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


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