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Language Tree: A Linguistic Scheme

Дерево языков

There are several thousand languages in the world. The most famous directories include only modern (i.e. living and recently extinct) languages. According to the Ethnologist, those are 6910 , and according to the Lingvosphere Registry ( English ) - 4994 . Most of them are united in families, some languages ​​are considered to be isolated (that is, they represent single language families) or remain unclassified.

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

Language tree

The family of languages is considered to be a genetic linguistic association of approximately the same level of depth as Indo-European languages, that is, which decayed about 6-7 thousand years ago. Some families, traditionally referred to as such, turn out to be deeper associations (for example, Austronesian languages, Cushitic languages). Below they are called super families .

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), but now the existence of most of them continues to be only a scientific hypothesis that needs further confirmation. Only theories about the existence of the Nostratic and Afro-Asiatic macro families have received a reliable justification.

The most convenient way of organizing such a large number of families is not genetic, but geographical — across continents or continents, although the boundaries of language families, of course, do not fully correspond to physical boundaries.

Genetic diversity is not the same for different regions.

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

The larger the “list”, the more people speak the appropriate language. English, as expected, in the champions. However, for many it will be a surprise that almost as many people speak Punjabi in the world as in German, and Bengali speaks 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 - first of all, Welsh (Wales) and Gaelic (Scotland) each other are the seventh water on the jelly. Slovak and Slovenian are very distant relatives, but Latvian and Lithuanian are much closer to Russian than to Estonian.

Language tree

On 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 the Ural languages ​​together with Estonian and Udmurt. And Hungarian is a close relative of the languages ​​of the Khanty and Mansi peoples.

Language tree

This powerful, spreading language 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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