Indo-European languages, Diversification

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Summary

The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects. There are about 439 languages and dialects, according to the 2009 Ethnologue estimate, about half (221) belonging to the Indo-Aryan subbranch. It includes most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and the Indian Subcontinent, and was also predominant in ancient Anatolia. With written attestations appearing since the Bronze Age in the form of the Anatolian languages and Mycenaean Greek, the Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the second-longest recorded history, after the [[Afroasi

Details

The diversification of the parent language into the attested branches of daughter languages is historically unattested.

The timeline of the evolution of the various daughter languages, on the other hand, is mostly undisputed, quite regardless of the question of Indo-European origins.

Using a mathematical analysis borrowed from evolutionary biology, Don Ringe and Wendy Tarnow propose the following evolutionary tree of Indo-European branches:

  • Pre-Italic and Pre-Celtic (before 2500 BCE)
  • Pre-Armenian and Pre-Greek (after 2500 BCE)
  • Pre-Germanic and Pre-Balto-Slavic; proto-Germanic ca. 500 BCE

David Anthony proposes the following sequence:

  • Pre-Italic and Pre-Celtic (3000 BCE)
  • Pre-Armenian (2800 BCE)
  • Pre-Balto-Slavic (2800 BCE)
  • Pre-Greek (2500 BCE)
  • Proto-Indo-Iranian (2200 BCE); split between Iranian and Old Indic 1800 BCE

From 1500 BCE the following sequence may be given:

  • 1500–2000: Early Modern period to present: Colonialism results in the spread of Indo-European languages to every continent, most notably Romance (North, Central and South America, French Canada, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia), West Germanic (English in North America, Sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Australia; to a lesser extent Dutch and German), and Russian to Central Asia and North Asia.

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