Questions tagged [language-families]

Groupings of languages which can all be traced back to a common ancestor language they evolved from, for instance the Romance languages are all descended from Latin.

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-3 votes
1 answer
93 views

How similar are Hebrew and Arabic?

Assuming they share a recent common ancestor, are there a number of cognates in their lexicons?
-1 votes
4 answers
9k views

Is Thai language related or a descendant of Sanskrit?

Why is the Thai language classified as Sino-Tibetan/Sino-Burmese when its script looks like Sanskrit to me?
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

Is there a general consensus on what modern language is the closest relative of Albanian?

I'm off to Albania tomorrow so starting to get more and more interested in the language. It's one of the outliers on the Indo-European family tree. It's not hard to see a relationship but it's not ...
-1 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why didn't a single language predominate China, Japan, Korea?

Because related Indo-European languages in the West spread enormously, why didn't related languages of some family (an obvious possibility is Sinitic) similarly spread through the areas that are now ...
-3 votes
3 answers
88 views

Most different language from Zulu

Out of all languages in the world, through all language families on earth, of all 7,000 languages on the planet, which one has the most genetic distance from Zulu.
2 votes
1 answer
237 views

Japanese is in its own lingustic family, but it sure seems to have a lot in common with Turkish

I speak Japanese, and recently, I've been exposed to Turkish. There's a good deal of overlap between structure, and some words. An example is "good", where it's "iidesu" in ...
13 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is the Indo-European language family made up?

Question Which European Languages are not Indo-European? on History.SE got this peculiar comment from user mathreadler: None of them are. Indo-European is completely made-up language family by ...
0 votes
1 answer
83 views

Can Tungusic and Mongolic be a language family that has same root

https://drive.google.com/file/d/16qyiuz4-rFJl0W1BHbFxA2Ujv9Qp7Key/view?usp=share_link Mongolic language family book pdf https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tGPEMAgZRqBiuFT4vJrvf41NXxlANjpg/view?usp=...
-2 votes
1 answer
401 views

How are languages classified into families?

I have heard that languages like Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French are classified as Romance languages. Languages like Dutch, German, and English are classified as Germanic languages. All of ...
5 votes
2 answers
443 views

Have other language families been mapped like Proto-Indo-European has?

Are there Linguists that have or are currently working to reconstruct proto-languages other than PIE? Or to map the historical relationships between various African, Asian, Native American, or other ...
4 votes
1 answer
210 views

Accuracy of automatic (machine) translation of two languages in same language family

Are there any statistic on how accuracy the automated (program/machine) transition from one language to another language of the same language family? For example from turkey to azerbaijan, uzbek, ...
14 votes
4 answers
3k views

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

Suppose language A and language B belong to the same language family. And suppose the speakers of language A understand language B a lot better than the speakers of language B understand language A. ...
3 votes
2 answers
505 views

Why are the first three digits in Austronesian languages so close to P.I.E.?

I noticed that the first three digit words for most Austronesian languages are awfully close to P.I.E. I speak Tagalog and at first, I had thought that the words for one two and three had been taken ...
1 vote
2 answers
3k views

Modern Khmer and modern Vietnamese genetic proximity

I know that Khmer and Vietnamese are considered genetically related (Austroasian language family) but I don't know what were and/or are significant commonalities to justify that consideration. I also ...
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

How does an original proto language produce its daughter languages?

I am trying to understand the principles how a proto language produces it daughter languages, do they proliferate from dialects of the same proto language or do they proliferate from dialects of other ...
9 votes
2 answers
4k views

What program can I use to make a tree of a language family?

I'm not looking to make anything really special looking, I'd just like to make basic branches going down to draw a family tree. I tried Paint but that's difficult to edit, and Word wouldn't be easy to ...
7 votes
7 answers
11k views

Are Semitic and Indo-European languages at all related?

I can't help but notice word pairs between Arabic and some European languages that seem to be cognate, such as: Sabah "seven"/ German Sieben also "seven" Ktab "book"/ English tablet (both something ...
10 votes
4 answers
5k views

Is there a named common ancestor of Germanic and Latin besides "Indo-European"?

I was just answering a question about the origins of English and Latin and wanted to talk about their common ancestors but ran into a surprising problem. So we know the majority of languages in ...
35 votes
6 answers
13k views

Can Modern Hebrew be considered an Indo-European language?

According to this Wikipedia page Zuckermann argues that Israeli Hebrew, which he calls "Israeli", is genetically both Indo-European (Germanic, Slavic and Romance) and Afro-Asiatic (Semitic). He ...
1 vote
1 answer
280 views

How likely is a close connection between Northwest Caucasian languages and Proto-Indo-European?

How likely is a "Pontic" language family linking languages from Northwestern Caucasus with Proto-Indo-European? The Yamnaya people had a lot of Caucasus ancestry, could some tribe from the ...
0 votes
1 answer
175 views

Would we be able to prove "Afroasiatic hypothesis" without Akkadian and Egyptian corpora?

In an alternative world where ancient Akkadian and Egyptian corpora didn't survive, if someone formulated the "Afroasiatic hypothesis" encompassing the branches that current consensus places ...
15 votes
3 answers
1k views

Are there other pairs of languages that are as close grammatically despite not being in the same language family as Korean and Japanese?

Though there are many theories grouping Korean and Japanese in the same family, none of these are widely accepted by linguists. Yet the grammars of these two languages are extremely similar in many ...
3 votes
2 answers
684 views

Examples of languages that should be considered dialects, or dialects that should be considered languages

Are there any examples of languages that are extremely similar but are nonetheless considered to still be separate languages? Or the converse, dialects of one language that are extremely different ...
3 votes
3 answers
203 views

Are proto-languages necessary to divide languages ​within a family into groups?

For example, Indo-European family is divided into groups, such as Slavic, Romance, Germanic, etc. Some of these groups can also be divided, but let`s just assume, that there is no further division. ...
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why are mixed languages so rare?

It seems to be an established fact that mixed languages are rare, and that most languages can be classified as belonging to some family. And this seems to be true; for example, in the former ...
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Does an affinity between languages necessitate that the speakers be ethnically related?

It is generally assumed that semitic languages like Hebrew and Arabic are similar because the speakers of those languages are ethnically related and share a common ancestry. In other words, A Hebrew ...
1 vote
1 answer
137 views

Could English fracture into a family in the future [closed]

I am curious about the future, and the English language. Could English turn into a family of languages, like American, British, and Indian which are related? This happened with Romance languages, and ...
6 votes
2 answers
400 views

Is agnosticism the current orthodoxy regarding linguistic macrofamilies?

I'm asking this very much much as a interested layman. As I understand things, the academic linguistics community, by and large, views macrofamily hypotheses - Nostratic, Altaic, etc - rather poorly. ...
5 votes
1 answer
825 views

Is the usage of sarcasm or irony dependent on the language and its structure?

Sarcasm and irony are a form of humor used by a lot of languages. Are they aided by certain features or structure of the language? Are they dependent on the presence of certain structures within a ...
2 votes
1 answer
255 views

Similarities between Proto-Austronesian and Chinese?

Proto-Austronesian was a language that was spoken about 5,000 years ago near Taiwan. I am just curious about, partly because of the geographic connection, if Chinese is related to the Austronesian ...
3 votes
2 answers
443 views

Does Sanskrit really have a large proportion of borrowings from non IE stock?

A comment on an answer to anoher question about Lithuanian suggests that 'quite a large number of words was borrowed from non-IE languages'. While some words in Sanskrit indeed seem to have Fenno-...
2 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is the word, "problem," new to non-English languages?

I've been listening to radio broadcasts lately where a person will be speaking German or Pashtun or Russian or whatever and a translator will be supplying an English rendition, in a format which makes ...
0 votes
1 answer
2k views

How much Lithuanian and Romanian languages are mutually intelligible?

I have heard that Lithuanian and Romanian are related. As such, I want to know, to what extent they are mutually intelligible.
29 votes
4 answers
9k views

Why do English verbs inflect so little, especially in regard to "person"?

Most Indo-European languages have verbs which endings change according to the person. I made a table with the most common (and close) languages and focussed on the category of person and the present ...
4 votes
1 answer
997 views

What language was spoken in East Asia before Proto-Turkic?

From Wikipedia we have: The Proto-Turkic language is the linguistic reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Turkic languages that was spoken by the Proto-Turks before their divergence ...
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

Origins of Turkic language family? Alternatives to Altaic?

I was just reading about various Altaic language grouping hypotheses on wikipedia. According the article, evidence for an Altaic language family that would include Turkic, Uralic, Mongolian, Tungusic, ...
1 vote
2 answers
251 views

How old is Hixkaryana?

Hixkaryana is a Carib language, spoken by some 500 people, in the states Amazonas and Pará in Brazil. I am interested in the history of this language, but very little is known. Can someone help me to ...
4 votes
3 answers
347 views

Is the existence of a mixed branch of Indo-European plausible?

I was thinking about the possible existence of a branch of the Indo-European family that combines features of several branches. For example, a branch that is something in between the Germanic and ...
8 votes
2 answers
365 views

Can Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian be considered linguistically distinct?

I grew up the in the former Yugoslavia, and the language I studied in school was called Serbocroatian, which was spoken in four out of the six republics of the union. When the country fell apart, the ...
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is there a phylogenetic tree for all known languages?

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 ...
15 votes
2 answers
3k views

What is the current understanding of Greenberg's classification of African languages?

In a reply to the criticism of his classification of the languages of the Americas, Greenberg (1989: 107) characterized his work on African languages as follows: [...] my classification is clearly ...
2 votes
1 answer
87 views

Where do I find datasets for linguistic phylogenetics?

Where can I find machine readable datasets for use in phylogenetic estimation? I am looking for anything---lexical cognate data, phonological data, morphosyntactic data---in any language family.
3 votes
1 answer
186 views

What is Songhay's Family?

What's the current thinking on genetic affiliations of Songhay? My old texts confidentially place it as Nilo-Saharan. This places a likely proto-Songhay homeland back closer to the Nile, with its ...
28 votes
4 answers
4k views

Do the Khoisan languages resemble the world's first language?

I have read somewhere that if there ever was a world's first language*, that language must have had very much in common** with the Khoisan languages. Arguments in support of this hypothesis are: ...
0 votes
1 answer
807 views

How to get the similarity between languages?

Is there a good dataset or library or some trick for getting the similarity between languages, or n most similar languages? Similarity here means lexical and structural similarity for the purposes of ...
2 votes
0 answers
134 views

All all genetically Eastern Algonquian languages in the east?

Below is the distribution of the Algonquian Language Family from Wikipedia: They report this language family has 3 branches, but only one is "genetic" (actually related in structure, not just in ...
16 votes
5 answers
2k views

Do linguists measure the relation distance between languages? How?

Sometimes, I read passages like: Languages X, Y and Z in region A are closely related to each other, comparable to French, Italian and Spanish in Western Europe. The discussion in the question "Do ...
5 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is historical linguistics still producing new results?

My impression is that language families were established in the early XX century and, since then, there have been speculations how language families may be related but no new results, which are ...
1 vote
1 answer
2k views

What is a small language w.r.t. the number of speakers?

What would you call a "small" or "medium" language in regards to the number of speakers? I suppose a "big" language would be Mandarin, English, Spanish, Arabic. Small would be Greenlandic or Faroese. ...
3 votes
1 answer
310 views

Difference between languages related a long time ago and unrelated ones

Would there be a theoretical way to distinguish between two related languages which diverged a long time ago, like tens of thousands years, and two totally unrelated languages, say, created ...