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Indo-European Language Family

Sir William Jones, as a Supreme Court Justice in India, studied Sanskrit and was struck by the affinity among Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit. In 1786, in a paper delivered to the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal, he proposed that these languages, as well as Germanic and Celtic languages were descended from a common source, Indo-European (IE), which was probably spoken between 5,000 and 3,000 B.C.E.

Further Indo-European studies were conducted by Franz Bopp, 1816, who conducted comparisons of verbal systems of different languages; Rasmus Rask, who noticed systematic phonological changes (1818); A Schleicher, who made attempt to reconstruct pre-historic Indo-European forms.

Many scholars classify the Indo-European sub-branches into a Satem group and a Centum group (from the word for hundred in Latin and Avestan (old Persian)).

Satem denotes the group of Indo-European languages in which original velar stops became palatalized ([k] à [s] or [ʃ]). These languages belong to the Indic, Iranian, Armenian, Slavonic, Baltic, and Albanian branches and are traditionally regarded as the Eastern group.

Centum denotes Indo-European languages in which original velar stops ([k]) were not palatalized, namely languages of the Hellenic, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Anatolian, and Tocharian branches.


Figure 1

Indo-European languages tree



The IE family comprises some 140 languages out of a total of approximately 10,000 languages world-wide, yet it is believed that half of the people in the world speak an IE language.

Date: 2015-01-29; view: 2407

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