I have searched all over, and found a few but none of them have all known languages that ever existed, does anyone know of one of these? (p.s. I apologize for making language mistakes, as English is not my home language.)

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    There is no single tree for all languages. There is a forest of phylogenetic trees embracing all languages, but not rooted together except where there is evidence of historic relation, like Indo-European or Afro-Asiatic, which form two separate trees because there is no evidence they are related.
    – jlawler
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 19:07

3 Answers 3


Obviously that would only be possible for languages that we know the existence of. Glottolog fills the bill, as far as I know. There may be gaps where there are some inscriptions that may or may not have been a language (such as the Vinča symbols), but it does include e.g. Minoan.

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    Glottolog does not offer a "phylogenetic tree". This is what the question is about.
    – fdb
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 11:25

It's not just that it's impossible to create a single tree of all languages because of the numerous undocumented extinctions but it's also impossible for currently living (or documented dead) languages.

Glottolog is one great source for world languages, with another being Ethnologue. It is instructive to compare their lists of families (http://glottolog.org/glottolog/family vs. https://www.ethnologue.com/browse/families). They differ in their count by over 300. So, in effect, you would need at anywhere between about 120 and 430 trees to capture the genealogical relationship among the world's languages.

However, even this would give you an extremely impoverished view of the historical and contemporaneous relationships among languages. Language also evolve through change and contact - and in many cases, their current shape is as much due to that as to their long-term historical descent. English is itself a perfect example. Genealogically an offshoot of the Germanic branch of the Indo European tree (http://glottolog.org/resource/languoid/id/macr1271) but so profoundly influenced by North Germanic, Celtic and Romance languages that it's hard to think of it as a very good member of the 'original' family. In fact, Glottolog lists English as a new sub-family 'Macro English' covering the huge variety of dialects and creoles around the world descended from the English of the British isles.

  • The Celtic influence on English is not "profound"; it is minimal.
    – fdb
    Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 0:31
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    @fdb I'm hardly a specialist in this area so you may be right. But my understanding of the literature was that there's been a significant reevaluation of the role Brythonic influence on the shape of English in the last 20 years or so. Contact influences have been postulated in a number of areas from the loss of synthetic forms to significant parts of syntax. That's what I was basing my inclusion of Celtic on. It wasn't central to my point. Commented Nov 7, 2015 at 14:52

There is a phylogeny of all languages, and it's by Merritt Ruhlen, who recognizes 12 groups (A Guide to the World's Languages, p. 390), and there is also what comes close to it in Shevoroshkin and in Harold Fleming, the latter includes Borean, but the higher level groups are not widely accepted.

There is evidence IE and AA are related, but not directly, and the group is of course Nostratic, and the evidence is in regular sound correspondences, reconstructions, and lexical similarities.

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    This is not the majority view among professional linguists.
    – fdb
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 11:26

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