steppe. The Pontic–Caspian steppe (sometimes called the "Caspian steppe" or "Pontic steppe") is the steppe File:Steppe of western Kazakhstan in ...
, associated with the
Yamnaya culture The Yamnaya culture (/ˈjamnaja/), from Russian Я́мная культу́ра, or Yamnaya Horizon, (mistakenly) Yamna culture, (translated) Pit Grave culture, or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archaeological cul ...

Yamnaya culture
around 3000 BC. By the time the first written records appeared, Indo-European had already evolved into numerous languages spoken across much of Europe and south-west Asia. Written evidence of Indo-European appeared during the
Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a prehistoric Periodization, period that was characterized by the use of bronze, in some areas proto-writing, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second principal period of the Three-age syst ...
in the form of
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of la ...
and the
Anatolian languages The Anatolian languages are an extinct branch of Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the nort ...
,
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
and
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
. The oldest records are isolated Hittite words and names – interspersed in texts that are otherwise in the unrelated Old Assyrian Akkadian language, a
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
language – found in the texts of the Assyrian colony of
Kültepe Kültepe (Turkish language, Turkish: "Ash Hill" and fa, کل تپه ''koltape''), also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site in Kayseri Province, Turkey. The nearest modern city to Kültepe is Kayseri, about 20 km southwest. It ...
in eastern Anatolia in the 20th century BC. Although no older written records of the original
Proto-Indo-Europeans The Proto-Indo-Europeans were a hypothetical prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed ...
remain, some aspects of their culture and
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...
can be reconstructed from later evidence in the daughter cultures. The Indo-European family is significant to the field of
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages # to ...
as it possesses the second-longest
recorded history Recorded history or written history is a History, historical narrative based on a written record or other documented communication. It contrasts with other narratives of the past, such as mythological, Oral history, oral or Archaeological recor ...
of any known family, after the
Afroasiatic family Afroasiatic (Afro-Asiatic), also known as Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic or Semito-Hamitic, is a large language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( spoken language), gestures (Signed lang ...
in the form of the
Egyptian language The Egyptian language or Ancient Egyptian ( egy, 𓂋𓏺𓈖 𓆎𓅓𓏏𓊖, , cop, ϯⲙⲉⲧⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ) is an Afroasiatic languages, Afro-Asiatic language which was spoken in ancient Egypt. Its attestation stretches over ...
and the Semitic languages. The analysis of the family relationships between the Indo-European languages, and the reconstruction of their common source, was central to the development of the methodology of historical linguistics as an academic discipline in the 19th century. The Indo-European family is not known to be linked to any other language family through any more distant genetic relationship, although several disputed proposals to that effect have been made. During the nineteenth century, the linguistic concept of Indo-European languages was frequently used interchangeably with the racial concepts of
Aryan Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural self-designation by Indo-Iranians in ancient times, in contrast to the nearby outsiders known as 'non-Aryan' (*''an-arya''). In Ancient India, the term '' ...
and
Japhetite Japhetite (in adjective form Japhethitic or Japhetic) in Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic people, Semitic-originated religions th ...
.


History of Indo-European linguistics

During the 16th century, European visitors to the Indian subcontinent began to notice similarities among
Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also

*Aryan invasion theory (disambiguation) *Indo-Aryan tribes (disambigua ...
,
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
, and
European European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European
languages. In 1583, English
Jesuit , image = Ihs-logo.svg , caption = ChristogramOfficial seal of the Jesuits , abbreviation = SJ , nickname = Jesuit , formation = , founders = Ignatius of LoyolaFrancis Xavi ...
missionary and Konkani scholar Thomas Stephens wrote a letter from
Goa Goa () is a state on the southwestern coast of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the ...

Goa
to his brother (not published until the 20th century) in which he noted similarities between Indian languages and
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
. Another account was made by
Filippo Sassetti
Filippo Sassetti
, a merchant born in
Florence Florence ( ; it, Firenze ) is a city in Central Italy and the capital city of the Tuscany Regions of Italy, region. It is the most populated city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area. Flor ...

Florence
in 1540, who travelled to the Indian subcontinent. Writing in 1585, he noted some word similarities between
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
and Italian (these included ''devaḥ''/''dio'' "God", ''sarpaḥ''/''serpe'' "serpent", ''sapta''/''sette'' "seven", ''aṣṭa''/''otto'' "eight", and ''nava''/''nove'' "nine"). However, neither Stephens' nor Sassetti's observations led to further scholarly inquiry. In 1647,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
linguist and scholar noted the similarity among certain Asian and European languages and theorized that they were derived from a primitive common language which he called Scythian. He included in his hypothesis
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
,
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, and
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
, later adding ,
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
, and
Baltic languages The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic languages, Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. Baltic languages are spoken by the Balts, mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Se ...

Baltic languages
. However, Van Boxhorn's suggestions did not become widely known and did not stimulate further research. Ottoman Turkish traveler
Evliya Çelebi Derviş Mehmed Zillî (25 March 1611 – 1682), known as Evliya Çelebi ( ota, اوليا چلبى), was an Ottoman Empire, Ottoman explorer who travelled through the territory of the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands over a period of forty yea ...
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 Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov (; russian: Михаил (Михайло) Васильевич Ломоносов, p=mʲɪxɐˈil vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ , a=Ru-Mikhail Vasilyevich Lomonosov.ogg; – ) was a Russian polymath A polymath ( e ...

Mikhail Lomonosov
compared different language groups, including Slavic, Baltic (" Kurlandic"), Iranian ("
Medic A medic is a person involved in medicine such as a medical doctor, medical student, paramedic or an emergency medical responder. Among physicians in the UK, the term "medic" indicates someone who has followed a "medical" career path in post ...
"),
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
,
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a populat ...
, "Hottentot" (
Khoekhoe Khoekhoen (or Khoikhoi in the former orthography; formerly also '' Hottentots''"Hottentot, n. and adj." ''OED Online'', Oxford University Press, March 2018, www.oed.com/view/Entry/88829. Accessed 13 May 2018. Citing G. S. Nienaber, 'The origin ...
), and others, noting that related languages (including Latin, Greek, German and Russian) must have separated in antiquity from common ancestors.M.V. Lomonosov (drafts for ''Russian Grammar'', published 1755). In: Complete Edition, Moscow, 1952, vol. 7, pp. 652–59
Представимъ долготу времени, которою сіи языки раздѣлились. ... Польской и россійской языкъ коль давно раздѣлились! Подумай же, когда курляндской! Подумай же, когда латинской, греч., нѣм., росс. О глубокая древность! magine the depth of time when these languages separated! ... Polish and Russian separated so long ago! Now think how long ago [this happened toKurlandic! Think when [this happened to] Latin, Greek, German, and Russian! Oh, great antiquity!]
The hypothesis reappeared in 1786 when William Jones (philologist), Sir William Jones first lectured on the striking similarities among three of the oldest languages known in his time:
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
, and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominalization, nominally , ''saṃskṛtam'') is a classical language of South Asia belonging to the Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia ...

Sanskrit
, to which he tentatively added
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
,
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
, and
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, though his classification contained some inaccuracies and omissions. In one of the most famous quotations in linguistics, Jones made the following prescient statement in a lecture to the
Asiatic Society of Bengal The Asiatic Society is an organisation founded during the British Raj The British Raj (; from ''rāj'', literally, "rule" in Sanskrit and Hindustani language, Hindustani) was the rule by the The Crown, British Crown on the Indian subc ...
in 1786, conjecturing the existence of an earlier ancestor language, which he called "a common source" but did not name: first used the term ''Indo-European'' in 1813, deriving it from the geographical extremes of the language family: from
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. Beginning with foreign exploration during the Age of Discovery, roughly from the 15th century, the concept of ''Europe'' as "the W ...

Western Europe
to
North India North India is a loosely defined region consisting of the northern part of India. The dominant geographical features of North India are the Indus-Gangetic Plain and the Himalayas, which demarcate the region from the Tibetan Plateau and Central ...

North India
. 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 Conrad Malte-Brun (12 August 177514 December 1826), born Malthe Conrad Bruun, and sometimes referred to simply as Malte-Brun, was a Danish people, Dano-French people, French geographer and journalist. His second son, Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, was ...
; 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 Franz Bopp (; 14 September 1791 – 23 October 1867) was a German linguist known for extensive and pioneering comparative work on Indo-European languages. Early life Bopp was born in Mainz, but the political disarray in the Republic of M ...

Franz Bopp
wrote in 1816 ''On the conjugational system of the Sanskrit language compared with that of Greek, Latin, Persian and Germanic'' and between 1833 and 1852 he wrote ''Comparative Grammar''. This marks the beginning of
Indo-European studies Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics and an interdisciplinary field of study dealing with Indo-European languages, both current and extinct. The goal of those engaged in these studies is to amass information about the hypothetical prot ...
as an academic discipline. The classical phase of Indo-European
comparative linguistics Comparative linguistics, or comparative-historical linguistics (formerly comparative philology) is a branch of historical linguistics that is concerned with comparing languages to establish their historical History (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
leads from this work to
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), ...

August Schleicher
's 1861 ''Compendium'' and up to
Karl Brugmann Karl Brugmann (16 March 1849 – 29 June 1919) was a Germany, German linguist. He is noted for his work in Indo-European linguistics. Biography He was educated at the universities of University of Halle, Halle and University of Leipzig, Leipzig. H ...

Karl Brugmann
's '' Grundriss'', published in the 1880s. Brugmann's
neogrammarian The Neogrammarians (German: ''Junggrammatiker'', 'young grammarians') were a German school of linguists Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods ...
reevaluation of the field and
Ferdinand de Saussure Ferdinand de Saussure (; ; 26 November 1857 – 22 February 1913) was a Swiss Swiss may refer to: * the adjectival form of Switzerland ,german: Schweizer(in),french: Suisse(sse), it, svizzero/svizzera or , rm, Svizzer/Svizra , government_typ ...

Ferdinand de Saussure
's development of the
laryngeal theory The laryngeal theory is a widely accepted hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can testable, test it ...
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 Calvert Watkins ( /ˈwɒtkɪnz/; March 13, 1933 – March 20, 2013) was an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
,
Jochem Schindler Jochem Schindler (8 November 1944 in Amstetten, Lower Austria – 24 December 1994 in Prague) was an Austrian Indo-Europeanist. In spite of his comparatively thin bibliography, he made important contributions, in particular to the theory of Proto-In ...
, and
Helmut Rix Helmut Rix (4 July 1926, in Amberg – 3 December 2004, in Colmar) was a German linguist and professor of the Sprachwissenschaftliches Seminar of Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg, Germany. He is best known for his research into Indo-E ...
) developed a better understanding of morphology and of
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
in the wake of Kuryłowicz's 1956 ''Apophony in Indo-European,'' who in 1927 pointed out the existence of the Hittite consonant ḫ. 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 The laryngeal theory is a widely accepted hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can testable, test it ...
, a major step forward in Indo-European linguistics and a confirmation of de Saussure's theory.


Classification

The various subgroups of the Indo-European language family include ten major branches, listed below in alphabetical order: *
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
, attested from the 13th century AD;
Proto-Albanian The Proto-Albanian language is the unattested language from which Albanian later developed. Albanian evolved from an ancient Paleo-Balkan language, traditionally thought to be Illyrian, or otherwise a totally unattested Balkan Indo-European l ...
evolved from an ancient Paleo-Balkan language, traditionally thought to be
Illyrian Illyrian may refer to: * Illyria, the historical region on the Balkan Peninsula ** Illyrians, ancient tribes inhabiting Illyria ** Illyrian language, a language or group of languages of ancient Illyrian tribes * Illyrian (South Slavic), a common na ...
, or otherwise a totally unattested Balkan
Indo-European language The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the northern Indian subcontinent and the Iranian Plateau. A few of these languages, su ...
that was closely related to Illyrian and Messapic. * Anatolian, extinct by
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Insti ...
, spoken in
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, attested in isolated terms in
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
/
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...

Hittite
mentioned in
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
Old Assyrian texts from the 20th and 19th centuries BC,
Hittite texts Hittite may refer to: * Hittites The Hittites () were an Anatolian peoples, Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1680–1650 BCE. This empire reached its h ...
from about 1650 BC. *
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
, attested from the early 5th century AD. *
Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other ...
, believed by most Indo-Europeanists to form a phylogenetic unit, while a minority ascribes similarities to prolonged language-contact. ** (from
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nati ...
), attested from the 9th century AD ( possibly earlier), earliest texts in
Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic (, ) was the first Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with standardizing the language and using it in translating the Bible ...
. Slavic languages include
Bulgarian Bulgarian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Bulgaria * Bulgarians, a South Slavic ethnic group * Bulgarian language, a Slavic language * Bulgarian alphabet * A citizen of Bulgaria, see Demographics of Bulgaria * Bulg ...
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Polish Polish may refer to: * Anything from or related to Poland Poland ( pl, Polska ), officially the Republic of Poland ( pl, Rzeczpospolita Polska, links=no ), is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 Voivodeships of Pol ...
,
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic (; cs, Česká republika ), also known by its short-form name, Czechia (; cz, Česko ), is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is bordered by Au ...
,
Slovak Slovak may refer to: * Something from, related to, or belonging to Slovakia (''Slovenská republika'') * Slovaks, a Western Slavic ethnic group * Slovak language, an Indo-European language that belongs to the West Slavic languages * Slovak, Arkans ...
, Silesian, Kashubian,
Macedonian Macedonian most often refers to someone or something from or related to Macedonia (disambiguation), Macedonia. Macedonian may specifically refer to: People Modern * Macedonians (ethnic group), the South Slavic ethnic group primarily associated w ...
,
Serbo-Croatian Serbo-Croatian () – also called Serbo-Croat (), Serbo-Croat-Bosnian (SCB), Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BCS), and Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian (BCMS) – is a South Slavic language and the primary language of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia a ...
(
Bosnian Bosnian may refer to: *Anything related to the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina or its inhabitants *Anything related to Bosnia (region) or its inhabitants * Bosniaks, an ethnic group mainly inhabiting Bosnia and Herzegovina and one of three Ethnic gr ...
,
Croatian Croatian may refer to: *Croatia *Croatian cuisine *Croatian language *Croatian name *Croats, people from Croatia, or of Croatian descent *Citizens of Croatia, see demographics of Croatia See also

* Croatia (disambiguation) * Serbo-Croatian (di ...

Croatian
, Montenegrin,
Serbian Serbian may refer to: * someone or something related to Serbia, a country in Southeastern Europe * someone or something related to the Serbs, a South Slavic people * in both meanings, depending on the context, it may refer to: ** Serbian language ...
), Sorbian,
Slovenian Slovene or Slovenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Slovenia, a country in Central Europe * Slovene language, a South Slavic language mainly spoken in Slovenia * Slovenes, an ethno-linguistic group mainly living in Slovenia * Sla ...
,
Ukrainian Ukrainian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Ukraine * Something relating to Ukrainians an East Slavic people from Eastern Europe * Something relating to Demographics of Ukraine, in terms of demography: population of Ukraine * Somethi ...
,
Belarusian Belarusian may refer to: * Something of, or related to Belarus * Belarusians, people from Belarus, or of Belarusian descent * A citizen of Belarus, see Demographics of Belarus * Belarusian language * Belarusian culture * Belarusian cuisine * Byeloru ...
, and Rusyn. **
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
, attested from the 14th century AD; although attested relatively recently, they retain many archaic features attributed to
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( s ...
(PIE). Living examples are
Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
and Latvian. *
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
(from
Proto-Celtic The Proto-Celtic language, also called Common Celtic, is the ancestral proto-language of all the known Celtic languages, and a descendant of the Proto-Indo-European language. It is not directly attested in writing, but has been partially Linguist ...
), attested since the 6th century BC; Lepontic inscriptions date as early as the 6th century BC; Celtiberian from the 2nd century BC;
Primitive Irish Primitive Irish or Archaic Irish ( ga, Gaeilge Ársa) is the oldest known form of the Goidelic. It is known only from fragments, mostly personal names, inscribed on stone in the ogham Ogham (; Modern Irish ; sga, ogam ) is an Early Medie ...
Ogham inscription File:Ogham map.png, Map of Ireland, Isle of Man and Britain; black dots mark Ogham inscriptions. Roughly 400 known ogham inscriptions are on stone monuments scattered around the Irish Sea, the bulk of them dating to the fifth and sixth centuries. ...
s from the 4th or 5th century AD, earliest inscriptions in
Old Welsh Old Welsh ( cy, Hen Gymraeg) is the stage of the Welsh language Welsh ( or ) is a Brittonic languages, Brittonic language of the Celtic language family that is native to the Welsh people. Welsh is spoken natively in Wales, by some in Englan ...
from the 7th century AD. Modern Celtic languages include
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
,
Cornish Cornish is the adjective and demonym associated with Cornwall, the most southwesterly part of the United Kingdom. It may refer to: * Cornish language, a Brittonic Southwestern Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, spoken in Cornwall ...
,
Breton Breton most often refers to: *anything associated with Brittany Brittany (; french: link=no, Bretagne ; br, Breizh, or ; Gallo language, Gallo: ''Bertaèyn'' ) is a peninsula and cultural region in the west of France, covering the western part ...
,
Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig ), also known as Scots Gaelic and Gaelic, is a Goidelic language The Goidelic or Gaelic languages ( ga, teangacha Gaelacha; gd, cànanan Goidhealach; gv, çhengaghyn Gaelgagh) form one of the two groups of ...
,
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
and
Manx Manx (; formerly sometimes spelled Manks) is an adjective (and derived noun) describing things or people related to the Isle of Man: * Manx people **Manx surnames * Isle of Man It may also refer to: Languages * Manx language, also known as Manx ...
. *
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
(from Proto-Germanic), earliest attestations in Runes, runic inscriptions from around the 2nd century AD, earliest coherent texts in
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
, 4th century AD. Old English manuscript tradition from about the 8th century AD. Includes
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, Frisian languages, Frisian,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () *Dutch language , spoken in Belgium (also referred as ''flemish'') Dutch may also refer to:" Castle * Dutch Castle Places * ...
, Scots language, Scots,
Danish Danish may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to the country of Denmark * A national or citizen of Denmark, also called a "Dane", see Demographics of Denmark * Danish people or Danes, people with a Danish ancestral or ethnic identity * Danis ...
, Swedish language, Swedish, Norwegian language, Norwegian, Afrikaans language, Afrikaans, Yiddish language, Yiddish, Low German, Icelandic language, Icelandic and Faroese language, Faroese. * Hellenic and
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
(from Proto-Greek language, Proto-Greek, see also History of Greek); fragmentary records in Mycenaean language, Mycenaean
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
from between 1450 and 1350 BC have been found. Homeric texts date to the 8th century BC. * , attested circa 1400 BC, descended from Proto-Indo-Iranian language, Proto-Indo-Iranian (dated to the late 3rd millennium BC). **
Indo-AryanIndo-Aryan refers to: * Indo-Aryan languages ** Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni or Mitanni-Aryan * Indo-Aryan peoples, the various peoples speaking these languages See also

*Aryan invasion theory (disambiguation) *Indo-Aryan tribes (disambigua ...
(including Dardic languages, Dardic), attested from around 1400 BC in
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
texts from
Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and the westernmost protrusion of the Asian continent. It makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region ...
, showing Indo-Aryan superstrate in Mitanni, traces of Indo-Aryan words. Epigraphically from the 3rd century BC in the form of Prakrit (Edicts of Ashoka). The Rigveda is assumed to preserve intact records Patha, via oral tradition dating from about the mid-2nd millennium BC, second millennium BC in the form of Vedic Sanskrit. Includes a wide range of modern languages from Northern India, Southern Pakistan and Bangladesh including
Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of Eastern Hindi spoken in Fiji, and i ...
,
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
, Odia language, Odia, Assamese language, Assamese,
Punjabi Panjābī (pʌnˈdʒɑːbi) (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (پنجابی) Punjabi or Panjabi most often refers to: * Something of, from, or related to Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a ge ...
, Kashmiri language, Kashmiri, Gujarati language, Gujarati, Marathi language, Marathi, Sindhi language, Sindhi and Nepali language, Nepali as well as Sinhala language, Sinhala of Sri Lanka and Maldivian language, Dhivehi of the Maldives and Minicoy. **
Iranian Iranian may refer to: * Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( fa, جمهوری اسلامی ایران ), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia ...
or Iranic, attested from roughly 1000 BC in the form of Avestan language, Avestan. Epigraphically from 520 BC in the form of Old Persian (Behistun inscription). Includes
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
, Ossetian language, Ossetian, Pashto language, Pashto and Kurdish language, Kurdish. ** Nuristani languages, Nuristani (includes Kamkata-vari language, Kamkata-vari, Wasi-wari, Vasi-vari, Askunu language, Askunu, Waigali language, Waigali, Tregami language, Tregami, and Zemiaki language, Zemiaki). * (from Proto-Italic language, Proto-Italic), attested from the 7th century BC. Includes the ancient Osco-Umbrian languages, Faliscan language, Faliscan, as well as
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
and its descendants, the Romance languages, such as Italian language, Italian, Venetian language, Venetian, Galician language, Galician, Sardinian language, Sardinian, Neapolitan language, Neapolitan, Sicilian language, Sicilian,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
, Asturleonese language, Asturleonese,
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
, Romansh language, Romansh, Occitan language, Occitan,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Souther ...

Portuguese
, Romanian language, Romanian, and Catalan language, Catalan. * Tocharian languages, Tocharian, with proposed links to the Afanasevo culture of Southern Siberia. Extant in two dialects (Turfanian and Kuchean, or Tocharian A and B), attested from roughly the 6th to the 9th century AD. Marginalized by the Old Turkic Uyghur Khaganate and probably extinct by the 10th century. In addition to the classical ten branches listed above, several extinct and little-known languages and language-groups have existed or are proposed to have existed: * Ancient Belgian language, Ancient Belgian: hypothetical language associated with the proposed Nordwestblock cultural area. Speculated to be connected to Italic or Venetic, and to have certain phonological features in common with Lusitanian. * Cimmerian language, Cimmerian: possibly Iranic, Thracian, or Celtic * Dacian language, Dacian: possibly very close to Thracian * Elymian language, Elymian: Poorly-attested language spoken by the Elymians, one of the three indigenous (i.e. pre-Greek and pre-Punic) tribes of Sicily. Indo-European affiliation uncertain, but relationships to Italic or Anatolian have been proposed. *
Illyrian Illyrian may refer to: * Illyria, the historical region on the Balkan Peninsula ** Illyrians, ancient tribes inhabiting Illyria ** Illyrian language, a language or group of languages of ancient Illyrian tribes * Illyrian (South Slavic), a common na ...
: possibly related to Albanian, Messapian, or both * Liburnian language, Liburnian: evidence to scant and uncertain to determine anything with certainty * Ligurian language (ancient), Ligurian: possibly close to or part of Celtic. * Lusitanian language, Lusitanian: possibly related to (or part of) Celtic, Ligurian, or Italic * Ancient Macedonian language, Ancient Macedonian: proposed relationship to Greek. * Messapian language, Messapian: not conclusively deciphered * Paionian language, Paionian: extinct language once spoken north of Macedon * Phrygian language, Phrygian: language of the ancient Phrygians * Sicel language, Sicel: an ancient language spoken by the Sicels (Greek Sikeloi, Latin Siculi), one of the three indigenous (i.e. pre-Greek and pre-Punic) tribes of Sicily. Proposed relationship to Latin or proto-Illyrian (Pre-Indo-European) at an earlier stage. * Sorothaptic language, Sorothaptic: proposed, pre-Celtic, Iberian language * Thracian language, Thracian: possibly including Dacian * Venetic language, Venetic: shares several similarities with Latin and the Italic languages, but also has some affinities with other IE languages, especially Germanic and Celtic. Membership of languages in the Indo-European language family is determined by Genetic (linguistics), genealogical relationships, meaning that all members are presumed descendants of a common ancestor,
Proto-Indo-European Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the theorized common ancestor of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech ( s ...
. Membership in the various branches, groups and subgroups of Indo-European is also genealogical, but here the defining factors are ''shared innovations'' among various languages, suggesting a common ancestor that split off from other Indo-European groups. For example, what makes the Germanic languages a branch of Indo-European is that much of their structure and phonology can be stated in rules that apply to all of them. Many of their common features are presumed innovations that took place in Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germanic, the source of all the Germanic languages. In the 21st century, several attempts have been made to model the phylogeny of Indo-European languages using Bayesian methodologies similar to those applied to problems in biological phylogeny. Although there are differences in absolute timing between the various analyses, there is much commonality between them, including the result that the first known language groups to diverge were the Anatolian and Tocharian language families, in that order.


Tree versus wave model

The "tree model" is considered an appropriate representation of the genealogical history of a language family if communities do not remain in contact after their languages have started to diverge. In this case, subgroups defined by shared innovations form a nested pattern. The tree model is not appropriate in cases where languages remain in contact as they diversify; in such cases subgroups may overlap, and the "Wave model (linguistics), wave model" is a more accurate representation. Most approaches to Indo-European subgrouping to date have assumed that the tree model is by-and-large valid for Indo-European; however, there is also a long tradition of wave-model approaches. In addition to genealogical changes, many of the early changes in Indo-European languages can be attributed to language contact. It has been asserted, for example, that many of the more striking features shared by Italic languages (Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, etc.) might well be Areal feature (linguistics), areal features. More certainly, very similar-looking alterations in the systems of long vowels in the West Germanic languages greatly postdate any possible notion of a proto-language innovation (and cannot readily be regarded as "areal", either, because English and continental West Germanic were not a linguistic area). In a similar vein, there are many similar innovations in Germanic and Balto-Slavic that are far more likely areal features than traceable to a common proto-language, such as the uniform development of a high vowel (*''u'' in the case of Germanic, *''i/u'' in the case of Baltic and Slavic) before the PIE syllabic resonants *''ṛ, *ḷ, *ṃ, *ṇ'', unique to these two groups among IE languages, which is in agreement with the wave model. The Balkan sprachbund even features areal convergence among members of very different branches. An extension to the ''Donald Ringe, Ringe-Tandy Warnow, Warnow model of language evolution'', suggests that early IE had featured limited contact between distinct lineages, with only the Germanic subfamily exhibiting a less treelike behaviour as it acquired some characteristics from neighbours early in its evolution. The internal diversification of especially West Germanic is cited to have been radically non-treelike.


Proposed subgroupings

Specialists have postulated the existence of higher-order subgroups such as Italo-Celtic, Graeco-Armenian, Graeco-Aryan or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, and Balto-Slavo-Germanic. However, unlike the ten traditional branches, these are all controversial to a greater or lesser degree. The Italo-Celtic subgroup was at one point uncontroversial, considered by Antoine Meillet to be even better established than Balto-Slavic. The main lines of evidence included the genitive suffix ''-ī''; the superlative suffix ''-m̥mo''; the change of /p/ to /kʷ/ before another /kʷ/ in the same word (as in ''penkʷe'' > ''*kʷenkʷe'' > Latin ''quīnque'', Old Irish ''cóic''); and the subjunctive morpheme ''-ā-''. This evidence was prominently challenged by
Calvert Watkins Calvert Watkins ( /ˈwɒtkɪnz/; March 13, 1933 – March 20, 2013) was an American linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken ...
, while Michael Weiss has argued for the subgroup. Evidence for a relationship between Greek and Armenian includes the regular change of the Laryngeal theory, second laryngeal to ''a'' at the beginnings of words, as well as terms for "woman" and "sheep". Greek and Indo-Iranian share innovations mainly in verbal morphology and patterns of nominal derivation. Relations have also been proposed between Phrygian and Greek, and between Thracian and Armenian. Some fundamental shared features, like the aorist (a verb form denoting action without reference to duration or completion) having the perfect active particle -s fixed to the stem, link this group closer to Anatolian languages and Tocharian. Shared features with Balto-Slavic languages, on the other hand (especially present and preterit formations), might be due to later contacts. The Indo-Hittite hypothesis proposes that the Indo-European language family consists of two main branches: one represented by the Anatolian languages and another branch encompassing all other Indo-European languages. Features that separate Anatolian from all other branches of Indo-European (such as the gender or the verb system) have been interpreted alternately as archaic debris or as innovations due to prolonged isolation. Points proffered in favour of the Indo-Hittite hypothesis are the (non-universal) Indo-European agricultural terminology in Anatolia and the preservation of laryngeals. However, in general this hypothesis is considered to attribute too much weight to the Anatolian evidence. According to another view, the Anatolian subgroup left the Indo-European parent language comparatively late, approximately at the same time as Indo-Iranian and later than the Greek or Armenian divisions. A third view, especially prevalent in the so-called French school of Indo-European studies, holds that extant similarities in non-satem languages in general—including Anatolian—might be due to their peripheral location in the Indo-European language-area and to early separation, rather than indicating a special ancestral relationship. Hans J. Holm, based on lexical calculations, arrives at a picture roughly replicating the general scholarly opinion and refuting the Indo-Hittite hypothesis.


Satem and centum languages

The division of the Indo-European languages into satem and centum groups was put forward by Peter von Bradke in 1890, although
Karl Brugmann Karl Brugmann (16 March 1849 – 29 June 1919) was a Germany, German linguist. He is noted for his work in Indo-European linguistics. Biography He was educated at the universities of University of Halle, Halle and University of Leipzig, Leipzig. H ...

Karl Brugmann
did propose a similar type of division in 1886. In the satem languages, which include the Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian branches, as well as (in most respects) Albanian and Armenian, the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European phonology#Consonants, Proto-Indo-European palatovelars remained distinct and were fricativized, while the labiovelars merged with the 'plain velars'. In the centum languages, the palatovelars merged with the plain velars, while the labiovelars remained distinct. The results of these alternative developments are exemplified by the words for "hundred" in Avestan (''satem'') and Latin (''centum'')—the initial palatovelar developed into a fricative in the former, but became an ordinary velar in the latter. Rather than being a genealogical separation, the centum–satem division is commonly seen as resulting from innovative changes that spread across PIE dialect-branches over a particular geographical area; the centum–satem isogloss intersects a number of other isoglosses that mark distinctions between features in the early IE branches. It may be that the centum branches in fact reflect the original state of affairs in PIE, and only the satem branches shared a set of innovations, which affected all but the peripheral areas of the PIE dialect continuum. Kortlandt proposes that the ancestors of Balts and Slavs took part in satemization before being drawn later into the western Indo-European sphere.


Proposed external relations

From the very beginning of Indo-European studies, there have been attempts to link the Indo-European languages genealogically to other languages and language families. However, these theories remain highly controversial, and most specialists in Indo-European linguistics are sceptical or agnostic about such proposals. Proposals linking the Indo-European languages with a single language family include: * Indo-Uralic languages, Indo-Uralic, joining Indo-European with Uralic languages, Uralic * Pontic languages, Pontic, postulated by John Colarusso, which joins Indo-European with Northwest Caucasian languages, Northwest Caucasian Other proposed families include: * Nostratic languages, Nostratic, comprising all or some of the Eurasiatic languages and the Kartvelian languages, Kartvelian, Dravidian languages, Dravidian (or wider, Elamo-Dravidian languages, Elamo-Dravidian) and Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language families * Eurasiatic languages, Eurasiatic, a theory championed by Joseph Greenberg, comprising the Uralic languages, Uralic, Altaic languages, Altaic and various 'Paleosiberian languages, Paleosiberian' families (Ainu languages, Ainu, Yukaghir languages, Yukaghir, Nivkh languages, Nivkh, Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Eskimo–Aleut languages, Eskimo–Aleut) and possibly others Nostratic and Eurasiatic, in turn, have been included in even wider groupings, such as Borean languages, Borean, a language family separately proposed by Harold C. Fleming and Sergei Starostin that encompasses almost all of the world's natural languages with the exception of those native to sub-Saharan Africa, New Guinea, Australia, and the Andaman Islands. Objections to such groupings are not based on any theoretical claim about the likely historical existence or nonexistence of such macrofamilies; it is entirely reasonable to suppose that they might have existed. The serious difficulty lies in identifying the details of actual relationships between language families, because it is very hard to find concrete evidence that transcends chance resemblance or is not equally likely explained as being due to loanword, borrowing, including ''Wanderwort, Wanderwörter'', which can travel very long distances. Because the signal-to-noise ratio in historical linguistics declines over time, at great enough time-depths it becomes open to reasonable doubt that one can even distinguish between signal and noise.


Evolution


Proto-Indo-European

The proposed Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) is the Comparative method, reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the
Proto-Indo-Europeans The Proto-Indo-Europeans were a hypothetical prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed ...
. From the 1960s, knowledge of Anatolian became certain enough to establish its relationship to PIE. Using the method of internal reconstruction, an earlier stage, called Pre-Proto-Indo-European, has been proposed. PIE was an inflected language, in which the grammatical relationships between words were signaled through inflectional morphemes (usually endings). The root (linguistics), roots of PIE are basic morphemes carrying a lexical (semiotics), lexical meaning. By addition of suffixes, they form stem (linguistics), stems, and by addition of Ending (linguistics), endings, these form grammatically inflected words (Indo-European noun, nouns or Indo-European verb, verbs). The reconstructed Indo-European verb system is complex and, like the noun, exhibits a system of
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the Germanic strong verb, stron ...
.


Diversification

BMAC in "IE languages c. 1500 BC" is Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex The diversification of the parent language into the attested branches of daughter languages is historically unattested. The timeline of the evolution of the various daughter languages, on the other hand, is mostly undisputed, quite regardless of the question of Indo-European origins. Using a mathematical analysis borrowed from evolutionary biology, Donald Ringe and Tandy Warnow propose the following evolutionary tree of Indo-European branches: * Pre- Anatolian (before 3500 BC) * Pre-Tocharian languages, Tocharian * Pre-Italic and Pre-Celtic (before 2500 BC) * Pre-Armenian and Pre-Greek (after 2500 BC) * Proto- (2000 BC) * Pre-Germanic and Pre-Balto-Slavic; proto-Germanic c. 500 BC David Anthony proposes the following sequence: * Pre- Anatolian (4200 BC) * Pre-Tocharian languages, Tocharian (3700 BC) * Germanic parent language, Pre-Germanic (3300 BC) * Pre-Italic and Pre-Celtic (3000 BC) * Pre-Armenian (2800 BC) * Pre-Balto-Slavic (2800 BC) * Pre-Greek (2500 BC) * Proto- (2200 BC); split between Iranian and Old Indic 1800 BC From 1500 BC the following sequence may be given: * 1500–1000 BC: The Nordic Bronze Age develops pre-Proto-Germanic, and the (pre)-Proto-Celtic Urnfield and Hallstatt culture, Hallstatt cultures emerge in Central Europe, introducing the Iron Age. Migration of the Proto- speakers into the Italian peninsula (Bagnolo stele). Redaction of the Rigveda and rise of the Vedic civilization in the Punjab region, Punjab. The Mycenaean civilization gives way to the Greek Dark Ages. Hittite goes extinct. * 1000–500 BC: The Celtic languages spread over Central and Western Europe.
Baltic languages The Baltic languages belong to the Balto-Slavic languages, Balto-Slavic branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European language family. Baltic languages are spoken by the Balts, mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Se ...

Baltic languages
are spoken in a huge area from present-day Poland to the Ural Mountains. Proto Germanic. Homer and the beginning of Classical Antiquity. The Vedic Civilization gives way to the Mahajanapadas. Siddhartha Gautama preaches Buddhism. Zoroaster composes the Gathas, rise of the Achaemenid Empire, replacing the Elamites and Babylonia. Separation of Proto-Italic into Osco-Umbrian languages, Osco-Umbrian and Latin-Faliscan languages, Latin-Faliscan. Genesis of the Greek alphabet, Greek and Old Italic alphabet, Old Italic alphabets. A variety of Paleo-Balkan languages are spoken in Southern Europe. * 500 BC – 1 BC/AD: Classical Antiquity: spread of Ancient Greek, Greek and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
throughout the Mediterranean and, during the Hellenistic period (Indo-Greeks), to Central Asia and the Hindukush. Kushan Empire, Mauryan Empire. Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germanic. * 1 BC – AD 500:
Late Antiquity Late antiquity is a periodization Periodization is the process or study of categorizing the past into discrete, quantified named blocks of time.Adam Rabinowitz. It’s about time: historical periodization and Linked Ancient World Data'. Insti ...
, Gupta period; attestation of
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
.
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all the Slavic languages The Slavic languages, also known as the Slavonic languages, are Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family nati ...
. The Roman Empire and then the Migration period marginalize the Celtic languages to the British Isles. Sogdian language, Sogdian, an Eastern Iranian language, becomes the ''lingua franca'' of the Silk Road in Central Asia leading to China, due to the proliferation of Sogdian merchants there. The last of the Anatolian languages are language death, extinct. * 500–1000: Early Middle Ages. The Viking Age forms an Old Norse Koiné language, koine spanning Scandinavia, the British Isles and Iceland. The Islamic conquest and the Turkic expansion results in the Arabization and Turkification of significant areas where Indo-European languages were spoken. Tocharian languages, Tocharian is extinct in the course of the Turkic expansion while Northeastern Iranian languages, Northeastern Iranian (Scytho-Sarmatian) is reduced to small refugia. Slavic languages spread over wide areas in central, eastern and southeastern Europe, largely replacing Romance in the Balkans (with the exception of Romanian) and whatever was left of the paleo-Balkan languages with the exception of Albanian. * 1000–1500: Late Middle Ages: Attestation of
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
and
Baltic Baltic may refer to: Geography Northern Europe * Baltic Sea, a sea in Europe * Baltic region, an ambiguous term referring to the general area surrounding the Baltic Sea * Baltic states (also Baltics, Baltic nations, Baltic countries or Baltic rep ...

Baltic
. * 1500–2000: Early modern Europe, Early Modern period to present: Colonialism results in the spread of Indo-European languages to every continent, most notably Romance language, Romance (North, Central and South America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia), West Germanic languages, West Germanic (
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Australia; to a lesser extent Dutch and German), and
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
to Central Asia and North Asia.


Important languages for reconstruction

In reconstructing the history of the Indo-European languages and the form of the Proto-Indo-European language, some languages have been of particular importance. These generally include the ancient Indo-European languages that are both well-attested and documented at an early date, although some languages from later periods are important if they are particularly conservative (language), linguistically conservative (most notably,
Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
). Early poetry is of special significance because of the rigid poetic meter normally employed, which makes it possible to reconstruct a number of features (e.g. vowel length) that were either unwritten or corrupted in the process of transmission down to the earliest extant written manuscripts. Most noticeable of all: * Vedic Sanskrit (c. 1500–500 BC). This language is unique in that its source documents were all composed orally, and were passed down through oral tradition (shakha schools) for c. 2,000 years before ever being written down. The oldest documents are all in poetic form; oldest and most important of all is the Rigveda (c. 1500 BC). * Ancient Greek (c. 750–400 BC).
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of la ...
(c. 1450 BC) is the oldest recorded form, but its value is lessened by the limited material, restricted subject matter, and highly ambiguous writing system. More important is Ancient Greek, documented extensively beginning with the two Homeric poems (the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', c. 750 BC). *
Hittite Hittite may refer to: * Hittites, ancient Anatolian people ** Hittite language, the earliest-attested Indo-European language ** Hittite grammar ** Hittite phonology ** Hittite cuneiform ** Hittite inscriptions ** Hittite laws ** Hittite religion ** ...
(c. 1700–1200 BC). This is the earliest-recorded of all Indo-European languages, and highly divergent from the others due to the early separation of the
Anatolian languages The Anatolian languages are an extinct branch of Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the nort ...
from the remainder. It possesses some highly archaic features found only fragmentarily, if at all, in other languages. At the same time, however, it appears to have undergone many early phonological and grammatical changes which, combined with the ambiguities of its writing system, hinder its usefulness somewhat. Other primary sources: *
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
, attested in a huge amount of poetic and prose material in the Classical Latin, Classical period (c. 200 BC – 100 AD) and limited Old Latin, older material from as early as c. 600 BC. *
Gothic Gothic or Gothics may refer to: People and languages *Goths or Gothic people, the ethnonym of a group of East Germanic tribes **Gothic language, an extinct East Germanic language spoken by the Goths **Crimean Gothic, the Gothic language spoken by ...
(the most archaic well-documented Germanic language, c. 350 AD), along with the combined witness of the other old Germanic languages: most importantly, Old English (c. 800–1000 AD), Old High German (c. 750–1000 AD) and Old Norse (c. 1100–1300 AD, with limited earlier sources dating all the way back to c. 200 AD). * Old Avestan (c. 1700–1200 BC) and Avestan language, Younger Avestan (c. 900 BC). Documentation is sparse, but nonetheless quite important due to its highly archaic nature. * Modern
Lithuanian Lithuanian may refer to: * Lithuanians Lithuanians ( lt, lietuviai, singular ''lietuvis/lietuvė'') are a Balts, Baltic ethnic group. They are native to Lithuania, where they number around 2,561,300 people. Another million or more make up the Lith ...
, with limited records in Old Lithuanian (c. 1500–1700 AD). *
Old Church Slavonic Old Church Slavonic or Old Slavonic (, ) was the first Slavic literary language. Historians credit the 9th-century Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius with standardizing the language and using it in translating the Bible ...
(c. 900–1000 AD). Other secondary sources, of lesser value due to poor attestation: *
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian languages, ...
, Lycian language, Lycian, Lydian language, Lydian and other
Anatolian languages The Anatolian languages are an extinct branch of Indo-European languages The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of the languages of Europe together with those of the nort ...
(c. 1400–400 BC). * Oscan, Umbrian and other Italic languages, Old Italic languages (c. 600–200 BC). * Old Persian (c. 500 BC). * Old Prussian (c. 1350–1600 AD); even more archaic than Lithuanian. Other secondary sources, of lesser value due to extensive phonological changes and relatively limited attestation: * Old Irish (c. 700–850 AD). * Tocharian language, Tocharian (c. 500–800 AD), underwent large phonetic shifts and mergers in the proto-language, and has an almost entirely reworked declension system. * Classical Armenian (c. 400–1000 AD). *
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
(c. 1450–current time).


Sound changes

As the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language broke up, its sound system diverged as well, changing according to various sound laws evidenced in the daughter languages. PIE is normally reconstructed with a complex system of 15 stop consonants, including an unusual three-way phonation (voice (phonetics), voicing) distinction between voicelessness, voiceless, voice (phonetics), voiced and "voiced aspirated" (i.e. breathy voiced) stops, and a three-way distinction among velar consonants (''k''-type sounds) between "palatal" ''ḱ ǵ ǵh'', "plain velar" ''k g gh'' and Labialized velar consonant, labiovelar ''kʷ gʷ gʷh''. (The correctness of the terms ''palatal'' and ''plain velar'' is disputed; see Proto-Indo-European phonology.) All daughter languages have reduced the number of distinctions among these sounds, often in divergent ways. As an example, in
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
, one of the Germanic languages, the following are some of the major changes that happened: None of the daughter-language families (except possibly Anatolian, particularly Luvian language, Luvian) reflect the plain velar stops differently from the other two series, and there is even a certain amount of dispute whether this series existed at all in PIE. The major distinction between Centum-satem isogloss, ''centum'' and ''satem'' languages corresponds to the outcome of the PIE plain velars: * The "central" ''satem'' languages (,
Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other ...
,
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
, and
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
) reflect both "plain velar" and labiovelar stops as plain velars, often with secondary Palatalization (sound change), palatalization before a front vowel (''e i ē ī''). The "palatal" stops are palatalized and often appear as sibilants (usually but not always distinct from the secondarily palatalized stops). * The "peripheral" ''centum'' languages (
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
, ,
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
, Anatolian and Tocharian language, Tocharian) reflect both "palatal" and "plain velar" stops as plain velars, while the labiovelars continue unchanged, often with later reduction into plain labial consonant, labial or velar consonants. The three-way PIE distinction between voiceless, voiced and voiced aspirated stops is considered extremely unusual from the perspective of linguistic typology—particularly in the existence of voiced aspirated stops without a corresponding series of voiceless aspirated stops. None of the various daughter-language families continue it unchanged, with numerous "solutions" to the apparently unstable PIE situation: * The Indo-Aryan languages preserve the three series unchanged but have evolved a fourth series of voiceless aspirated consonants. * The Iranian languages probably passed through the same stage, subsequently changing the aspirated stops into fricatives. *
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
converted the voiced aspirates into voiceless aspirates. * probably passed through the same stage, but reflects the voiced aspirates as voiceless fricatives, especially ''f'' (or sometimes plain voiced stops in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...

Latin
). *
Celtic The words Celt and Celtic (also Keltic) may refer to: Ethno-linguistics *Celts The Celts (, see pronunciation of ''Celt'' for different usages) are. "CELTS location: Greater Europe time period: Second millennium B.C.E. to present ancestry: ...
,
Balto-Slavic The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic languages, Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other ...
, Anatolian, and
Albanian Albanian may refer to: *Pertaining to Albania in Southeast Europe; in particular: **Albanians, an ethnic group native to the Balkans **Albanian language **Albanian culture **Demographics of Albania, includes other ethnic groups within the country ...
merge the voiced aspirated into plain voiced stops. *
Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic language, a reconstructed proto-language of ...

Germanic
and
Armenian Armenian may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Armenia, a country in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia * Armenians, the national people of Armenia, or people of Armenian descent ** Armenian language, the Indo-European language spoken ...
change all three series in a chain shift (e.g. with ''bh b p'' becoming ''b p f'' (known as ''Grimm's law'' in Germanic). Among the other notable changes affecting consonants are: * The Ruki sound law (''s'' becomes before ''r, u, k, i'') in the ''satem'' languages. * Loss of prevocalic ''p'' in Proto-Celtic. * Development of prevocalic ''s'' to ''h'' in Proto-Greek, with later loss of ''h'' between vowels. * Verner's law in Proto-Germanic. * Grassmann's law (dissimilation of aspirates) independently in Proto-Greek and Proto-Indo-Iranian. The following table shows the basic outcomes of PIE consonants in some of the most important daughter languages for the purposes of reconstruction. For a fuller table, see Indo-European sound laws. :Notes: * C- At the beginning of a word. * -C- Between vowels. * -C At the end of a word. * `-C- Following an unstressed vowel (Verner's law). * -C-(rl) Between vowels, or between a vowel and (on either side). * CT Before a (PIE) stop (). * CT− After a (PIE) obstruent (, etc.; ). * C(T) Before or after an obstruent (, etc.; ). * CH Before an original laryngeal. * CE Before a (PIE) front vowel (). * CE' Before secondary (post-PIE) front-vowels. * Ce Before . * C(u) Before or after a (PIE) (boukólos rule). * C(O) Before or after a (PIE) (boukólos rule). * Cn− After . * CR Before a sonorant (). * C(R) Before or after a sonorant (). * C(r),l,u− Before or after . * Cruki− After (Ruki sound law). * C..Ch Before an aspirated consonant in the next syllable (Grassmann's law, also known as dissimilation of aspirates). * CE..Ch Before a (PIE) front vowel () as well as before an aspirated consonant in the next syllable (Grassmann's law, also known as dissimilation of aspirates). * C(u)..Ch Before or after a (PIE) as well as before an aspirated consonant in the next syllable (Grassmann's law, also known as dissimilation of aspirates).


Comparison of conjugations

The following table presents a comparison of conjugations of the vowel stems, thematic present tense, present indicative of the verbal root * of the English verb ''wikt:bear, to bear'' and its reflexes in various early attested IE languages and their modern descendants or relatives, showing that all languages had in the early stage an inflectional verb system. While similarities are still visible between the modern descendants and relatives of these ancient languages, the differences have increased over time. Some IE languages have moved from synthetic language, synthetic verb systems to largely periphrasis, periphrastic systems. In addition, the pronouns of periphrastic forms are in parentheses when they appear. Some of these verbs have undergone a change in meaning as well. * In Irish language, Modern Irish ''beir'' usually only carries the meaning ''to bear'' in the sense of bearing a child; its common meanings are ''to catch, grab''. Apart from the first person, the forms given in the table above are dialectical or obsolete. The second and third person forms are typically instead conjugated periphrasis, periphrastically by adding a pronoun after the verb: ''beireann tú, beireann sé/sí, beireann sibh, beireann siad''. * The Hindustani grammar, Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu) verb ''bʰarnā'', the continuation of the Sanskrit verb, can have a variety of meanings, but the most common is "to fill". The forms given in the table, although etymologically derived from the present indicative, now have the meaning of Subjunctive mood, future subjunctive. The loss of the present indicative in Hindustani is roughly compensated by the periphrastic Habitual aspect, habitual indicative construction, using the Habitual aspect, habitual participle (etymologically from the Sanskrit present participle ''bʰarant-'') and an auxiliary: ''ma͠i bʰartā hū̃, tū bʰartā hai, vah bʰartā hai, ham bʰarte ha͠i, tum bʰarte ho, ve bʰarte ha͠i'' (masculine forms). * German is not directly descended from Gothic, but the Gothic forms are a close approximation of what the early West Germanic forms of c. 400 AD would have looked like. The cognate of Germanic ''beranan'' (English ''bear'') survives in German only in the compound ''gebären'', meaning "bear (a child)". * The Latin verb ''ferre'' is irregular, and not a good representative of a normal thematic verb. In most Romance languages such as Portuguese, other verbs now mean "to carry" (e.g. Pt. ''portar'' < Lat. ''portare'') and ''ferre'' was borrowed and nativized only in compounds such as "to suffer" (from Latin ''sub-'' and ''ferre'') and "to confer" (from Latin "con-" and "ferre"). * In Modern
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
, ''phero'' φέρω (modern transliteration ''fero'') "to bear" is still used but only in specific contexts and is most common in such compounds as αναφέρω, διαφέρω, εισφέρω, εκφέρω, καταφέρω, προφέρω, προαναφέρω, προσφέρω etc. The form that is (very) common today is ''pherno'' φέρνω (modern transliteration ''ferno'') meaning "to bring". Additionally, the perfective form of ''pherno'' (used for the subjunctive voice and also for the future tense) is also ''phero''. * The dual forms are archaic in standard Lithuanian, and are only presently used in some dialects (e.g. Samogitian dialect, Samogitian). * Among modern Slavic languages, only Slovene continues to have a dual number in the standard variety.


Comparison of cognates


Present distribution

Today, Indo-European languages are spoken by billions of Native speaker#Defining "native speaker", native speakers across all inhabited continents, the largest number by far for any recognised language family. Of the List of languages by total number of speakers, 20 languages with the largest numbers of speakers according to ''Ethnologue'', 10 are Indo-European:
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
,
Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of Eastern Hindi spoken in Fiji, and i ...
,
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_an ...

Spanish
,
Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they speak ** Bengali alphabet, the wr ...
,
French French (french: français(e), link=no) may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a country primarily located in Western Europe, consistin ...

French
,
Russian Russian refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (русские, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (россияне), Russian language term ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal Portugal (), officially the Portuguese Republic ( pt, República Portuguesa, links=no ), is a country located on the Iberian Peninsula, in Souther ...

Portuguese
,
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
and
Punjabi Panjābī (pʌnˈdʒɑːbi) (ਪੰਜਾਬੀ) (پنجابی) Punjabi or Panjabi most often refers to: * Something of, from, or related to Punjab Punjab ( Gurmukhi: ; Shahmukhi: ; , ; , ; ; also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb) is a ge ...
, each with 100 million speakers or more. Additionally, hundreds of millions of persons worldwide study Indo-European languages as secondary or tertiary languages, including in cultures which have completely different language families and historical backgrounds—there are between 600 million and one billion L2 learners of English alone. The success of the language family, including the large number of speakers and the vast portions of the Earth that they inhabit, is due to several factors. The ancient Indo-European migrations and widespread dissemination of Indo-European culture throughout
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, t ...

Eurasia
, including that of the
Proto-Indo-Europeans The Proto-Indo-Europeans were a hypothetical prehistoric Prehistory, also known as pre-literary history, is the period of human history Human history, also known as world history, is the description of humanity's past. It is informed ...
themselves, and that of their daughter cultures including the Indo-Aryan migration theory, Indo-Aryans, Iranian peoples, Celts, Hellenistic period, Greeks, Roman Empire, Romans, Germanic peoples, and Slavs, led to these peoples' branches of the language family already taking a dominant foothold in virtually all of
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continental area on Earth, comprising all of Europe and Asia. Primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Eastern Hemispheres, it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, the Pacific Ocean to the east, t ...

Eurasia
except for swathes of the Near East, North Asia, North and East Asia, replacing many (but not all) of the previously-spoken pre-Indo-European languages of this extensive area. However Semitic languages remain dominant in much of the Middle East and North Africa, and Languages of the Caucasus, Caucasian languages in much of the Caucasus region. Similarly in Europe and the Urals the Uralic languages (such as Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian etc) remain, as does Basque language, Basque, a pre-Indo-European isolate. Despite being unaware of their common linguistic origin, diverse groups of Indo-European speakers continued to culturally dominate and often replace the indigenous languages of the western two-thirds of Eurasia. By the beginning of the Common Era, Indo-European peoples controlled almost the entirety of this area: the Celts western and central Europe, the Romans southern Europe, the Germanic peoples northern Europe, the Slavs eastern Europe, the Iranian peoples most of western and central Asia and parts of eastern Europe, and the Indo-Aryan peoples in the Indian subcontinent, with the Tocharians inhabiting the Indo-European frontier in western China. By the medieval period, only the
Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malta. Semitic may also refer to: Religions * Abrahamic religions ** ...

Semitic
, Dravidian languages, Dravidian, Languages of the Caucasus, Caucasian, and Uralic languages, and the language isolate Basque language, Basque remained of the (relatively) Paleo-European languages, indigenous languages of Europe and the western half of Asia. Despite medieval invasions by Eurasian nomads, a group to which the Proto-Indo-Europeans had once belonged, Indo-European expansion reached another peak in the early modern period with the dramatic increase in the population of the Indian subcontinent and European expansionism throughout the globe during the Age of Discovery, as well as the continued replacement and assimilation of surrounding non-Indo-European languages and peoples due to increased state centralization and nationalism. These trends compounded throughout the modern period due to the general global population growth and the results of European colonization of the Western Hemisphere and Oceania, leading to an explosion in the number of Indo-European speakers as well as the territories inhabited by them. Due to colonization and the modern dominance of Indo-European languages in the fields of politics, global science, technology, education, finance, and sports, even many modern countries whose populations largely speak non-Indo-European languages have Indo-European languages as official languages, and the majority of the global population speaks at least one Indo-European language. The overwhelming majority of languages used on the Internet are Indo-European, with
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
continuing to lead the group; English in general has in many respects English as a lingua franca, become the ''lingua franca'' of global communication.


See also

* Grammatical conjugation * ''The Horse, the Wheel, and Language'' (book) * Indo-European copula * Indo-European sound laws *
Indo-European studies Indo-European studies is a field of linguistics and an interdisciplinary field of study dealing with Indo-European languages, both current and extinct. The goal of those engaged in these studies is to amass information about the hypothetical prot ...
* Indo-Semitic languages * Indo-Uralic languages * Eurasiatic languages * Language family * Languages of Asia * Languages of Europe * Languages of India * List of Indo-European languages * Proto-Indo-European root * Proto-Indo-European religion


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * Antoine Meillet, Meillet, Antoine. ''Esquisse d'une grammaire comparée de l'arménien classique'', 1903. * * August Schleicher, Schleicher, August, ''A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European Languages'' (1861/62). * * * * Remys, Edmund, "General distinguishing features of various Indo-European languages and their relationship to Lithuanian". ''Indogermanische Forschungen'' ISSN 0019-7262, Vol. 112, 2007. * Pierre Chantraine, Chantraine, Pierre (1968),
Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque
'' Paris: Klincksieck. * * *


External links


Databases

* * * * . * *

an online collection of introductory videos to Ancient Indo-European languages produced by the University of Göttingen


Lexica

* * * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Indo-European Languages Indo-European languages, Indo-European, Languages Language families