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History of English Language Indo-European Languages

History of Indo-European Languages Geographic &Linguistic Classification Subdivision of Indo-European Languages Indo-Iranian Armenian Hellenic Albanian Italic Balto-Slavic Germanic Celtic : Abid Hussain

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History of Indo-European Languages


The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred languages and dialects. There are 439 languages and dialects according to the 2009 Ethnologue estimate, about half (221) belonging to the Indo- Iranian. It includes most major current languages of Europe. Indo-European languages are spoken by almost 3 billion native speakers, the largest number by far for any recognized language family. Of the twenty languages with the largest numbers of native speakers, 12 are Indo-European. In the 16th century, European visitors to India began to suggest similarities between Indian, Iranic and European languages. In 1583 Thomas Stephens, an English Jesuit missionary in Goa, in a letter to his brother that was not published until the 20th century, noted similarities between Indian languages, specifically Sanskrit, and Greek and Latin. In 1647, Dutch linguist and scholar Marcus Zuerius Van Boxhorn noted the similarity among Indo-European languages, and supposed that they derived from a primitive common language he called Scythian but Van Boxhorns suggestions did not become widely known and did not stimulate further research. In 1786, Sir William Jones lectured on the striking similarities between three of the oldest languages known in his time: Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, to which he tentatively added Gothic, Celtic and Persian, though hid classification contained some inaccuracies and omissions. It was Thomas Young who in 1813 first used the term Indo- European, which became the standard scientific term through the work of Franz Bopp, whose systematic comparison of these and other old languages supported the theory. Franz Bopps Comparative Grammar, which appeared between 1833 and 1852 is the beginning of Indo-European studies as an academic discipline. The generation of Indo-Europeanists active in the last third of the 20thcentury developed a better understanding of morphology.

Geographic and Linguistic Distribution of Indo-European Languages


Before the 16th century, these languages were spoken in Europe, and South, Central and Southwest Asia and today they are spoken all over the world. IndoEuropean languages are one of the worlds major language families. The IndoEuropean family is significant to the field of historical linguistics as possessing the second longest recorded history, after the Afro-Asiatic family. Subdivision of Indo-European Languages The approximate present-day distribution of the Indo- European branches within their homelands of Europe and Asia:

1. Indo-Iranian.
The Indo-Iranian languages, also known as the Aryan languages, constitute the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European language family. It is also the largest branch, with more than 1 billion speakers stretching from Europe and the Caucasus eastward and south to Sri Lanka. Indo-Iranian languages were once spoken across a still wider area. The so-called Migration Period saw Indo-Iranian languages disappear from Eastern Europe. The oldest attested Indo- Iranian languages are Vedic Sanskrit, Older and Younger Avestan and Old Persian (ancient Iranian languages).

2. Armenian.
It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities. It has its own script, the Armenian alphabet, and is of interest to linguists for its distinctive phonological development within the Indo-European family of languages. Linguists classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. Armenian has a long literary history, with a fifth-century Bible translation as its oldest surviving text. Its vocabulary has been heavily influenced by Western Middle Iranian languages.

3. Hellenic.
Hellenic refers to the same period as Classical Greek. It is the time of Homer later the great Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Hellenic is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, western Asia Minor, Greece, and the Aegean Islands, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history; other systems such as Linear B and Cypriot syllabary, were previously used. The Greek language holds an important place in the histories of Europe. Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world and beyond during classical antiquity.

4. Albanian.
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.4 million people, primarily in Albania, Kosovo, and the Republic of Macedonia but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including Montenegro, Greece, and Italy. Centuries old communities speaking Albanianbased dialects can be found scattered in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily and Ukraine. Moreover our knowledge of Albanian, except for a few words, extends back only as far as the fifteen century of our era, and, when we first meet with it, the vocabulary is so mixed with Latin, Greek, Turkish and Slavonic elements owing to conquests and other causes, that it is somewhat difficult to isolate the original Albanian. For this reason its position among the languages of the Indo-European family was slow to be recognized. It was formerly classed with the Hellenic group, but since the beginning of the present century it has been recognized as an independent member of the language family.

5. Italic.
The Italic languages are a subfamily of the Indo-European language family originally spoken by Italic people. They include the Romance languages derived from Latin (Galician, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French, Romanian, Occitan, etc).

In the past various definitions of Italic have been prevailed. Italic includes the Latin subgroup (Latin and the Romance languages as well as the ancient Italic languages (Faliscan, Osco-Umbrian and two unclassified languages, Aequian and Vestinian). In the extreme view, Italic did not exist, but the different groups descended from Indo-European and converged because of geographic contiquity. In the intermediate view, the italic languages are one of the ten or eleven major subgroups of the Indo-European language family.

6. Balto- Slavic.
The Balto-Slavic language group traditionally comprises the Baltic and Slavic languages, belonging to the Indo-European family of languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other Indo-European branch, which points to a period of common development. Most IndoEuropeanists classify Baltic and Slavic languages into a single branch, even though some details of the nature of their relationship remain in dispute in some circles, usually due to political controversies. A Proto Baltic-Slavic language is reconstruct able by the descending from Proto Indo-European by means of well-defined sound laws, and out of which modern Slavic and Baltic languages descended. This is the national language of Eastern Slavic, Western Slavic, Southern Slavic and Eastern Baltic.

7. Germanic (Teutonic)
The Germanic Languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken by Germanic people. It was also known as Teutonic because it was the language of The Teutons, the old Germanic tribes. The most widely spoken Germanic languages are English and German, with approximately 300-400 million and over 100 million native speakers respectively. They belong to the West Germanic family. The West Germanic group also includes other major languages such as Dutch with 23 million and Afrikaans with over 6 million native speakers. The North Germanic languages include Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic and Faroese, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers. The SIL Ethnologue lists 53 different Germanic Languages.

8. Celtic.
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic or Common Celtic a branch of the greater Indo-European language family. Celtic languages are most commonly spoken in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, Cornwall and the Isle of Man and can be found spoken on Cape Breton Island. Some people speak Celtic languages in the other areas of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. During the 1st millennium BC, they were spoken across Europe. The spread to Cape Breton and Patagonia occurred in modern times. Celtic languages particularly Irish, were spoken in Australia before federation in 1901 and are still used there to some extent. Taken together, there were roughly one million native speakers of the Celtic languages which are increasing day by day.