17 Facts About Indo-European languages


Indo-European languages are a language family native to the overwhelming majority of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the northern Indian subcontinent.

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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, Balto-Slavic, Celtic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indo-Iranian, and Italic; and another nine subdivisions that are now extinct.

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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.

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The geographical location where it was spoken, the Proto-Indo-European languages 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 Ukraine and southern Russia, associated with the Yamnaya culture and other related archaeological cultures during the 4th millennium BC to early 3rd millennium BC.

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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 in the form of the pre-Arab Egyptian language and the Semitic languages.

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Indo-European languages 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.

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In 1647, Dutch linguist and scholar Marcus Zuerius van Boxhorn noted the similarity among certain Asian and European Indo-European languages and theorized that they were derived from a primitive common language which he called Scythian.

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Indo-European languages included in his hypothesis Dutch, Albanian, Greek, Latin, Persian, and German, later adding Slavic, Celtic, and Baltic languages.

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Meanwhile, Mikhail Lomonosov compared different language groups, including Slavic, Baltic, Iranian, Finnish, Chinese, "Hottentot", and others, noting that related Indo-European languages must have separated in antiquity from common ancestors.

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Hypothesis reappeared in 1786 when Sir William Jones first lectured on the striking similarities among three of the oldest Indo-European languages known in his time: Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, to which he tentatively added Gothic, Celtic, and Persian, though his classification contained some inaccuracies and omissions.

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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.

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Features that separate Anatolian from all other branches of Indo-European languages have been interpreted alternately as archaic debris or as innovations due to prolonged isolation.

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However, these theories remain highly controversial, and most specialists in Indo-European languages linguistics are sceptical or agnostic about such proposals.

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Some IE Indo-European languages have moved from synthetic verb systems to largely periphrastic systems.

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Today, Indo-European languages are spoken by billions of native speakers across all inhabited continents, the largest number by far for any recognised language family.

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However Semitic Indo-European languages remain dominant in much of the Middle East and North Africa, and Caucasian Indo-European languages in much of the Caucasus region.

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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 become the lingua franca of global communication.

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