I.e.: What are the Linguistic Distances of Ancient Greek compared to 2000s English, French, and Spanish?

I know that each Indo-European language belongs to its own Language Family: Ancient Greek to Hellenic, English to Germanic, and French to Italic ⊃ Romance.


1 Answer 1


There's no single agreed definition of "linguistic distance" or method of calculating it, so it depends what you mean by that term.

For an intuitive sense of "linguistic distance" which negatively correlates with similarity and mutual intelligibility, the difference between Ancient Greek and these modern languages is pretty close to maximal. Their structures are extremely different and there is zero mutual intelligibility. Even though there are numerous cognates between Greek and these languages, those words have changed so much in both sound and meaning as to be unrecognizable for the most part except to specialists.

If you're asking for a lexicostatistical measure of difference, which only asks how many cognates the languages have in common, then the difference would be smaller. I don't have a number for you, but searching for "Indo-European lexicostatistics" could get you started.

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