CKM 2018-19 / Aziz Yardımlı




"Dil aileleri" sözcüklerin benzerliğine göre, sözdizimi benzerliğine göre belirlenir. Sözcük benzerlikleri pekala olumsal olabilir ve sözdizimlerinin hangisinin daha geçerli ya da daha uygun vb. olduğunu ölçülmesini sağlayacak herhangi bir ölçüt yoktur.


Dilin toplumsal olarak öğretildiğini düşünenler hiç kuşkusuz görgül olarak doğru düşünmektedirler. Ama bu açıklama toplumun kendisine dilin nasıl öğretildiğini açıklamaz.


Human Language Families Map

Human Language Families Map (W)

Description This map shows the world's language families.
Date 14 February 2005 (original upload date)

Language family (W)

A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a biological family tree, or in a subsequent modification, to species in a phylogenetic tree of evolutionary taxonomy. Linguists therefore describe the daughter languages within a language family as being genetically related.

A "living language" is simply one that is used as the primary form of communication of a group of people. There are also many dead and extinct languages, as well as some that are still insufficiently studied to be classified, or are even unknown outside their respective speech communities.

Membership of languages in a language family is established by comparative linguistics. Sister languages are said to have a "genetic" or "genealogical" relationship. The latter term is older. Speakers of a language family belong to a common speech community. The divergence of a proto-language into daughter languages typically occurs through geographical separation, with the original speech community gradually evolving into distinct linguistic units. Individuals belonging to other speech communities may also adopt languages from a different language family through the language shift process.

Genealogically related languages present shared retentions; that is, features of the proto-language (or reflexes of such features) that cannot be explained by chance or borrowing (convergence). Membership in a branch or group within a language family is established by shared innovations; that is, common features of those languages that are not found in the common ancestor of the entire family. For example, Germanic languages are "Germanic" in that they share vocabulary and grammatical features that are not believed to have been present in the Proto-Indo-European language. These features are believed to be innovations that took place in Proto-Germanic, a descendant of Proto-Indo-European that was the source of all Germanic languages.

Türeyişsel olarak ilişkili diller ön-dilde (proto-language) bulunmadığına inanılan sözel ve dilbilgisel özellikler kapsar. (Örneğin Germanik dilleri "Germanik" yapan etmen köken dilde bulunmayan bu yeni özelliklerdir.)



Primary Human Language Families Map

Primary Human Language Families Map (W)

English: Modified version of File:Human Language Families Map.PNG that shows only primary language families.
Date 14 March 2013, 22:05:51

Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages


Indo-European branches map (W)

English: A map showing the approximate present-day distribution of the Indo-European branches within their homelands of Europe and Asia. The following legend is given in the chronological order of the earliest surviving written attestations of each branch:

Italic (includes Romance) [3]
Non-Indo-European languages

Dotted/striped areas indicate where multilingualism is common (more visible upon full enlargement of the map).
Date 20 October 2015



For the names of the branches, see citations in legend (based on "Indo-European Languages". The College of Liberal Arts. UT Austin. 2008.) and "Indo-European languages" from Britannica.com.

The distribution is essentially and approximately based on the map "Indo-European languages – Approximate locations of Indo-European languages in contemporary Eurasia" from Britannica.com, although with the following minor modifications:

The two articles "Balto-Slavic languages" and "Indo-Iranian languages" from Britannica.com stress the lack of scholarly consensus on these branches. That is, for the former, whether Baltic and Slavic developed from a common ancestral language, or that the similarities are the result of parallel development and of mutual influence during a long period of contact. To cater for both scholarly viewpoints, this map shows Baltic and Slavic with two distinct shades of green under "Balto-Slavic". For the latter, the dispute is whether the Indo-Iranian languages include just the Iranian and Indo-Aryan (or, Indic) language groups, or Nūristānī and Bangani too. To prevent disagreement (and also because this map only represents the primary branches of Indo-European), all of Indo-Iranian is represented with one shade.

The article "Romance languages" from Britannica.com states that the Romance languages form "a subgroup of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family".

It should be noted that this map is only approximative and simplified, and glosses over some multilingual areas (particularly in eastern Russia, which is difficult to represent accurately). For some areas, more regional maps have been used as sources for greater accuracy, namely "Languages of Switzerland" from Ethnologue.com, "Russia ethnic plurality" from Freelang.net, "Major ethnic groups in Central Asia" from Globalsecurity.org, and "South Asian Language Families" from "Language families and branches, languages and dialects in A Historical Atlas of South Asia". Oxford University Press. New York 1992.

Author Hayden120


Partial tree of Indo-European languages (W)

  • Branches are in order of first attestation; those to the left are Centum, those to the right are Satem.
  • Languages in red are extinct or dead.
  • White labels indicate categories / un-attested proto-languages.

Indo-European Languages

Indo-European Languages — 1 (LINK)

The Indo-European languages are a family of related languages that today are widely spoken in the Americas, Europe, and also Western and Southern Asia. Just as languages such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian are all descended from Latin, Indo-European languages are believed to derive from a hypothetical language known as Proto-Indo-European, which is no longer spoken.

It is highly probable that the earliest speakers of this language originally lived around Ukraine and neighbouring regions in the Caucasus and Southern Russia, then spread to most of the rest of Europe and later down into India. The earliest possible end of Proto-Indo-European linguistic unity is believed to be around 3400 BCE.

Since the speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language did not develop a writing system, we have no physical evidence of it. The science of linguistics has been trying to reconstruct the Proto-Indo-European language using several methods and, although an accurate reconstruction of it seems impossible, we have today a general picture of what Proto-Indo-European speakers had in common, both linguistically and culturally. In addition to the use of comparative methods, there are studies based on the comparison of myths, laws, and social institutions.

Branches of Indo-European Languages

The Indo-European languages have a large number of branches: Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, Greek, Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Armenian, Tocharian, Balto-Slavic and Albanian.


This branch of languages was predominant in the Asian portion of Turkey and some areas in northern Syria. The most famous of these languages is Hittite. In 1906 CE, a large amount of Hittite finds were made on the site of Hattusas, the capital of the Hittite Kingdom, where about 10,000 cuneiform tablets and various other fragments were found in the remains of a royal archive. These texts date back to the mid to late second millennium BCE. Luvian, Palaic, Lycian, and Lydian are other examples of families belonging to this group.

All languages of this branch are currently extinct. This branch has the oldest surviving evidence of an Indo-European language, dated about 1800 BCE.


This branch includes two sub-branches: Indic and Iranian. Today these languages are predominant in India, Pakistan, Iran, and its vicinity and also in areas from the Black Sea to western China.

Sanskrit, which belongs to the Indic sub-branch, is the best known among the early languages of this branch; its oldest variety, Vedic Sanskrit, is preserved in the Vedas, a collection of hymns and other religious texts of ancient India. Indic speakers entered into the Indian subcontinent, coming from central Asia around 1500 BCE: In the Rig-Veda, the hymn 1.131 speaks about a legendary journey that may be considered a distant memory of this migration.

Avestan is a language that forms part of the Iranian group. Old Avestan (sometimes called Gathic Avestan) is the oldest preserved language of the Iranian sub-branch, the “sister” of Sanskrit, which is the language used in the early Zoroastrian religious texts. Another important language of the Iranian sub-branch is Old Persian, which is the language found in the royal inscriptions of the Achaemenid dynasty, starting in the late 6th century BCE. The earliest datable evidence of this branch dates back to about 1300 BCE.

Today, many Indic languages are spoken in India and Pakistan, such as Hindi-Urdu, Punjabi, and Bengali. Iranian languages such as Farsi (modern Persian), Pashto, and Kurdish are spoken in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan.


Rather than a branch of languages, Greek is a group of dialects: During more than 3000 years of written history, Greek dialects never evolved into mutually incomprehensible languages. Greek was predominant in the southern end of the Balkans, the Peloponnese peninsula, and the Aegean Sea and its vicinity. The earliest surviving written evidence of a Greek language is Mycenaean, the dialect of the Mycenaean civilization, mainly found on clay tablets and ceramic vessels on the isle of Crete. Mycenaean did not have an alphabetic written system, rather it had a syllabic script known as the Linear B script.

The first alphabetic inscriptions have been dated back to the early 8th century BCE, which is probably the time when the Homeric epics, the Iliad and the Odyssey, reached their present form. There were many Greek dialects in ancient times, but because of Athens cultural supremacy in the 5th century BCE, it was the Athens dialect, called Attic, the one that became the standard literary language during the Classical period (480-323 BCE). Therefore, the most famous Greek poetry and prose written in Classical times were written in Attic: Aristophanes, Aristotle, Euripides, and Plato are just a few examples of authors who wrote in Attic.


This branch was predominant in the Italian peninsula. The Italic people were not natives of Italy; they entered Italy crossing the Alps around 1000 BCE and gradually moved southward. Latin, the most famous language in this group, was originally a relatively small local language spoken by pastoral tribes living in small agricultural settlements in the centre of the Italian peninsula. The first inscriptions in Latin appeared in the 7th century BCE and by the 6th century BCE it had spread significantly.

Rome was responsible for the growth of Latin in ancient times. Classical Latin is the form of Latin used by the most famous works of Roman authors like Ovid, Cicero, Seneca, Pliny, and Marcus Aurelius. Other languages of this branch are: Faliscan, Sabellic, Umbrian, South Picene, and Oscan, all of them extinct.

Today Romance languages are the only surviving descendants of the Italic branch.


This branch contains two sub-branches: Continental Celtic and Insular Celtic. By about 600 BCE, Celtic-speaking tribes had spread from what today are southern Germany, Austria, and Western Czech Republic in almost all directions, to France, Belgium, Spain, and the British Isles, then by 400 BCE, they also moved southward into northern Italy and southeast into the Balkans and even beyond. During the early 1st century BCE, Celtic-speaking tribes dominated a very significant portion of Europe. On 50 BCE, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (ancient France) and Britain was also conquered about a century later by the emperor Claudius. As a result, this large Celtic-speaking area was absorbed by Rome, Latin became the dominant language, and the Continental Celtic languages eventually died out. The chief Continental language was Gaulish.

Insular Celtic developed in the British Isles after Celtic-speaking tribes entered around the 6th century BCE. In Ireland, Insular Celtic flourished, aided by the geographical isolation which kept Ireland relatively safe from the Roman and Anglo-Saxon invasion.

The only Celtic languages still spoken today (Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton) all come from Insular Celtic.


The Germanic branch is divided in three sub-branches: East Germanic, currently extinct; North Germanic, containing Old Norse, the ancestor of all modern Scandinavian languages; and West Germanic, containing Old English, Old Saxon, and Old High German.

The earliest evidence of Germanic-speaking people dates back to first half of the 1st millennium BCE, and they lived in an area stretching from southern Scandinavia to the coast of the North Baltic Sea. During prehistoric times, the Germanic speaking tribes came into contact with Finnic speakers in the north and also with Balto-Slavic tribes in the east. As a result of this interaction, the Germanic language borrowed several terms from Finnish and Balto-Slavic.

Several varieties of Old Norse were spoken by most Vikings. Native Nordic pre-Christian Germanic mythology and folklore has been also preserved in Old Norse, in a dialect named Old Icelandic.

Dutch, English, Frisian, and Yiddish are some examples of modern survivors of the West Germanic sub-branch, while Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish are survivors of the North Germanic branch.


The origins of the Armenian-speaking people is a topic still unresolved. It is probable that the Armenians and the Phrygians belonged to the same migratory wave that entered Anatolia, coming from the Balkans around the late 2nd millennium BCE. The Armenians settled in an area around Lake Van, currently Turkey; this region belonged to the state of Urartu during the early 1st millennium BCE. In the 8th century BCE, Urartu came under Assyrian control and in the 7th century BCE, the Armenians took over the region. The Medes absorbed the region soon after and Armenia became a vassal state. During the time of the Achaemenid Empire, the region turned into a Persian satrap. The Persian domination had a strong linguistic impact on Armenian, which mislead many scholars in the past to believe that Armenian actually belonged to the Iranian group.


The history of the Tocharian-speaking people is still surrounded by mystery. We know that they lived in the Taklamakan Desert, located in western China. Most of the Tocharian texts left are translations from well-known Buddhist works, and all of these texts have been dated between the 6th and the 8th centuries CE. None of these texts speak about the Tocharians themselves. Two different languages belong to this branch: Tocharian A and Tocharian B. Remains of the Tocharian A language have only been found in places where Tocharian B documents have also been found, which would suggest that Tocharian A was already extinct, kept alive only as a religious or poetic language, while Tocharian B was the living language used for administrative purposes.

Many well-preserved mummies with Caucasoid features such as tall stature, red, blonde, and brown hair, have been discovered in the Taklamakan Desert, dating between 1800 BCE to 200 CE. The weaving style and patterns of their clothes is similar to the Hallstatt culture in central Europe. Physical analysis and genetic evidence have revealed resemblances with the inhabitants of western Eurasia.

This branch is completely extinct. Among all ancient Indo-European languages, Tocharian was spoken farthest to the east.


This branch contains two sub-branches: Baltic and Slavic.

During the late Bronze Age, the Balts' territory may have stretched from around western Poland all the way across to the Ural Mountains. Afterwards, the Balts occupied a small region along the Baltic Sea. Those in the northern part of the territory occupied by the Balts were in close contact with Finnic tribes, whose language was not part of the Indo-European language family: Finnic speakers borrowed a considerable amount of Baltic words, which suggests that the Balts had an important cultural prestige in that area. Under the pressure of Gothic and Slavic migrations, the territory of the Balts was reduced towards the 5th century CE.

Archaeological evidence shows that from 1500 BCE, either the Slavs or their ancestors occupied an area stretching from near the western Polish borders towards the Dnieper River in Belarus. During the 6th century CE, the Slav-speaking tribes expanded their territory, migrating into Greece and the Balkans: this is when they are mentioned for the first time, in Byzantine records referring to this large migration. Either some or all of the Slavs were once located further to the east, in or around Iranian territory, since many Iranian words were borrowed into pre-Slavic at an early stage. Later on, as they moved westward, they came into contact with German tribes and again borrowed several additional terms.

Only two Baltic languages survive today: Latvian and Lithuanian. A large number of Slavic languages survive today, such as Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, Polish, Serbian, Slovak, Russian, and many others.


Albanian is the last branch of Indo-European languages to appear in written form. There are two hypotheses on the origin of Albanian. The first one says that Albanian is a modern descendant of Illyrian, a language which was widely spoken in the region during classical times. Since we know very little about Illyrian, this assertion can be neither denied nor confirmed from a linguistic standpoint. From a historical and geographical perspective, however, this assertion makes sense. Another hypotheses says that Albanian is a descendant of Thracian, another lost language that was spoken farther east than Illyrian.

Today Albanian is spoken in Albania as the official language, in several other areas in of the former Yugoslavia and also in small enclaves in southern Italy, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

Unaffiliated Languages

All languages in this group are either extinct or they are a former stage of a modern language. Examples of this groups of languages are Phrygian, Thracian, Ancient Macedonian (not to be confused with Macedonian, a language currently spoken in the Republic of Macedonia, part of the Slavic branch), Illyrian, Venetic, Messapic, and Lusitanian.

Indo-European Historical Linguistics

In ancient times it was noticed that some languages presented striking similarities: Greek and Latin are a well-known example. During classical antiquity it was noted, for example, that Greek héks “six” and heptá “seven” were similar to the Latin sex and septem. Furthermore, the regular correspondence of the initial h- in Greek to the initial s- in Latin was pointed out.

The explanation that the ancients came up with was that the Latin language was a descendant of Greek language. Centuries later, during and after the Renaissance, the close similarities between more languages were also noted, and it was understood that certain groups of languages were related, such as Icelandic and English, and also the Romance languages. Despite all of these observations, the science of linguistics did not develop much further until the 18th century CE.

During the British colonial expansion into India, a British orientalist and jurist named Sir William Jones became familiar with the Sanskrit language. Jones was also knowledgeable in Greek and Latin and was surprised by the similarities between these three languages. During a lecture on February 2, 1786 CE, Sir William Jones expressed his new ideas:

The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and the Celtic, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit; and the old Persian might be added to the same family, if this were the place for discussing any question concerning the antiquity of Persia. (Fortson, p. 9)

The idea that Greek, Latin, Sanskrit, and Persian were derived from a common source was revolutionary at that time. This was a turning point in the history of linguistics. Rather than the “daughter” of Greek, Latin was for the first time understood as the “sister” of Greek. By becoming familiar with Sanskrit, a language geographically far removed from Greek and Latin, and realizing that chance was an insufficient explanation for the similarities between these languages, Sir William Jones presented a new insight which triggered the development of modern linguistics.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.


About the Author

Cristian Violatti is an independent author, public speaker, and former editor of Ancient History Encyclopedia with a passion for archaeology and ancient history.


A History of Indo-Europeans, Migrations and Language

Indo-European Languages — 2 (LINK)

Central Asia

A History of Indo-Europeans, Migrations and Language

by Edward Dawson, 17 October 2015

Those peoples who are now known as Indo-Europeans (IEs) were the most widely ranging ethnic group in ancient times. Due to their existence on the steppes as cattle and horse raising people, they were quite mobile — a characteristic which they shared with other steppe nomads such as the Turkic and Hunnic peoples.


Indo-European is proposed to be a member of a much older macro family called Nostratic.

This includes the Uralic, Altaic and Kartvelian languages, and with a lower probability also languages spoken in India, North Africa, and the Arabian peninsula. Kartvelian-speaking tribes would have been close neighbours to the original Indo-Europeans in the Caucasian Mountains — the apparent difference between them would be that Kartvelian speakers stayed home in the mountains, while Indo-European speakers expanded.

This expansion was almost certainly caused by the adoption of horse-drawn wagons by the Indo-Europeans. This led to led to the use of chariots in war, and finally to riding horses for various purposes.

There are various theories about the precise location of their original homeland. A personal leaning is for the most probable theory, that they were originally located somewhere on the northern edge of the Caucasus Mountains. These form a range of peaks that sits between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and which today is largely within the borders of Georgia and the southern tip of Russia. The IEs then expanded out from there, most of them going north into the steppes.


Map 1: The northern edge of the Caucuses Mountains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea is the most probable homeland for the proto-Indo-Europeans, cut off as they would have been from their fellow Eurasiatic speakers (one branch of the post-glacial Nostratic language group). These other Eurasiatic speakers would have occupied large tracts of territory themselves, probably including the main inland regions between the two seas.


A History of Indo-Europeans, Migrations and Language


A full timeline of events can be seen in the accompanying list (see link in the sidebar, right). But a brief recap here would be useful. The separation of the proto-Indo-European (PIE) language from its parent Nostratic tongue took place approximately at the 6000 BC mark (see the first map, above).

One can speculate that this occurred via isolation in a mountainous region (hence favouring the Caucuses Mountains as a homeland). This would be prior to the 'Kurgan Hypothesis' homeland.[1]

The beginnings of Indo-European expansion took place around 4000 BC (see Map 2, below), and with it the beginning of areal dialects.[2] The Anatolian dialect began to move southwards, signifying the migration of one group of Indo-Europeans away from the rest. Most of the others appear to have begun an expansion northwards into the Pontic-Caspian steppe.

[1] The Kurgan Hypothesis homeland theory is the dominant theory to explain the migrations of Indo-Europeans and the early cultures that they formed.

Map of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan model. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area that may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC, and the orange area by 1000 BC.

[2] Areal dialects are a common language that is spread over a division of areas and spaces with regional differences emerging.


Was the horse domesticated and the horse-drawn wagon adopted at this time? This is the Kurgan Hypothesis homeland period, also known as the 'Pontic Steppe Hypothesis', with the majority of Indo-Europeans inhabiting the steppes to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The archaeological evidence so far is too inconclusive to provide a definite source of origin for the Indo-Europeans, and some of the more outlandish theories place it far away from this region, but the Pontic steppe is the favoured theory.

These early Indo-Europeans were identified by scholars with warrior pastoralists who built kurgan (burial mounds — a Turkic loan word in Russian which is often used to identify the Indo-Europeans prior to their expansion) in the steppes to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea in what is now southern Russia and Ukraine.

However, the core of this particular study focuses on the expansion as shown by language shifts rather than other means.


Map 2: The initial expansion of Indo-Europeans took place around 4000 BC, with one group heading southwards towards Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. The eastern route down the shores of the Caspian Sea used here is conjectural — they might just have easily used the western route down the Black Sea coast — but it's likely that the coastline offered the safest migratory route, travelling with horses and families and avoiding hostile populations inland. The main body expanded into the Pontic-Caspian steppe, a vast stretch of plains to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The South IEs probably remained in touch with their northern kin until around 3500 BC.

South IEs

The Anatolian branch of Indo-European language appears to have separated from the rest around 3500 BC; it retained many archaic features which were lost among the other branches of Indo-European, indicating a clear separation between the two branches at this time (south and north).

The ancestor tongue of Hatti (Hittite), Luwian (many sub-branches), Lydian, and Palaic migrated from the Indo-European homeland and moved south through the mountains. Eventually it reached the highlands of the Anatolian peninsula. From there the Hatti speakers (Hittites) manage to form an empire that encompassed most of Anatolia (although they were much later in establishing themselves than the Luwian-speakers).

Core IEs beginning to divide

Around 3000 BC, the remaining Indo-Europeans (now excluding the Anatolian branch) probably began the process of separating into definite proto languages which were not intelligible to each other. A western group would evolve into the Celtic, Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Ligurian, Vindelician/Liburnian and Raetic branches.


Map 3: The Indo-Europeans of the Pontic-Caspian steppe began to migrate out of their core territory around 3000 BC, while those who remained behind — the East IEs — eventually integrated themselves into the Oxus Civilisation and probably then supplied the Aryans of India and Iran.

Early in this western group's expansion, one tribe apparently made a U-turn and headed eastwards (which is easy enough to do when you are a steppe nomad!) to evolve into the Tocharian branch of Indo-Europeans.

A north-western branch began the German ethnic group. A northern branch founded what would become Baltic and Slavic peoples. Proto-Greeks formed a south-western branch, probably along with Thracians, Dacians, and Phrygians, all of which seem to have been related to the Armenians. An eastern, or 'stay at home' branch apparently calling themselves Arya or something similar formed the ancestors of Indians, Kurds, Iranians, Mannaeans, Medians, and related peoples.

Language division theories

There are two theories about the splitting of the proto-Indo-European language (PIE) into divergent languages. One is the tree theory, which illustrates them separating like the branches of a tree. The other is the wave theory, which indicates dialects in contact influencing their neighbours. Both theories would seem to be correct to some degree. In truth both would have happened depending on the degree of mutual contact and/or isolation.

Furthermore, there is evidence that branches which split apart in the manner of the tree model can adopt a linguistic trend or custom from each other. One of the most glaring examples of this would be the shift from PIE's ancestral 'kw' sound to 'p' in both Celtic and Italic tongues across a central area of Europe, something that was not adopted by geographically-isolated Celts in Spain and Ireland, or those Italics to the west of the Pennines.

Another is the satem/centum[3] split. For convenience, and no other reason, the tree model is used here. Whilst it is generally too simplistic for a complete explanation, using a wave model would make the branches incoherent.

[3] This term refers to the east/west split (respectively) in Indo-European language groups. The satem described all of the eastern IE language groups, and centum the western. This is discussed further in the 'Easternmost IEs' section, below.
These late Iron Age artefacts come from a Lithuanian cremation burial — descendants of North IEs,


North IEs

The 'leading edge' of the Balto-Slavic group seems to have become proto-Balts, and their southern relatives, proto-Slavs. These two moved north from the other Indo-Europeans, or were already somewhat to the north of them anyway, semi-isolated forest-dwellers. They appear to have moved into (or remained largely located within) forested river valleys during the early stages of IE migration and, if they ever had it, gave up the semi-nomadic or fully nomadic lifestyle as a result.

North-West IEs

The proto-Germans migrated into southern Scandinavia and the Jutland peninsula.

Some peculiarities that distinguish proto-Germanic from other Indo-European tongues may have been borrowed from Finnic languages. There also appears to have been heavy cultural contact with their neighbours to the immediate south, the Celts. They borrowed at least one deity (Taranis, better known as Thor). They also appear to borrowed a prominent peculiarity of pronunciation that was associated with the Celtic influence on their religion. The Celtic 'gw' or 'gu' instead of 'w' was adopted in speech, so that the word for a magician, 'wod/woth', became 'god/goth', meaning a deity. The 'gw' became 'g' and, in at least one recorded instance, a 'k', as the Baltic Sea was recorded by the Romans as the Codanus Sinus.

There appears to have been two conflicting groups of deities who were honoured by early Indo-Europeans; these are best known by their Vedic names of Devas and Asuras. Some cultures honoured both, but most chose one or the other as dominant one. The proto-Germans seem to have chosen the Asuras as dominant, under their dialectal variant 'Os', otherwise known as 'Aesir'.

West IEs

This language group dominated most of Europe in ancient times, and still does in western Europe. Its member languages are Celtic, Italic, Venetic, Illyrian, Ligurian, Vindelician/Liburnian, and Raetic branches. West Indo-Europeans are probably best known for their geographically wide-ranging group, the Celts, who in turn adopted Latin once they had been conquered by the Romans.

This group's most influential member language, however, is Latin, an Italic tongue that was spread across Europe by the Roman empire. Celtic tribes have been associated with Urnfield culture artefacts that began to appear around 1200 BC in central Europe, with the later Hallstatt culture which started around 800 BC, and also with the La Tène culture of around 450 BC.

Whilst these associations are not doubted here, readers should be cautious about merely accepting these defining labels. Celtic-speaking tribes were not limited to the regions within these material cultures and instead extended well beyond them. On the other hand, the Hallstatt material culture was also found in the Illyrian area of Eastern Europe, showing a wide range of settlement.

Movement of this group appears to have been almost exactly west from the ancestral homelands, with some bending of their path due to geography. A serious question would be why they came west. Were they pushed by other nomads, and if so, who? Peoples in the area might have been Iranian nomads or perhaps Thracians, such as the Cimmerians who originated on the steppes before moving south into Iran and Anatolia.

West-South-West IEs

Albanian appears to be an Indo-European dialect isolate. Its affinities appear to make no sense whatsoever, so the less said here about it the better. Any help in this area would be appreciated, so please get in touch. Whoever or whatever they were and are, they occupy the western coast just north of the Greeks.

South-West IEs

This language group seems to include both Greeks and Armenians; whether they split off from a more recent common ancestor than PIE, or were in close contact is debatable.

Also in this area were the Thracians, but their origin is even more debatable because they appear to have spoken a satem language rather than the centum one of their neighbours. A tidy assignment of their origin is impossible due to the uncertainty of their history. Were they a West IE people, perhaps Italics or Illyrians, who were taken over by an eastern, satem-speaking military elite, with their languages subsequently fusing? Also tentatively placed in this group are Dacians and Phrygians.

The 'Mask of Agamemnon' was so named by Heinrich Schliemann, perhaps optimistically, but this is a prime example of Mycenaean work — descendants of South-West IEs


South IEs

These are the Anatolian languages, the first to split off from PIE. The best known is Hittite, which also included Luwian, Palaic, Lydian, and Lycian. This is the group that appears to have abandoned the steppes at the earliest date, and yet historical records indicate that they had the same highly mobile horse-borne habits as the other Indo-Europeans. They fought from chariots and attacked south from Anatolia into Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Easternmost IEs

The Tocharians appear to have a very odd history. Their language shows elements of both eastern and western influences, which raises the question of whether they began as a Western IE group (or a conquering core of Western IE warriors) that went eastwards and either assimilated another tribe or other tribes, or were in heavy contact with them. A case could even be made for them being an Anatolian language group or being in heavy contact with the Anatolian group.

An intriguing possibility is that they are a hybrid people made up of elements of multiple groups. The curious thing about Tocharian is that it is a centum language — just like IE languages in the west — but it is the easternmost of the IE languages.

This is the centum/satem split.

So this gives us two possibilities: either the satem (eastern) pronunciation was adopted in the old homeland of Indo-Europeans after the mass departure of peoples to the west into Europe who became Celts and Germans, and to the far east by the proto-Tocharians; or the centum/satem split is a west/east split and the west-speaking Tocharians performed a u-turn.

The former seems to be the prevailing argument currently. However, the latter is favoured here because Anatolian was the first group to detach itself from the main core of Indo-Europeans and this seems to be a satem group.

This would mean that PIE was originally satem. What is certain is that Tocharians did borrow heavily from other languages because we find Sanskrit words they adopted due to their Buddhist religion. Could Tocharian be heavily hybridised in the manner of English with its large French vocabulary, and religious-adopted Latin vocabulary?

A website named The United Sites of Indo-Europeans (see links) says:

  • This group is perhaps the least studied in all [of the] Indo-European macro-family. It consists of two dead languages, Tocharian A (or Agnean) and Tocharian B (or Kuchanian), spoken in the first millennium AD in East Turkestan, in several [oases in which] inscriptions and texts written in [these languages] were found.
  • The [routes and methods used in] Tocharic migrations from [the] Middle East to East Asia are still unknown. The languages show many borrowings from early Iranian languages, archaic Finno-Ugric, and even Tibetan-like forms, but the structure itself shows much similarity first of all with Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages. Linguists think Tocharians moved through Central Asia from west to east and, on their way, had many linguistic contacts reflected in their tongue. Before these migrations, [it] being a dialect in [the] proto-Indo-European community, Tocharians must have communicated closely with future Anatolians and Italo-Celts.[4]


[4] Of great personal fascination to the present author is the fact that one of the Cimmerian kings was named Tugdamme, which is a near-perfect analogue for the name Togodumnus of the Catuvellauni in Britain. Is Tugdamme a Celtic name that was used by the Cimmerians? Or perhaps a Tocharian pronunciation with the same meaning? Tug/Togos is a deity name, more familiar as Dagda and meaning shining like the sun (cognate with the English word 'day'). Damme/Dumnus is often defined as meaning 'world', but far more likely it is a cognate of the Latin Dominus and means either 'dominant' or 'dominated', probably the latter in this case. Celtic name constructions often use a deity name along with other words indicating 'beloved by', 'dog of', 'servant of', etc. In this case it would be roughly 'ruled by' the deity Togos.

Were the Cimmerians a group of Thracians or Iranians who were ruled by a Celtic or Tocharian elite?


East (Homeland) IEs

What in the past were called Aryans are now known as Indo-Iranians and Indo-Aryans — the original term has bad connotations due to its use by the Nazis.

They appear to have been the group that remained where they were in the old homeland, in the steppes to the north of the Caucasus. They also appear to have stayed longer than any ancient group in the 'secondary homeland' to the north of the Black Sea, which is just west of their primary homeland in the upper Caucasus.

There is some evidence in names to show that people using a language which was related to Vedic and Avesta lived to the north of the Black Sea; and various groups of Iranian nomads also occupied that area for a very long time.

The group split into two related linguistic groups, one we call Iranian, and the other Indian; both appear to have lived to the north of the Black Sea (some of the people in this region were known in classical antiquity as Scythians and Sarmatians). In addition to the steppes they expanded into modern Afghanistan, Iran, India, Pakistan, and the hill country of Syria and eastern Turkey.

Along the way they integrated themselves into the Oxus civilisation of around 2200-1700 BC and were probably also responsible for the 'spiral cities' of the Kazakhstan steppe. It seems more likely that 'integrated' is correct rather than 'founded'. IE nomads did not apparently build cities; they conquered or infiltrated into a material culture that itself built cities. The Oxus civilisation people (indigenes, meaning the original natives of that area, equating to aborigines) were probably in conflict (at war) with the IEs of the Andronovo horizon. In time they probably did become IEs due to IE settlement amongst them, but this would have been in the manner of Greece being occupied by the proto-Mycenaeans: the language may have changed but the gene pool would have remained mostly indigene.

As nomads they were quite mobile, ranging as far as China in the east where they were known as eastern Saka (Scythians), to Spain in the west where they were known as Alans (the word is an altered form of Arya).

Some of these Alans accompanied the Vandals into North Africa, settling with them in Tunisia. Their language fragmented into dialects just like all the others, but in this case there is evidence of heavy contact with non-IE languages, particularly from other nomads. There appears to have been heavy contact between Alans and proto-Bulgarians. For instance, the ruler of the Alans bore the proto-Bulgarian (originally Mongol language) title of 'khan' (see the link for Proto-Bulgarian Runic Inscriptions in the sidebar).

As settled farmers, the Indian group moved into modern Pakistan and India; and the settled Iranians moved into modern Iran, eastern Turkey and nearby areas.

One tribe, or dialect group seem actually to have stayed close to the original homeland, and are today's Ossetians.


Professor Gennady Zdanovich has recently (2010) made fresh discoveries on the modern Kazakhstan steppe of Bronze Age 'spiral' cities which exhibit many signs of having been built and used by Indo-Europeans, having been built around 2000 BC


Bear in mind the fact that the timelines given above are conjectural in most cases; the farther back in time one goes, the fewer written records can be used. By necessity the estimates used above are rough — they may be right or they may be wrong — and in either case exact dates seem impossible to prove beyond doubt.

What seems certain is that the Indo-Europeans started out as a numerically small group, possibly or even probably in some sort of isolation, who then entered the steppes and at some point became nomadic via horse-drawn wheeled vehicles. From that action alone, the Indo-Europeans can be regarded as possibly the first militarily aggressive nomadic people on the Eurasian continent, and certainly the first successful one.

As such they had a terrible advantage over the isolated tribes and organised civilisations that they encountered: they could appear out of apparently nowhere and attack, and if they didn't win could simply roll away in their chariots and carts, out of reach of sedentary peoples to attack again somewhere else or later at the same spot. Not until other nomads such as Huns and Mongols developed and expanded was this advantage duplicated. The Indo-Europeans had mixed success in Asia; but in Europe, with no steppes, they took almost everything they encountered.

Indo-Europeans remained militarily aggressive and eventually controlled most of the planet, which was only partially rolled back in modern times as other peoples acquired advanced military and industrial technology. Their contribution to worldwide civilisation has been considerable.


Online Sources

Proto-Bulgarian Runic Inscriptions:

Studies in the History and Language of the Sarmatians:

Linguistics Research Center, University of Texas at Austin:

Indo-European Chronology — Countries and Peoples

Indo-European Etymological Dictionary (J Pokorny):



Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages (W)

Indo-European languages (W)

The Indo-European languages are a language family of several hundred related languages and dialects.[2]

There are about 445 living Indo-European languages, according to the estimate by Ethnologue, with over two thirds (313) of them belonging to the Indo-Iranian branch.[3] The most widely spoken Indo-European languages by native speakers are Spanish, Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu), English, Portuguese, Bengali, Punjabi, and Russian, each with over 100 million speakers, with German, French, Marathi, Italian, and Persian also having more than 50 million. Today, nearly 42% of the human population (3.2 billion) speaks an Indo-European language as a first language, by far the highest of any language family.

The Indo-European family includes most of the modern languages of Europe; notable exceptions include Hungarian, Turkish, Finnish, Estonian, Basque, Maltese, and Sami. The Indo-European family is also represented in Asia with the exception of East and Southeast Asia. It was predominant in ancient Anatolia (present-day Turkey), the ancient Tarim Basin (present-day Northwest China) and most of Central Asia until the medieval Turkic and Mongol invasions. With written evidence 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 Afroasiatic family, although certain language isolates, such as Sumerian, Elamite, Hurrian, Hattian, and Kassite are recorded earlier.

All Indo-European languages are descendants of a single prehistoric language, reconstructed as Proto-Indo-European, spoken sometime in the Neolithic era. Although no written records remain, aspects of the culture and religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans can also be reconstructed from the related cultures of ancient and modern Indo-European speakers who continue to live in areas to where the Proto-Indo-Europeans migrated from their original homeland.[citation needed] Several disputed proposals link Indo-European to other major language families. Although they are written in Semitic Old Assyrian, the Hittite loanwords and names found in the Kültepe texts are the oldest record of any Indo-European language.[4]




The branches of the Altaic language family

The branches of the Altaic language family (W)


Altaic languages

Altaic languages (W)

Altaic is a hypothetical language family of central Eurasia and Siberia first proposed in the 18th century, but whose existence is widely discredited among comparative linguists. The Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic groups are invariably included in the family; some authors added Koreanic and the Japonic languages. The latter expanded grouping came to be known as "Macro-Altaic", leading to the designation of the smaller former grouping as "Micro-Altaic" by retronymy. Most proponents of Altaic continue to support the inclusion of Korean. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from Eastern Europe through Anatolia and eastern Caucasus through North Asia and Central Asia to the Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago in East Asia. The group is named after the Altai mountain range in the center of Asia.

The hypothesis of common origin for some or all of these languages—that is, the theory that they form a language family—was widespread before the 1960s, but has almost no supporters among specialists today. Opponents of the Altaic hypothesis maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists. As for Turkic, Tungusic, and Mongolic, if they were related genetically, earlier forms would be closer than modern forms. This is true for all accepted linguistic families. However, an analysis of the earliest written records of Mongolic and Turkic languages shows fewer similarities rather than more, which suggests that they do not share a common ancestor but rather have become more similar through language contact and areal effects. Because of this, most modern linguists do not accept the Altaic family.




Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages

Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages (W)

Ural-Altaic languages

Ural-Altaic languages (W)

Ural–Altaic, Uralo-Altaic or Uraltaic, also known as Turanian, is an obsolete language-family proposal uniting the Uralic and the widely discredited Altaic languages.

Originally suggested in the 18th century, the hypothesis remained debated into the mid-20th century, often with disagreements exacerbated by pan-nationalist agendas. It had many proponents in Britain. Since the 1960s, the hypothesis has been widely rejected. From the 1990s, interest in a relationship between the Altaic, Indo-European and Uralic families has been revived in the context of the Eurasiatic linguistic superfamily hypothesis. Bomhard (2008) treats Uralic, Altaic and Indo-European as Eurasiatic daughter groups on equal footing.

Both Ural-Altaic and Altaic remain relevant — and still insufficiently understood — concepts of areal linguistics and typology, even if in a genetic sense these terms might be considered as obsolete.


  • Deutsch: Karte der geographischen Verteilung der Altaischen Sprachen, der Turksprachen und der Uralischen Sprachen
  • English: Linguistic map of the Altaic, Turkic and Uralic languages


Linguistic map of the Uralic languages

Linguistic map of the Uralic languages (W)

  • Deutsch: Karte der geographischen Verteilung der Uralischen Sprachen
  • English: Linguistic maps of the Uralic languages
Date August 2008
  Linguistic map of the Uralic languages (modified)] [This map is is a derivative work from File:Linguistic map of the Uralic languages.png by cropping off the Yukaghir languges. This was done, because according to the current view of the vast majority of fennougrists Yukaghir ("Jukagrisch") is not part of the uralic language family.]

Uralic peoples

Uralic peoples (W)

Distribution of Uralic peoples

Total population ~26,554,700
Regions with significant populations Russia, Hungary, Finland, Estonia, Scandinavia
Languages Uralic languages
Religion various Christian faiths, Shamanism, Uralic Neopaganism

The Uralic peoples or Uralic speaking peoples are the peoples speaking Uralic languages, divided into two large groups: Finno-Ugric peoples and Samoyedic peoples. The Samoyeds consists of Northern Samoyed: Nenets, Enets and Nganasan, and Southern Samoyed: Selkup and now extinct Sayan Samoyed. The Finno-Ugric group contains two branches: Ugric including Ob-Ugric peoples i.e. the Mansi and Khanty and the Hungarians. The Finnic group has four sub-divisions: The Sami, The Baltic Finns: Finns proper, Karelians, Ingrians, Vepsians, Votians, Estonians and Livonians, and the Volga Finns: the Mordvins subdivided into Moksha and Erza and the Mari, and the Permians.

Finno-Ugric peoples

Finno-Ugric peoples (W)

The Finno-Ugric peoples are any of several peoples of North-West Eurasia who speak languages of the Finno-Ugric group of the Uralic language family, such as the Khanty, Mansi, Hungarians, Maris, Mordvins, Sámi, Estonians, Karelians, Finns, Udmurts, and Komis.

The four most numerous Finno-Ugric peoples are the Hungarians (13–14 million), Finns (6–7 million), Estonians (1.1 million) and Mordvins (744,000). The first three of these have their own independent states – Hungary, Finland, and Estonia. The traditional area of the indigenous Sami people is in Northern Fenno-Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula in Northwest Russia and is known as Sápmi.

Some other Finno-Ugric peoples have autonomous republics in Russia: Karelians (Republic of Karelia), Komi (Komi Republic), Udmurts (Udmurt Republic), Mari (Mari El Republic), and Mordvins (Moksha and Erzya; Republic of Mordovia).

Khanty and Mansi peoples live in Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Okrug of Russia. Komi subgroup Komi-Permyaks used to live in Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug, but today this area is a territory with special status within Perm Krai.


Geographical distribution of Samoyedic, Finnic, Ugric and Yukaghir peoples

Finno-Ugric peoples
Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States
Finno-Ugric languages: Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian
various Christian faiths, Shamanism and Animism
Related ethnic groups
Samoyedic peoples



China Linguistic Map

China Linguistic Map (W)




Centum and satem languages

Centum and satem languages (W)

Map showing the approximate extent of the centum (blue) and satem (red) areals. The origin of satemization according to von Bradke's hypothesis is shown in darker red (marked as the range of the Sintashta/Abashevo/Srubna archaeological cultures), but that hypothesis is not accepted by the majority of linguists.

Indoeuropean Language around 2500 Before Present = 500 Before Christ. Centum languages are in blue, Satem languages are in red

Languages of the Indo-European family are classified as either centum languages or satem languages according to how the dorsal consonants (sounds of "K" and "G" type) of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language (PIE) developed. An example of the different developments is provided by the words for "hundred" found in the early attested Indo-European languages. In centum languages, they typically began with a /k/ sound (Latin centum was pronounced with initial /k/), but in satem languages, they often began with /s/ (the example satem comes from the Avestan language of Zoroastrian scripture).

The centum–satem division forms an isogloss in synchronic descriptions of Indo-European languages. It is no longer thought that the Proto-Indo-European language split first into centum and satem branches from which all the centum and all the satem languages, respectively, would have derived. Such a division is made particularly unlikely by the discovery that while the satem group lies generally to the east and the centum group to the west, the most eastward of the known IE language branches, Tocharian, is centum.

The canonical centum languages of the Indo-European family are the "western" branches: Hellenic, Celtic, Italic and Germanic. They merged Proto-Indo-European palatovelars and plain velars, yielding plain velars only ("centumisation") but retained the labiovelars as a distinct set.

The Anatolian branch probably falls outside the centum–satem dichotomy; for instance, Luwian indicates that all three dorsal consonant rows survived separately in Proto-Anatolian. The centumisation observed in Hittite is therefore assumed to have occurred only after the breakup of Proto-Anatolian.

The satem languages belong to the "eastern" sub-families, especially Indo-Iranian and Balto-Slavic (but not Tocharian). It lost the labial element of Proto-Indo-European labiovelars and merged them with plain velars, but the palatovelars remained distinct and typically came to be realised as sibilants. That set of developments, particularly the assibilation of palatovelars, is referred to as satemisation.

Some linguists claim that the Albanian[8] and Armenian[citation needed] branches are also classified as satem, but some linguists claim that they show evidence of separate treatment of all three dorsal consonant rows and so may not have merged the labiovelars with the plain velars, unlike the canonical satem branches.


Kurgan hypothesis

Kurgan hypothesis (W)

Map of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan model. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area that may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC, and the orange area by 1000 BC.

The Kurgan hypothesis (also known as the Kurgan theory or Kurgan model) or steppe theory is the most widely accepted proposal to identify the Proto-Indo-European homeland from which the Indo-European languages spread out throughout Europe, Eurasia and parts of Asia.[a][b] It postulates that the people of a Kurgan culture in the Pontic steppe north of the Black Sea were the most likely speakers of the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). The term is derived from the Russian kurgan (курган), meaning tumulus or burial mound.

The Kurgan hypothesis was first formulated in the 1950s by Marija Gimbutas, who used the term to group various cultures, including the Yamna, or Pit Grave, culture and its predecessors. David Anthony instead uses the core Yamna culture and its relationship with other cultures as a point of reference.

Marija Gimbutas defined the Kurgan culture as composed of four successive periods, with the earliest (Kurgan I) including the Samara and Seroglazovo cultures of the DnieperVolga region in the Copper Age (early 4th millennium BC). The people of these cultures were nomadic pastoralists, who, according to the model, by the early 3rd millennium BC had expanded throughout the Pontic–Caspian steppe and into Eastern Europe.

Three genetic studies in 2015 gave partial support to Gimbutas's Kurgan theory regarding the Indo-European Urheimat. According to those studies, haplogroups R1b and R1a, now the most common in Europe (R1a is also common in South Asia) would have expanded from the Russian and Ukrainian steppes, along with the Indo-European languages; they also detected an autosomal component present in modern Europeans which was not present in Neolithic Europeans, which would have been introduced with paternal lineages R1b and R1a, as well as Indo-European languages.





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