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This Amazing Tree That Shows How Languages Are Connected Will Change The Way You See Our World
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Illustration4 years ago

This Amazing Tree That Shows How Languages Are Connected Will Change The Way You See Our World

Did you know that most of the different languages we speak today can actually be placed in only a couple of groups by their origin? This is what illustrator Minna Sundberg has captured in an elegant infographic of a language tree which reveals some fascinating ancestry links between the oldest languages.

Using the research data from Ethnologue, Minna has used a family tree metaphor to illustrate how all major European, and even plenty of Eastern languages can be grouped into Indo-European and Uralic families of languages. The whole image is dotted with languages, with bigger leaves representing those with the most native speakers. But even this detailed language family tree doesn’t cover the immense variety of languages out there: “Naturally, most tiny languages didn’t make it on the origins of language graph,” the artist explained to io9. “There’s literally hundreds of them in the Indo-European family alone and I could only fit so many on this page, so most sub-1 mil. speaker languages that don’t have the official status somewhere got the cut.”

More info: Minna Sundberg | Print (h/t: mental flossdemilked)

Bigger leaves represent more people using the language as their native tongue

This Amazing Tree That Shows How Languages Are Connected Will Change The Way You See Our World

Here’s a high-resolution image.

The European branch splits in three: Slavic, Romance and Germanic. A rather complicated relationship between the Slavic languages is visible

It also shows the Germanic roots of English language

Surprisingly, unlike its Scandinavian neighbors, the Finnish language belongs to Uralic family

The Indo-Iranian group reveals the links between Hindi and Urdu as well as some regional Indian languages like Rajasthani

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John L
Community Member
4 years ago

This is why we anthropologists call Caucasian people "Indo-European". All Indo-Europeans are 'so called' White people, even those living in India and Pakistan. They are just highly tanned, that's all. We still haven't officially nailed down what caused this migration all over Europe and the Middle East, but it appears that the sudden and Catastrophic flooding of the Black Sea, around 5,600BC, was the cause of this diasporia. And the flooding happened because the melting ice from the last glaciation finally began overflowing at the Bosphorus strait, separating the Med from the Black Sea. That, in a nutshell, is probably the cause of all this migration, and why the languages are linked to each other.

Ztata
Community Member
4 years ago

I don't understand, why all "throwed dog's" on John L, he said right opinions. Indoeuropeans far time ago were all with whites ancestry, even today they bearing that race dna, but in mix with south afro, and chineses. We all have some root's from neanderthals , from atlants!

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Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

This tree is really a nice summary, particularly as it shows how close some languages are, how far away others are. For example, it is always impressive to see how far away the Skandinavian languages are from Finnish – although if you hear these you can tell that they have nothing to do with each other. However, if would be great to have another figure to show language influence. If you think of English for instance, it has this Germanic origin, but in many areas latinized words are used. Often, you even have a word of Germanic origin and one of Latin origin to express the same thing, just either of the two is archaic and not widely used. Languages are a fascinating topic...

Verner Carlberg
Community Member
4 years ago

That's true. I'm Danish and have tutored Danish to two Fins. In Finland, they learn Swedish in primary school, but my students considered that torture and did their best to actually not learn it. If Fins study hard and keep repeating what they have already learned, then they can learn Danish relatively fast. Not as fast as English speakers, but still, quite fast. However, if they let their guard down, and decide they don't need to repeat what they learned months ago, they forget every rule (or rather the exceptions to the rules, which is the worst things about learning Danish). It's not that way with English speakers (English is actually closer to Danish than to German). Finnish has 15 (that's right, FIFTEEN) kasus, whereas Danish has 3, which I guess would make it very difficult for a Scandinavian or English speaker to learn. I know, that I don't have the guts to try.

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Nga BuiHoang
Community Member
4 years ago

What about Chinese?? Cantonese Korean Japanese Vietnamese

Roxane Milko
Community Member
4 years ago

Korean and Japanese are considered as "isolated languages" without clear origin. It is suspected that they come from the same language tree as Mongolian though.

Load More Replies...
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John L
Community Member
4 years ago

This is why we anthropologists call Caucasian people "Indo-European". All Indo-Europeans are 'so called' White people, even those living in India and Pakistan. They are just highly tanned, that's all. We still haven't officially nailed down what caused this migration all over Europe and the Middle East, but it appears that the sudden and Catastrophic flooding of the Black Sea, around 5,600BC, was the cause of this diasporia. And the flooding happened because the melting ice from the last glaciation finally began overflowing at the Bosphorus strait, separating the Med from the Black Sea. That, in a nutshell, is probably the cause of all this migration, and why the languages are linked to each other.

Ztata
Community Member
4 years ago

I don't understand, why all "throwed dog's" on John L, he said right opinions. Indoeuropeans far time ago were all with whites ancestry, even today they bearing that race dna, but in mix with south afro, and chineses. We all have some root's from neanderthals , from atlants!

Load More Replies...
Hans
Community Member
4 years ago

This tree is really a nice summary, particularly as it shows how close some languages are, how far away others are. For example, it is always impressive to see how far away the Skandinavian languages are from Finnish – although if you hear these you can tell that they have nothing to do with each other. However, if would be great to have another figure to show language influence. If you think of English for instance, it has this Germanic origin, but in many areas latinized words are used. Often, you even have a word of Germanic origin and one of Latin origin to express the same thing, just either of the two is archaic and not widely used. Languages are a fascinating topic...

Verner Carlberg
Community Member
4 years ago

That's true. I'm Danish and have tutored Danish to two Fins. In Finland, they learn Swedish in primary school, but my students considered that torture and did their best to actually not learn it. If Fins study hard and keep repeating what they have already learned, then they can learn Danish relatively fast. Not as fast as English speakers, but still, quite fast. However, if they let their guard down, and decide they don't need to repeat what they learned months ago, they forget every rule (or rather the exceptions to the rules, which is the worst things about learning Danish). It's not that way with English speakers (English is actually closer to Danish than to German). Finnish has 15 (that's right, FIFTEEN) kasus, whereas Danish has 3, which I guess would make it very difficult for a Scandinavian or English speaker to learn. I know, that I don't have the guts to try.

Load More Replies...
Nga BuiHoang
Community Member
4 years ago

What about Chinese?? Cantonese Korean Japanese Vietnamese

Roxane Milko
Community Member
4 years ago

Korean and Japanese are considered as "isolated languages" without clear origin. It is suspected that they come from the same language tree as Mongolian though.

Load More Replies...
Load More Comments
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