The Indo-European Language Family
The Indo-European language family includes about 150 languages and dialects spoken by about three billion people, including most of the major language families of Europe and western Asia. This hypothesis was first proposed by Sir William Jones, who noticed similarities between four of the oldest languages known in his time, Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit and Persian. Scholars used to call the group "Indo-Germanic languages". However, when it became obvious that the connection is relevant to most of Europe's languages, the name was expanded to Indo-European. Some of the modern languages include Bengali, English, French, German, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. The Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the longest recorded history after the Afro-asiatic language family.
The languages of the Indo-European group are spoken by roughly three billion people, the largest number for recognized language families. Of the top 20 modern languages, 12 are Indo-European: Spanish, English, Hindi, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, German, Marathi, French, Italian, Punjabi and Urdu, accounting for over 1.6 billion native speakers. The connection is determined by genetic relationships, meaning that all members are presumed to be descendants of a common ancestor. Membership in the various branches, groups and subgroups is also genetic, suggesting a common ancestor that split off from other Indo-European groups.
The Indo-European Family stretches from the Americas through Europe to North India, and is divided into twelve branches, ten of which contain existing languages. The Celtic Branch; this is now the smallest branch. These languages originated in Central Europe and once dominated Western Europe. The Germanic Branch; these languages originate from Old Norse and Saxon. Due to the influence of early Christian missionaries, the vast majority of...