Most languages of the world can be combined into one of many language families. Language families are groups of languages that all descend from a common ancestor. Indo-European languages are the most prominent language family on earth and it is widely used in many parts of Europe, the Americans, and in Southern and Western Asia. It comprises 446 living languages, representing 6.2% of all languages in the world. Some three billion or 46.32% speak the languages belonging to the Indo-European language. English is one of the Indo-European languages but they include diverse languages, such as – Russian, French, Greek, Hindi, and Persian.
Origins and Early History of Indo-European Languages
Beginning at some period several thousand years B. C. the Indo-European started at a point in southern Europe near the Asia border. It then spread itself both East and West. While spreading, it mixed with many non-European tongues and was modified by them variously at different stages resulting in different subgroups or branches of language and different dialects. However, there still remains in all members of the family, a body of simple, everyday words easily recognized as connected with some variations.
There are 10 main branches of the Indo-European language family, including – Anatolian, Albanian, Armenian, Balto-Salvic, Celtic, Greek, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, Italic, and Tocharian. Each one covers different areas in the world. Today, the largest among the Indo-European language family branch is Indo-Iranian. Some of the language branches are also composed of a few sub-branches, which are detailed below.
- Anatolian – The Anatolian branch was dominant in Turkey’s Asian portion are some parts of northern Syria. Among the languages belonging to this branch, the most famous was Hittite. Examples of the language families that were found were Lydian, Lycian, Palaic, and Luviar.
- Indo-Iranian – There are two sub-branches of the Indo-Iranian branch – Iranian and Indic. The languages belonging to this branch are commonly used in Iran, Pakistan, and India and areas close to these countries.
Sanskrit belongs to the Indic sub-branch. It is one of the oldest languages. One language that is part of the Iranian sub-branch is Avestan. It is considered as Sanskrit’s sister.
Today, many of the languages in the Indic sub-branch is spoken in Pakistan and India, like Bengali, Punjabi, and Hindi-Urdu. In Tajikistan Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq, Kurdish, Pashto, and Farsi, or modern Persian are commonly spoken.
- Greek – Greek is a collection of different dialects. It has over 3000 years of written history. It is dominant in the Aegean Sea and surrounding areas, the Peloponnese Peninsula, and the Balkan’s Southern end.
- Italic – Dominant in the Italian Peninsula was italic, although the italic people were not from Italy. The surviving languages, belonging to this branch are the Romance languages: Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan, Romanian, and Spanish.
- Celtic – The Celtic branch has insular Celtic and Continental Celtic as sub-branches. Several Celtic-speaking tribes spread across areas that comprise what we know today as the western Czech Republic, Austria, and Southern Germany in 600 BCE.
- Germanic – The Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family has three sub-branches – West Germanic and North Germanic The third one is East Germanic which is now extinct. The Germanic-speaking people inhabited the areas along southern Scandinavia to the North Baltic sea coast.
- Armenian – Armenian-speaking people originating has not been established yet. The Persian language in turn has a powerful impact on the Armenian language.
- Tocharian – The Tocharian-speaking people resided in western China’s Taklamakan Desert, but their history is unknown. This branch of the Indo-European language family no longer exists.
- Balto-Slavic – The Balto-Slavic branch has Baltic and Slavic for tis sub-branches.
- Albanian – Among the branches of the Indo-European language family has a written form is Albanian. Modern Albanian is the official language of Albania in other parts of former Yugoslavia and in small amounts of the Republic of Morocco, Greece, and Southern Italy.
Characteristics of Indo-European Language
Two special characteristics indicate the Indo-Europeanness of a language – Structure and Vocabulary.
As regards Structure, the Indo-European languages use forms that have been invented and described by the ancient Greeks as Parts of Speech.
Secondly, Indo-European languages have many identical fundamental words which form their common basis of vocabulary. For instance, most of the names of family relationships domestic materials, or familiar animals.
The Indo-European family is the largest among the language families existing today. It includes some of the most important languages in the world, such as the Romance languages as well as English, German, and Russian, and several languages are spoken in India and surrounding areas. Their development is fascinating and their relationship becomes apparent upon closer inspection.