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Language Tree: A Scheme Compiled by Linguists

Дерево языков

There are several thousand languages in the world. The best-known directories include only modern (i.e., living and recently extinct) languages. According to the Ethnologist, there are 6910 of them, and according to the Linguosphere Register ( English ) - 4994 . Most of them are united in families, some languages ​​are considered isolated (i.e. represent monolingual families) or remain unclassified.

Do you know that all the languages ​​that humanity uses today can be divided into several groups according to their origin? Illustrator Minna Sandberg offers informative infographics showing how different languages ​​are related to each other, and what place each of them occupies in the world.

Language tree

A family of languages is considered a genetic linguistic association of about the same level of depth as the Indo-European languages, that is, disintegrated about 6-7 thousand years ago. Some families, traditionally so-called, in fact turn out to be deeper associations (for example, Austronesian languages, Cushite languages). Below they are called superfamilies .

In total there are about 420 language families, more than 100 isolates and more than 100 unclassified languages. Families are often combined into units of a higher level - macro-families (phylum, English phylum), however, at present, the existence of most of them continues to be only a scientific hypothesis, requiring further confirmation. Only theories about the existence of the Nostratic and Afrasian macrofamilies received reliable justification.

The most convenient way to organize such a large number of families is not genetic, but geographical - according to continents or continents, although the boundaries of language families, of course, do not quite correspond to physical boundaries.

Genetic diversity is not the same in different regions.

  1. Eurasia : a total of 21 families, 4 isolates and 12 unclassified languages.
  2. Africa and Southwest Asia : 28 families in total, 10 isolates and 10 unclassified languages.
  3. Oceania : "Papuan" and Australian. Only 100 families and 32 isolated languages.
  4. North America (including Mesoamerica): a total of 42 families, 28 isolates, and 6 unclassified languages.
  5. South America : 55 families, 43 isolated and 77 unclassified languages, stand out according to the latest information.
Language tree

The larger the "sheet", the more people speak the corresponding language. English, as one would expect, in champions. However, for many it will come as a surprise that almost as many people speak Punjabi in the world as German, and Bengali more than French and even Portuguese.

Language tree

European languages ​​are divided into three main branches - Slavic, Romance and Germanic. At the same time, English and other languages ​​of Britain - primarily Welsh (Wales) and Gaelic (Scotland) account for each other with seventh water on jelly. Slovak and Slovenian are very distant relatives, but Latvian and Lithuanian are much closer to Russian than to Estonian.

Language tree

On the infographics, the German roots of the English language are clearly visible.

Language tree

Unlike other Scandinavian languages ​​- Swedish and Norwegian - Finnish belongs to the group of Uralic languages ​​along with Estonian and Udmurt. And Hungarian is a close relative of the languages ​​of the Khanty and Mansi peoples.

Language tree

This powerful, sprawling linguistic branch is an Indian group of Indo-European languages. All of them are active and almost all are used in the territory of modern India. Can you imagine how difficult it is for the inhabitants of this country?

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