Indo-European languages
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The Indo-European languages are a
language family A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ''ancestral language'' or ''parental language'', called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree model of language origination in h ...
native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the
Iranian plateau The Iranian plateau or Persian plateau is a geological feature in Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. It comprises part of the Eurasian Plate and is wedged between the Arabian Plate and the Indian Plate; situated between the Zagros ...
, and the northern
Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian O ...
. Some European languages of this family, English, French,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portu ...
,
Russian Russian(s) refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and peo ...
,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () Dutch may also refer to: Places * Dutch, West Virginia, a community in the United States * Pennsylvania Dutch Country People E ...
, and
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Can ...
, have expanded through colonialism 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,
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 Diaspora, Armenian communities across the ...
, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, and Italic; and another nine subdivisions that are now extinct. Today, the individual Indo-European languages with the most native speakers are English,
Hindi–Urdu Hindustani (; Devanagari: , * * * * ; Perso-Arabic: , , ) is the ''lingua franca'' of Northern and Central India and Pakistan. Hindustani is a pluricentric language with two standard registers, known as Hindi and Urdu. Thus, the langua ...
, Spanish, Bengali, French, Russian, Portuguese, German, and Punjabi, each with over 100 million native speakers; many others are small and in danger of extinction. In total, 46% of the world's population (3.2 billion people) 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 an estimate by '' Ethnologue'', with over two-thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch. All Indo-European languages are descended from a single prehistoric language, linguistically reconstructed as Proto-Indo-European, spoken sometime in the Neolithic to
Early Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second prin ...
. The geographical location where it was spoken, the Proto-Indo-European homeland, has been the object of many competing hypotheses; the academic consensus supports the Kurgan hypothesis, which posits the homeland to be the Pontic–Caspian steppe in what is now
Ukraine Ukraine ( uk, Україна, Ukraïna, ) is a country in Eastern Europe. It is the second-largest European country after Russia, which it borders to the east and northeast. Ukraine covers approximately . Prior to the ongoing Russian inv ...
and southern Russia, associated with the
Yamnaya culture The Yamnaya culture or the Yamna culture (russian: Ямная культура, ua, Ямна культура lit. 'culture of pits'), also known as the Pit Grave culture or Ochre Grave culture, was a late Copper Age to early Bronze Age archa ...
and other related archaeological cultures during the 4th millennium BC to early 3rd millennium BC. By the time the first written records appeared, Indo-European had already evolved into numerous languages spoken across much of
Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entirel ...
,
South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia, which is defined in both geographical Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia''. Combination of Greek words ‘Geo’ (The Earth) and ‘Graphien’ (to describe), literally "earth descr ...
, and part of Western Asia. Written evidence of Indo-European appeared during the Bronze Age in the form of Mycenaean Greek and the Anatolian languages of Hittite and
Luwian The Luwians were a group of Anatolian peoples who lived in central, western, and southern Anatolia, in present-day Turkey, during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian sub-fam ...
. The oldest records are isolated Hittite words and names — interspersed in texts that are otherwise in the unrelated Akkadian language, a Semitic language — found in texts of the Assyrian colony of
Kültepe Kültepe ( Turkish: ''ash-hill''), also known as Kanesh or Nesha, is an archaeological site in Kayseri Province, Turkey, inhabited from the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC, in the Early Bronze Age.Kloekhorst, Alwin, (2019)Kanišite Hittite: ...
in eastern
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 constitutes the major part of modern-day Turkey. The ...
dating to the 20th century BC. Although no older written records of the original Proto-Indo-European population remain, some aspects of their culture and their religion can be reconstructed from later evidence in the daughter cultures. The Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as it possesses the second-longest recorded history of any known family, after the
Afroasiatic family The Afroasiatic languages (or Afro-Asiatic), also known as Hamito-Semitic, or Semito-Hamitic, and sometimes also as Afrasian, Erythraean or Lisramic, are a language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the geographic su ...
in the form of the pre-Arab Egyptian language 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.


History of Indo-European linguistics

During the 16th century, European visitors to the
Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian O ...
began to notice similarities among Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and European languages. In 1583, English Jesuit missionary and Konkani scholar Thomas Stephens wrote a letter from Goa to his brother (not published until the 20th century) in which he noted similarities between Indian languages and
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
. Another account was made by Filippo Sassetti, a merchant born in Florence in 1540, who travelled to the Indian subcontinent. Writing in 1585, he noted some word similarities between
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had diffused there from the northwest in the late ...
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 may also refer to: Places * Dutch, West Virginia, a community in the United States * Pennsylvania Dutch Country People E ...
linguist and scholar Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn noted the similarity among certain Asian and European languages and theorized that they were derived from a primitive common language which he called Scythian. He included in his hypothesis
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () Dutch may also refer to: Places * Dutch, West Virginia, a community in the United States * Pennsylvania Dutch Country People E ...
, Albanian,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
, and German, later adding Slavic, Celtic, and Baltic languages. However, Van Boxhorn's suggestions did not become widely known and did not stimulate further research. Ottoman Turkish traveler
Evliya Çelebi Derviş Mehmed Zillî (25 March 1611 – 1682), known as Evliya Çelebi ( ota, اوليا چلبى), was an Ottoman explorer who travelled through the territory of the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands over a period of forty years, recording ...
visited Vienna in 1665–1666 as part of a diplomatic mission and noted a few similarities between words in German and in Persian. Gaston Coeurdoux and others made observations of the same type. Coeurdoux made a thorough comparison of Sanskrit, Latin and Greek conjugations in the late 1760s to suggest a relationship among them. Meanwhile, Mikhail Lomonosov compared different language groups, including Slavic, Baltic (" Kurlandic"), Iranian ("
Medic 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 postgra ...
"),
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Culture of Finland * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also ...
, Chinese, "Hottentot" (
Khoekhoe Khoekhoen (singular Khoekhoe) (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. ...
), 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 branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, and
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; nominally , , ) is a classical language belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had diffused there from the northwest in the late ...
, to which he tentatively added Gothic, Celtic, and
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
, 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 in 1786, conjecturing the existence of an earlier ancestor language, which he called "a common source" but did not name: Thomas Young first used the term ''Indo-European'' in 1813, deriving it from the geographical extremes of the language family: from Western Europe to 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 Dano-French geographer and journalist. His second son, Victor Adolphe Malte-Brun, was also a geographer. Today he ...
; 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 Mai ...
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 as an academic discipline. The classical phase of Indo-European comparative linguistics leads from this work to
August Schleicher August Schleicher (; 19 February 1821 – 6 December 1868) was a German linguist. His great work was ''A Compendium of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European Languages'' in which he attempted to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-European languag ...
's 1861 ''Compendium'' and up to
Karl Brugmann Karl Brugmann (16 March 1849 – 29 June 1919) was a German linguist. He is noted for his work in Indo-European linguistics. Biography He was educated at the universities of Halle and Leipzig. He taught at the gymnasium at Wiesbaden and at Lei ...
's '' Grundriss'', published in the 1880s. Brugmann's neogrammarian reevaluation of the field and Ferdinand de Saussure's development of the
laryngeal theory The laryngeal theory is a theory in the historical linguistics of the Indo-European languages positing that: * The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) had a series of phonemes beyond those reconstructable by the comparative method. That is, th ...
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 and philologist, known for his book '' How to Kill a Dragon''. He was a professor of linguistics and the classics at Harvard University and after retirem ...
, Jochem Schindler, 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-Euro ...
) developed a better understanding of morphology and of
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from German '' Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony (regular vowel variations) in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the strong verb ''sing, sang, sung'' and its ...
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 theory in the historical linguistics of the Indo-European languages positing that: * The Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) had a series of phonemes beyond those reconstructable by the comparative method. That is, th ...
, 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, 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 ...
evolved from an ancient Paleo-Balkan language, traditionally thought to be Illyrian, or otherwise a totally unattested Balkan Indo-European language that was closely related to Illyrian and Messapic. * Anatolian, extinct by Late Antiquity, 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 constitutes the major part of modern-day Turkey. The ...
, 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, during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian sub-fam ...
/ Hittite mentioned in Semitic Old Assyrian texts from the 20th and 19th centuries BC,
Hittite texts The corpus of texts written in the Hittite language is indexed by the ''Catalogue des Textes Hittites'' (CTH, since 1971). The catalogue is only a classification of texts; it does not give the texts. One traditionally cites texts by their numbers in ...
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 Diaspora, Armenian communities across the ...
, attested from the early 5th century AD. * Balto-Slavic, believed by most Indo-Europeanists to form a phylogenetic unit, while a minority ascribes similarities to prolonged language-contact. ** Slavic (from
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic (abbreviated PSl., PS.; also called Common Slavic or Common Slavonic) is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all Slavic languages. It represents Slavic speech approximately from the 2nd millennium B.C. through the 6th ...
), attested from the 9th century AD ( possibly earlier), earliest texts in Old Church Slavonic. Slavic languages include Bulgarian,
Russian Russian(s) refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and peo ...
, Polish,
Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic, a country in Europe ** Czech language ** Czechs, the people of the area ** Czech culture ** Czech cuisine * One of three mythical brothers, Lech, Czech, and Rus' Places * Czech, ...
, Slovak, Silesian, Kashubian, Macedonian, Serbo-Croatian ( Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin, Serbian), Sorbian, Slovenian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Rusyn. ** Baltic, attested from the 14th century AD; although attested relatively recently, they retain many archaic features attributed to Proto-Indo-European (PIE). Living examples are Lithuanian and Latvian. * Celtic (from Proto-Celtic), attested since the 6th century BC; Lepontic inscriptions date as early as the 6th century BC; Celtiberian from the 2nd century BC; Primitive Irish
Ogham inscription 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. Their language is predominantly Primitive Irish, but a few examples record fragments of the ...
s from the 4th or 5th century AD, earliest inscriptions in Old Welsh from the 7th century AD. Modern Celtic languages include Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Scottish Gaelic,
Irish Irish may refer to: Common meanings * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ***Éire, Irish language name for the isle ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit ...
and Manx. * Germanic (from Proto-Germanic), earliest attestations in
runic Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets native to the Germanic peoples. Runes were used to write various Germanic languages (with some exceptions) before they adopted the Latin alphabet, and for specialised ...
inscriptions from around the 2nd century AD, earliest coherent texts in Gothic, 4th century AD.
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th c ...
manuscript tradition from about the 8th century AD. Includes English, Frisian, German,
Dutch Dutch commonly refers to: * Something of, from, or related to the Netherlands * Dutch people () * Dutch language () Dutch may also refer to: Places * Dutch, West Virginia, a community in the United States * Pennsylvania Dutch Country People E ...
, Scots, Danish,
Swedish Swedish or ' may refer to: Anything from or related to Sweden, a country in Northern Europe. Or, specifically: * Swedish language, a North Germanic language spoken primarily in Sweden and Finland ** Swedish alphabet, the official alphabet used by ...
,
Norwegian Norwegian, Norwayan, or Norsk may refer to: *Something of, from, or related to Norway, a country in northwestern Europe * Norwegians, both a nation and an ethnic group native to Norway * Demographics of Norway *The Norwegian language, including ...
, Afrikaans, Yiddish, Low German, Icelandic, Elfdalian, and Faroese. * Hellenic (from
Proto-Greek The Proto-Greek language (also known as Proto-Hellenic) is the Indo-European language which was the last common ancestor of all varieties of Greek, including Mycenaean Greek, the subsequent ancient Greek dialects (i.e., Attic, Ionic, Aeo ...
, see also
History of Greek Greek is an Indo-European language, the sole surviving descendant of the Hellenic sub-family. Although it split off from other Indo-European languages before 2000 BC, it is first attested in the Bronze Age as ''Mycenaean Greek''. During the Ar ...
); fragmentary records in Mycenaean
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
from between 1450 and 1350 BC have been found. Homeric texts date to the 8th century BC. * Indo-Iranian, attested circa 1400 BC, descended from Proto-Indo-Iranian (dated to the late 3rd millennium BC). ** Indo-Aryan, attested from around 1400 BC in Hittite 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 constitutes the major part of modern-day Turkey. The ...
, showing 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 via oral tradition dating from about the mid- second millennium BC in the form of
Vedic Sanskrit Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European language family. It is attested in the Vedas and related literature compiled over the period of the mid- 2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preser ...
. Includes a wide range of modern languages from Northern India, Eastern Pakistan and Bangladesh, including Hindustani (
Hindi Hindi ( Devanāgarī: or , ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in the Hindi Belt region encompassing parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India. Hindi has been ...
, Urdu), Bengali, Odia, Assamese, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Gujarati, Marathi, Sindhi and Nepali, as well as Sinhala of Sri Lanka and Dhivehi of the Maldives and Minicoy. ** Iranian or Iranic, attested from roughly 1000 BC in the form of 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, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
, Pashto,
Kurdish Kurdish may refer to: *Kurds or Kurdish people *Kurdish languages *Kurdish alphabets *Kurdistan, the land of the Kurdish people which includes: **Southern Kurdistan **Eastern Kurdistan **Northern Kurdistan **Western Kurdistan See also * Kurd (dis ...
Balochi, Luri, and Ossetian. ** Nuristani (includes Kamkata-vari, Vasi-vari, Askunu, Waigali,
Tregami Tregami (Trigami), or ''Katar Gambiri'', is a language spoken in the villages of Gambir, Kaṭâr, and Devoz in the Tregâm Valley off the lower Pech River in the Watapur District of Kunar Province in Afghanistan. The area is in the Hindu Kush ...
, and Zemiaki). * Italic (from
Proto-Italic The Proto-Italic language is the ancestor of the Italic languages, most notably Latin and its descendants, the Romance languages. It is not directly attested in writing, but has been reconstructed to some degree through the comparative method. P ...
), attested from the 7th century BC. Includes the ancient
Osco-Umbrian languages The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are an extinct group of Italic languages, the Indo-European languages that were spoken in Central and Southern Italy by the Osco-Umbrians before being replaced by Latin, as the power of Ancient Rom ...
, Faliscan, as well as
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
and its descendants, the
Romance languages The Romance languages, sometimes referred to as Latin languages or Neo-Latin languages, are the various modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin. They are the only extant subgroup of the Italic languages in the Indo-European language ...
, such as
Italian Italian(s) may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the people of Italy over the centuries ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic or Italian Kingdom ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Ita ...
, Venetian, Galician, Sardinian, Neapolitan, Sicilian,
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Can ...
,
Asturleonese Asturleonese ( ast, Asturlleonés; es, Asturleonés; pt, Asturo-leonês; mwl, Asturlhionés) is a Romance language spoken primarily in northwestern Spain, namely in the historical regions and Spain's modern-day autonomous communities of Asturi ...
, French, Romansh, Occitan,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portu ...
, Romanian, and Catalan. * Tocharian, with proposed links to the
Afanasevo culture The Afanasievo culture, or Afanasevo culture (Afanasevan culture) (russian: Афанасьевская культура ''Afanas'yevskaya'' kul'tura), is the earliest known archaeological culture of south Siberia, occupying the Minusinsk Basin a ...
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 Old Turkic (also East Old Turkic, Orkhon Turkic language, Old Uyghur) is the earliest attested form of the Turkic languages, found in Göktürk and Uyghur Khaganate inscriptions dating from about the eighth to the 13th century. It is the old ...
Uyghur Khaganate The Uyghur Khaganate (also Uyghur Empire or Uighur Khaganate, self defined as Toquz-Oghuz country; otk, 𐱃𐰆𐰴𐰕:𐰆𐰍𐰕:𐰉𐰆𐰑𐰣, Toquz Oγuz budun, Tang-era names, with modern Hanyu Pinyin: or ) was a Turkic empire that e ...
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: hypothetical language associated with the proposed
Nordwestblock The Nordwestblock (German, "Northwest Block") is a hypothetical Northwestern European cultural region that some scholars propose as a prehistoric culture in the present-day Netherlands, Belgium, northern France, and northwestern Germany, in an a ...
cultural area. Speculated to be connected to Italic or Venetic, and to have certain phonological features in common with Lusitanian. *
Cimmerian The Cimmerians (Akkadian: , romanized: ; Hebrew: , romanized: ; Ancient Greek: , romanized: ; Latin: ) were an ancient Eastern Iranian equestrian nomadic people originating in the Caspian steppe, part of whom subsequently migrated into Wes ...
: possibly Iranic, Thracian, or Celtic * Dacian: possibly very close to Thracian * 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 widely accepted, possibly related to Italic or Anatolian.] * Illyrian: possibly related to Albanian, Messapian, or both * Liburnian language, Liburnian: evidence too scant and uncertain to determine anything with certainty * Ligurian: possibly close to or part of Celtic. * Lusitanian: possibly related to (or part of) Celtic, Ligurian, or Italic * Ancient Macedonian: proposed relationship to Greek. * Messapian: not conclusively deciphered * Paionian: extinct language once spoken north of Macedon * Phrygian: language of the ancient Phrygians. Very likely, but not certainly, a sister group to Hellenic. *
Sicel The Sicels (; la, Siculi; grc, Σικελοί ''Sikeloi'') were an Italic tribe who inhabited eastern Sicily during the Iron Age. Their neighbours to the west were the Sicani. The Sicels gave Sicily the name it has held since antiquity, b ...
: 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: proposed, pre-Celtic, Iberian language * Thracian: possibly including Dacian * 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 genealogical relationships, meaning that all members are presumed descendants of a common ancestor, Proto-Indo-European. 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, 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 In historical linguistics, the tree model (also Stammbaum, genetic, or cladistic model) is a model of the evolution of languages analogous to the concept of a family tree, particularly a phylogenetic tree in the biological evolution of species. ...
" 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" 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 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 '' Ringe-
Warnow The Warnow () is a river in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. It flows into the Baltic Sea near the town of Rostock, in its borough Warnemünde. The source of the Warnow is in Grebbin, a small village north of Parchim, at the wes ...
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 In historical linguistics, Italo-Celtic is a hypothetical grouping of the Italic and Celtic branches of the Indo-European language family on the basis of features shared by these two branches and no others. There is controversy about the causes o ...
, Graeco-Armenian,
Graeco-Aryan Graeco-Aryan, or Graeco-Armeno-Aryan, is a hypothetical clade within the Indo-European family that would be the ancestor of Greek, Armenian, and the Indo-Iranian languages. The Graeco-Armeno-Aryan group supposedly branched off from the parent ...
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 and philologist, known for his book '' How to Kill a Dragon''. He was a professor of linguistics and the classics at Harvard University and after retirem ...
, while Michael Weiss has argued for the subgroup. Evidence for a relationship between Greek and Armenian includes the regular change of the 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 of the Indo-European family are classified as either centum languages or satem languages according to how the dorsal consonants (sounds of "K", "G" and "Y" type) of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) developed. An ...
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 German linguist. He is noted for his work in Indo-European linguistics. Biography He was educated at the universities of Halle and Leipzig. He taught at the gymnasium at Wiesbaden and at Lei ...
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 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, joining Indo-European with Uralic *
Pontic Pontic, from the Greek ''pontos'' (, ), or "sea", may refer to: The Black Sea Places * The Pontic colonies, on its northern shores * Pontus (region), a region on its southern shores * The Pontic–Caspian steppe, steppelands stretching from no ...
, postulated by
John Colarusso John Colarusso is a linguist specializing in Caucasian languages. Since 1976, he has taught at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Colarusso has published more than sixty-five articles on linguistics, myths, politics, and the Caucasus; he h ...
, which joins Indo-European with Northwest Caucasian Other proposed families include: *
Nostratic Nostratic is a controversial hypothetical macrofamily, which includes many of the indigenous language families of Eurasia, although its exact composition and structure vary among proponents. It typically comprises Kartvelian, Indo-European and U ...
, comprising all or some of the Eurasiatic languages and the Kartvelian, Dravidian (or wider, Elamo-Dravidian) and
Afroasiatic The Afroasiatic languages (or Afro-Asiatic), also known as Hamito-Semitic, or Semito-Hamitic, and sometimes also as Afrasian, Erythraean or Lisramic, are a language family of about 300 languages that are spoken predominantly in the geographic su ...
language families *
Eurasiatic Eurasiatic is a proposed language macrofamily that would include many language families historically spoken in northern, western, and southern Eurasia. The idea of a Eurasiatic superfamily dates back more than 100 years. Joseph Greenberg's prop ...
, a theory championed by Joseph Greenberg, comprising the Uralic,
Altaic Altaic (; also called Transeurasian) is a controversial proposed language family that would include the Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic language families and possibly also the Japonic and Koreanic languages. Speakers of these languages are ...
and various ' Paleosiberian' families ( Ainu,
Yukaghir The Yukaghirs, or Yukagirs ( (), russian: юкаги́ры) are a Siberian ethnic group people in the Russian Far East, living in the basin of the Kolyma River. Geographic distribution The Tundra Yukaghirs live in the Lower Kolyma region ...
, Nivkh,
Chukotko-Kamchatkan The Chukotko-Kamchatkan or Chukchi–Kamchatkan languages are a language family of extreme northeastern Siberia. Its speakers traditionally were indigenous hunter-gatherers and reindeer-herders. Chukotko-Kamchatkan is endangered. The Kamchatkan ...
,
Eskimo–Aleut The Eskaleut (), Eskimo–Aleut or Inuit–Yupik–Unangan languages are a language family native to the northern portions of the North American continent and a small part of northeastern Asia. Languages in the family are indigenous to parts of w ...
) and possibly others Nostratic and Eurasiatic, in turn, have been included in even wider groupings, such as Borean, a language family separately proposed by Harold C. Fleming and
Sergei Starostin Sergei Anatolyevich Starostin (russian: Серге́й Анато́льевич Ста́ростин; March 24, 1953 – September 30, 2005) was a Russian historical linguist and philologist, perhaps best known for his reconstructions of hypothet ...
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 borrowing, including '' 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 reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans. From the 1960s, knowledge of Anatolian became certain enough to establish its relationship to PIE. Using the method of
internal reconstruction Internal reconstruction is a method of reconstructing an earlier state in a language's history using only language-internal evidence of the language in question. The comparative method compares variations between languages, such as in sets of c ...
, an earlier stage, called Pre-Proto-Indo-European, has been proposed. PIE was an
inflected language Fusional languages or inflected languages are a type of synthetic language, distinguished from agglutinative languages by their tendency to use a single inflectional morpheme to denote multiple grammatical, syntactic, or semantic features. For e ...
, in which the grammatical relationships between words were signaled through inflectional morphemes (usually endings). The roots of PIE are basic morphemes carrying a lexical meaning. By addition of suffixes, they form stems, and by addition of endings, these form grammatically inflected words (
nouns A noun () is a word that generally functions as the name of a specific object or set of objects, such as living creatures, places, actions, qualities, states of existence, or ideas.Example nouns for: * Living creatures (including people, alive, ...
or
verbs A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descrip ...
). The reconstructed Indo-European verb system is complex and, like the noun, exhibits a system of
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from German '' Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony (regular vowel variations) in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the strong verb ''sing, sang, sung'' and its ...
.


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 * Pre-Italic and Pre-Celtic (before 2500 BC) * Pre-Armenian and Pre-Greek (after 2500 BC) * Proto- Indo-Iranian (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 (3700 BC) * 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- Indo-Iranian (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 The Nordic Bronze Age (also Northern Bronze Age, or Scandinavian Bronze Age) is a period of Scandinavian prehistory from c. 2000/1750–500 BC. The Nordic Bronze Age culture emerged about 1750 BC as a continuation of the Battle Axe culture (th ...
develops pre-Proto-Germanic, and the (pre)- Proto-Celtic
Urnfield The Urnfield culture ( 1300 BC – 750 BC) was a late Bronze Age culture of Central Europe, often divided into several local cultures within a broader Urnfield tradition. The name comes from the custom of cremating the dead and p ...
and Hallstatt cultures emerge in Central Europe, introducing the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age ( Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age ( Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostl ...
. Migration of the Proto- Italic speakers into the Italian peninsula ( Bagnolo stele). Redaction of the Rigveda and rise of the Vedic civilization in the Punjab. The
Mycenaean civilization Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
gives way to the Greek Dark Ages. Hittite goes extinct. * 1000–500 BC: The Celtic languages spread over Central and Western Europe. 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 Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
. The Vedic Civilization gives way to the Mahajanapadas. Siddhartha Gautama preaches
Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
. Zoroaster composes the Gathas, rise of the Achaemenid Empire, replacing the Elamites and Babylonia. Separation of Proto-Italic into
Osco-Umbrian The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are an extinct group of Italic languages, the Indo-European languages that were spoken in Central and Southern Italy by the Osco-Umbrians before being replaced by Latin, as the power of Ancient Rom ...
and Latin-Faliscan. Genesis of the
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and Old Italic alphabets. A variety of Paleo-Balkan languages are spoken in Southern Europe. * 500 BC – 1 BC/AD:
Classical Antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th century AD centred on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ...
: spread of
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
throughout the Mediterranean and, during the Hellenistic period (
Indo-Greeks The Indo-Greek Kingdom, or Graeco-Indian Kingdom, also known historically as the Yavana Kingdom (Yavanarajya), was a Hellenistic period, Hellenistic-era Ancient Greece, Greek kingdom covering various parts of Afghanistan and the northwestern r ...
), to Central Asia and the
Hindukush The Hindu Kush is an mountain range in Central and South Asia to the west of the Himalayas. It stretches from central and western Afghanistan, Quote: "The Hindu Kush mountains run along the Afghan border with the North-West Frontier Province ...
. Kushan Empire, Mauryan Empire. Proto-Germanic. * 1 BC – AD 500: Late Antiquity, 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 Diaspora, Armenian communities across the ...
.
Proto-Slavic Proto-Slavic (abbreviated PSl., PS.; also called Common Slavic or Common Slavonic) is the unattested, reconstructed proto-language of all Slavic languages. It represents Slavic speech approximately from the 2nd millennium B.C. through the 6th ...
. The Roman Empire and then the Migration period marginalize the Celtic languages to the British Isles. Sogdian, an
Eastern Iranian language The Eastern Iranian languages are a subgroup of the Iranian languages emerging in Middle Iranian times (from c. the 4th century BC). The Avestan language is often classified as early Eastern Iranian. As opposed to the Middle Western Iranian dial ...
, 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 extinct. * 500–1000: Early Middle Ages. The Viking Age forms an
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlemen ...
koine spanning Scandinavia, the British Isles and Iceland. The Islamic conquest and the
Turkic expansion The Turkic peoples are a collection of diverse ethnic groups of West Asia, West, Central Asia, Central, East Asia, East, and North Asia as well as parts of Europe, who speak Turkic languages.. "Turkic peoples, any of various peoples whose memb ...
results in the Arabization and Turkification of significant areas where Indo-European languages were spoken. Tocharian is extinct in the course of the Turkic expansion while 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 and Baltic. * 1500–2000: Early Modern period to present: Colonialism results in the spread of Indo-European languages to every continent, most notably
Romance Romance (from Vulgar Latin , "in the Roman language", i.e., "Latin") may refer to: Common meanings * Romance (love), emotional attraction towards another person and the courtship behaviors undertaken to express the feelings * Romance languages, ...
(North, Central and South America, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia),
West Germanic The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of languages (the others being the North Germanic and the extinct East Germanic languages). The West Germanic branch is classically subdivided into ...
( English in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Australia; to a lesser extent Dutch and German), and
Russian Russian(s) refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and peo ...
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 Proto-Indo-European (PIE) is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European language family. Its proposed features have been derived by linguistic reconstruction from documented Indo-European languages. No direct record of Proto-Indo-E ...
, 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 linguistically conservative (most notably, Lithuanian). Early poetry is of special significance because of the rigid
poetic meter In poetry, metre ( Commonwealth spelling) or meter (American spelling; see spelling differences) is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set o ...
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 Vedic Sanskrit was an ancient language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European language family. It is attested in the Vedas and related literature compiled over the period of the mid- 2nd to mid-1st millennium BCE. It was orally preser ...
(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 A shakha (Sanskrit ', "branch" or "limb") is a Hindu theological school that specializes in learning certain Vedic texts, or else the traditional texts followed by such a school.V. S. Apte. A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary, p. 913, left column.Moni ...
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 Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: Mycenaean Greek (), Dark Ages (), the Archaic p ...
(c. 750–400 BC). Mycenaean Greek (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 (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 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 branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
, attested in a huge amount of poetic and prose material in the Classical period (c. 200 BC – 100 AD) and limited older material from as early as c. 600 BC. * Gothic (the most archaic well-documented
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, E ...
, c. 350 AD), along with the combined witness of the other old Germanic languages: most importantly,
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the mid-5th c ...
(c. 800–1000 AD), Old High German (c. 750–1000 AD) and
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlemen ...
(c. 1100–1300 AD, with limited earlier sources dating to c. 200 AD). * Old Avestan (c. 1700–1200 BC) and Younger Avestan (c. 900 BC). Documentation is sparse, but nonetheless quite important due to its highly archaic nature. * Modern Lithuanian, with limited records in Old Lithuanian (c. 1500–1700 AD). * Old Church Slavonic (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, during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. They spoke the Luwian language, an Indo-European language of the Anatolian sub-fam ...
, Lycian, Lydian and other Anatolian languages (c. 1400–400 BC). * Oscan, Umbrian and other Old Italic languages (c. 600–200 BC). * Old Persian (c. 500 BC). *
Old Prussian Old Prussian was a Western Baltic language belonging to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European languages, which was once spoken by the Old Prussians, the Baltic peoples of the Prussian region. The language is called Old Prussian to avoid con ...
(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 Old Irish, also called Old Gaelic ( sga, Goídelc, Ogham script: ᚌᚑᚔᚇᚓᚂᚉ; ga, Sean-Ghaeilge; gd, Seann-Ghàidhlig; gv, Shenn Yernish or ), is the oldest form of the Goidelic/Gaelic language for which there are extensive writt ...
(c. 700–850 AD). * 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 (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 ( voicing) distinction between voiceless,
voiced Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds (usually consonants). Speech sounds can be described as either voiceless (otherwise known as ''unvoiced'') or voiced. The term, however, is used to refer ...
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 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, one of the
Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, E ...
s, the following are some of the major changes that happened: None of the daughter-language families (except possibly Anatolian, particularly
Luvian Luwian (), sometimes known as Luvian or Luish, is an ancient language, or group of languages, within the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. The ethnonym Luwian comes from ''Luwiya'' (also spelled ''Luwia'' or ''Luvia'') – ...
) 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'' and ''satem'' languages corresponds to the outcome of the PIE plain velars: * The "central" ''satem'' languages ( Indo-Iranian, Balto-Slavic, Albanian, 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 Diaspora, Armenian communities across the ...
) reflect both "plain velar" and labiovelar stops as plain velars, often with secondary 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, Italic, Celtic,
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, Anatolian and Tocharian) reflect both "palatal" and "plain velar" stops as plain velars, while the labiovelars continue unchanged, often with later reduction into plain 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 language The Indo-Aryan languages (or sometimes Indic languages) are a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages in the Indo-European language family. As of the early 21st century, they have more than 800 million speakers, primarily concentrated in India, Pa ...
s 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, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
converted the voiced aspirates into voiceless aspirates. * Italic 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 branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through the power of the ...
). * Celtic, Balto-Slavic, Anatolian, and Albanian merge the voiced aspirated into plain voiced stops. * 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 Diaspora, Armenian communities across the ...
change all three series in a
chain shift In historical linguistics, a chain shift is a set of sound changes in which the change in pronunciation of one speech sound (typically, a phoneme) is linked to, and presumably causes, a change in pronunciation of other sounds as well. The soun ...
(e.g. with ''bh b p'' becoming ''b p f'' (known as ''
Grimm's law Grimm's law (also known as the First Germanic Sound Shift) is a set of sound laws describing the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) stop consonants as they developed in Proto-Germanic in the 1st millennium BC. First systematically put forward by Jacob Gr ...
'' in Germanic)). Among the other notable changes affecting consonants are: * The
Ruki sound law The ruki sound law, also known as the ruki rule or iurk rule, is a historical sound change that took place in the satem branches of the Indo-European language family, namely in Balto-Slavic, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian. According to this sound l ...
(''s'' becomes before ''r, u, k, i'') in the ''
satem Languages of the Indo-European family are classified as either centum languages or satem languages according to how the dorsal consonants (sounds of "K", "G" and "Y" type) of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) developed. An ...
'' languages. * Loss of prevocalic ''p'' in Proto-Celtic. * Development of prevocalic ''s'' to ''h'' in
Proto-Greek The Proto-Greek language (also known as Proto-Hellenic) is the Indo-European language which was the last common ancestor of all varieties of Greek, including Mycenaean Greek, the subsequent ancient Greek dialects (i.e., Attic, Ionic, Aeo ...
, with later loss of ''h'' between vowels. *
Verner's law Verner's law describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby consonants that would usually have been the voiceless fricatives , , , , , following an unstressed syllable, became the voiced fricatives , , , , . The law w ...
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 As the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) broke up, its sound system diverged as well, as evidenced in various sound laws associated with the daughter Indo-European languages. Especially notable is the palatalization that produced the satem lang ...
. :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 Verner's law describes a historical sound change in the Proto-Germanic language whereby consonants that would usually have been the voiceless fricatives , , , , , following an unstressed syllable, became the voiced fricatives , , , , . The law w ...
). * -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 The ruki sound law, also known as the ruki rule or iurk rule, is a historical sound change that took place in the satem branches of the Indo-European language family, namely in Balto-Slavic, Armenian, and Indo-Iranian. According to this sound l ...
). * 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 thematic present indicative of the verbal root * of the English verb '' 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 verb systems to largely
periphrastic In linguistics, periphrasis () is the use of one or more function words to express meaning that otherwise may be expressed by attaching an affix or clitic to a word. The resulting phrase includes two or more collocated words instead of one in ...
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 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 periphrastically by adding a pronoun after the verb: ''beireann tú, beireann sé/sí, beireann sibh, beireann siad''. * The Hindustani (
Hindi Hindi ( Devanāgarī: or , ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in the Hindi Belt region encompassing parts of northern, central, eastern, and western India. Hindi has been ...
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 future subjunctive. The loss of the present indicative in Hindustani is roughly compensated by the periphrastic habitual indicative construction, using the 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 descendant of Proto-Germanic ''*beraną'' (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, a country in Southern Europe: *Greeks, an ethnic group. *Greek language, a branch of the Indo-European language family. **Proto-Greek language, the assumed last common ancestor ...
, ''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). * 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 speakers A first language, native tongue, native language, mother tongue or L1 is the first language or dialect that a person has been exposed to from birth or within the critical period. In some countries, the term ''native language'' or ''mother tongu ...
across all inhabited continents, the largest number by far for any recognised language family. Of the 20 languages with the largest numbers of speakers according to ''Ethnologue'', 10 are Indo-European: English, Hindustani,
Spanish Spanish might refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language, spoken in Spain and many Latin American countries **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Can ...
, Bengali, French,
Russian Russian(s) refers to anything related to Russia, including: *Russians (, ''russkiye''), an ethnic group of the East Slavic peoples, primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries *Rossiyane (), Russian language term for all citizens and peo ...
,
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portu ...
, German,
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranic peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian language of the ...
and Punjabi, 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 around 600 million 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 Proto-Indo-European society is the reconstructed culture of Proto-Indo-Europeans, the ancient speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language, ancestor of all modern Indo-European languages. Scientific approaches Many of the modern ideas in this ...
throughout Eurasia, including that of the Proto-Indo-Europeans themselves, and that of their daughter cultures including the
Indo-Aryans Indo-Aryan peoples are a diverse collection of Indo-European peoples speaking Indo-Aryan languages in the Indian subcontinent. Historically, Aryan were the Indo-European pastoralists who migrated from Central Asia into South Asia and intr ...
, 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 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 Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered a subcontinent of Eurasia and it is located entirel ...
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 The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian O ...
, with the Tocharians inhabiting the Indo-European frontier in western China. By the medieval period, only the Semitic, 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 The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian O ...
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 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 As the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) broke up, its sound system diverged as well, as evidenced in various sound laws associated with the daughter Indo-European languages. Especially notable is the palatalization that produced the satem lang ...
* Indo-European studies * 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

* * * * * Paperback: ISBN 978-9027211866. * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Part II via Internet Archive
* ** Reprinted in * *


Further reading

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


External links


Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997)


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