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Language Families
Language Families
Published: 2016/07/06
Channel: Jake Goldwasser
Language Families of the World
Language Families of the World
Published: 2013/11/09
Channel: Prasanna Patange
The Slavic Languages and What Makes Them a FAMILY
The Slavic Languages and What Makes Them a FAMILY
Published: 2016/03/03
Channel: Langfocus
How languages evolve - Alex Gendler
How languages evolve - Alex Gendler
Published: 2014/05/27
Channel: TED-Ed
Latin and Its Indo-European Language Family
Latin and Its Indo-European Language Family
Published: 2011/03/13
Channel: latintutorial
World Language Families (AP Human Geography)
World Language Families (AP Human Geography)
Published: 2015/10/27
Channel: Jenne Talbot
The Altaic Language Family Nation
The Altaic Language Family Nation
Published: 2015/02/11
Channel: SW Park
Uralic Language Family
Uralic Language Family
Published: 2013/06/09
Channel: Prasanna Patange
Language Isolates - Lonely Languages With No Family (Quick Video)
Language Isolates - Lonely Languages With No Family (Quick Video)
Published: 2016/03/18
Channel: Langfocus
Is English Really a Germanic Language?
Is English Really a Germanic Language?
Published: 2016/09/08
Channel: Langfocus
Animated map shows how Indo-European languages may have evolved
Animated map shows how Indo-European languages may have evolved
Published: 2015/01/21
Channel: BI Science
Afro-Asiatic Language Family
Afro-Asiatic Language Family
Published: 2012/07/26
Channel: Prasanna Patange
Tim Doner - Family Matters: A Look at the Indo-European Languages
Tim Doner - Family Matters: A Look at the Indo-European Languages
Published: 2015/12/14
Channel: Polyglot Conference
Language Explorations Unit 1: Language Families
Language Explorations Unit 1: Language Families
Published: 2013/07/12
Channel: Miranda Cockrell
The Indo European Language Family
The Indo European Language Family
Published: 2015/08/25
Channel: Brian Vallejo
Austronesian Language Family
Austronesian Language Family
Published: 2013/06/08
Channel: Prasanna Patange
Indo European Language Family Never Existed
Indo European Language Family Never Existed
Published: 2015/12/28
Channel: Clyde Winters
German language course Lesson 2 family members
German language course Lesson 2 family members
Published: 2013/09/22
Channel: Cristi Naitsirc
Uto-Aztecan Language Family
Uto-Aztecan Language Family
Published: 2017/04/25
Channel: Indigenous Americans
Etymology of words in english & the germanic language family
Etymology of words in english & the germanic language family
Published: 2009/01/28
Channel: DerPoltergeist13
Hello in 51 Languages from Family Fun Pack
Hello in 51 Languages from Family Fun Pack
Published: 2015/01/25
Channel: Family Fun Pack
Sino-Tibetan Language Family
Sino-Tibetan Language Family
Published: 2013/06/03
Channel: Prasanna Patange
European Language Families
European Language Families
Published: 2011/07/30
Channel: A. Santamaria
Chinese - The Sinitic Languages
Chinese - The Sinitic Languages
Published: 2017/02/09
Channel: Langfocus
The 8 Different European Language Family Groups
The 8 Different European Language Family Groups
Published: 2014/02/19
Channel: greg thompson
Language Families of Asia
Language Families of Asia
Published: 2016/01/24
Channel: A. Santamaria
Overview of the Indo-European Languages
Overview of the Indo-European Languages
Published: 2017/02/24
Channel: Jackson Crawford
Are Turkish, Korean, Mongolian & Japanese Related? (The Altaic Languages)
Are Turkish, Korean, Mongolian & Japanese Related? (The Altaic Languages)
Published: 2016/12/30
Channel: The Polyglot Files
The Celtic Languages
The Celtic Languages
Published: 2016/12/26
Channel: Langfocus
Norwegian Language: Family-words
Norwegian Language: Family-words
Published: 2011/06/08
Channel: Norwegian Teacher - Karin
Europe language families: 38 languages TV fragments
Europe language families: 38 languages TV fragments
Published: 2014/03/07
Channel: Cristina
Language, Family, Identity | Lina Ben Mhenni | TEDxSciencesPoCampusMenton
Language, Family, Identity | Lina Ben Mhenni | TEDxSciencesPoCampusMenton
Published: 2017/05/18
Channel: TEDx Talks
Family Signs in ASL - American Sign Language
Family Signs in ASL - American Sign Language
Published: 2013/12/03
Channel: ASL THAT
Intro to Historical Linguistics: Comparative Method & Language Family Trees (lesson 3 of 4)
Intro to Historical Linguistics: Comparative Method & Language Family Trees (lesson 3 of 4)
Published: 2012/06/08
Channel: NativLang
(Korean language) "Family" expression 엄마 아빠 할아버지 할머니 동생 오빠 by seemile.com
(Korean language) "Family" expression 엄마 아빠 할아버지 할머니 동생 오빠 by seemile.com
Published: 2010/03/25
Channel: SEEMILE dot COM
Baby Sign Language Family Members
Baby Sign Language Family Members
Published: 2014/04/19
Channel: Waiting for baby
Language Families of Africa
Language Families of Africa
Published: 2011/12/17
Channel: EmperorTigerstar
American Sign Language (ASL) Lesson: Family & PQRST
American Sign Language (ASL) Lesson: Family & PQRST
Published: 2013/01/22
Channel: Eric Buffington
Germanic Language Family
Germanic Language Family
Published: 2014/10/19
Channel: carj31
Language Families of Asia
Language Families of Asia
Published: 2011/12/14
Channel: EmperorTigerstar
ALTAIC LANGUAGES(Turkic,Mongolic,Koreanic,Japonic,Tungusic)
ALTAIC LANGUAGES(Turkic,Mongolic,Koreanic,Japonic,Tungusic)
Published: 2015/10/09
Channel: World Languages
Languages not from the Indo-European family in Europe
Languages not from the Indo-European family in Europe
Published: 2015/12/31
Channel: World Languages
Language family
Language family
Published: 2014/08/11
Channel: Audiopedia
Know your language: PD
Know your language: PD
Published: 2016/12/18
Channel: Linguistics Direct
Hmong-Mien Language Family
Hmong-Mien Language Family
Published: 2010/02/18
Channel: niam txiv
Language Families and Language Isolates (Patreon Questions)
Language Families and Language Isolates (Patreon Questions)
Published: 2017/03/25
Channel: Jackson Crawford
The Armenian Language & its Place in the Indo-European Linguistic Family
The Armenian Language & its Place in the Indo-European Linguistic Family
Published: 2014/03/04
Channel: LibraryOfCongress
Language of Indo-European (Family Tree)
Language of Indo-European (Family Tree)
Published: 2016/01/06
Channel: PirateKurd
Indo-European Language Family
Indo-European Language Family
Published: 2016/09/12
Channel: 9A43_Izabela Oliveira
The Indo European Langages
The Indo European Langages
Published: 2013/07/31
Channel: hururs1
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Principal oral languages (no sign languages shown) families of the world (and in some cases geographic groups of families).
For greater detail, see Distribution of languages on earth.

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.[1]

Estimates of the number of living languages vary from 5,000 to 8,000, depending on the precision of one's definition of "language", and in particular on how one classifies dialects. The 2013 edition of Ethnologue catalogs just over 7,000 living human languages.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4]

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.

Structure of a family[edit]

Language families can be divided into smaller phylogenetic units, conventionally referred to as branches of the family because the history of a language family is often represented as a tree diagram. A family is a monophyletic unit; all its members derive from a common ancestor, and all attested descendants of that ancestor are included in the family. (Thus, the term family is analogous to the biological term clade.) Some taxonomists restrict the term family to a certain level, but there is little consensus in how to do so. Those who affix such labels also subdivide branches into groups, and groups into complexes. A top-level (largest) family is often called a phylum or stock. The closer the branches are to each other, the closer the languages will be related. This means if a branch off of a proto-language is 4 branches down and there is also a sister language to that fourth branch, than the two sister languages will be more closely related to each other rather than the proto-language.

The term macrofamily or superfamily is sometimes applied to proposed groupings of language families whose status as phylogenetic units is generally considered to be unsubstantiated by accepted historical linguistic methods.

For example, the Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Romance, and Indo-Iranian language families are branches of a larger Indo-European language family. There is a remarkably similar pattern shown by the linguistic tree and the genetic tree of human ancestry[5] that was verified statistically.[6] Languages interpreted in terms of the putative phylogenetic tree of human languages are transmitted to a great extent vertically (by ancestry) as opposed to horizontally (by spatial diffusion).[7]

Dialect continua[edit]

Some closely knit language families, and many branches within larger families, take the form of dialect continua in which there are no clearcut borders that make it possible for unequivocally identifying, defining, or counting individual languages within the family. However, when the differences between the speech of different regions at the extremes of the continuum are so great that there is no mutual intelligibility between them, as occurs for Arabic, the continuum cannot meaningfully be seen as a single language. A speech variety may also be considered either a language or a dialect depending on social or political considerations. Thus, different sources give sometimes wildly different accounts of the number of languages within a family. Classifications of the Japonic family, for example, range from one language (a language isolate) to nearly twenty.

Isolates[edit]

Most of the world's languages are known to be related to others. Those that have no known relatives (or for which family relationships are only tentatively proposed) are called language isolates, essentially language families consisting of a single language. An example is Basque. In general, it is assumed that language isolates have relatives or had relatives at some point in their history but at a time depth too great for linguistic comparison to recover them.

A language isolated in its own branch within a family, such as Armenian within Indo-European, is often also called an isolate, but the meaning of isolate in such cases is usually clarified. For instance, Armenian may be referred to as an "Indo-European isolate". By contrast, so far as is known, the Basque language is an absolute isolate: it has not been shown to be related to any other language despite numerous attempts. A language may be said to be an isolate currently but not historically if related but now extinct relatives are attested. The Aquitanian language, spoken in Roman times, may have been an ancestor of Basque, but it could also have been a sister language to the ancestor of Basque. In the latter case, Basque and Aquitanian would form a small family together. (Ancestors are not considered to be distinct members of a family.)

Proto-languages[edit]

The proto-language can also be referred to as the mother language.The common ancestor of a language family is seldom known directly since most languages have a relatively short recorded history. However, it is possible to recover many features of a proto-language by applying the comparative method, a reconstructive procedure worked out by 19th century linguist August Schleicher. This can demonstrate the validity of many of the proposed families in the list of language families. For example, the reconstructible common ancestor of the Indo-European language family is called Proto-Indo-European. Proto-Indo-European is not attested by written records and so is conjectured to have been spoken before the invention of writing.

Sometimes, however, a proto-language can be identified with a historically known language. For instance, dialects of Old Norse are the proto-language of Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Faroese and Icelandic. Likewise, the Appendix Probi depicts Proto-Romance, a language almost unattested because of the prestige of Classical Latin, a highly stylised literary register not representative of the speech of ordinary people. It is worth noting that although many languages are related through a proto-language, it does not mean that speakers of each language will necessarily understand each other. There are cases in which speakers of one language are able to understand and successfully communicate with their sister languages. But there are also cases where this is very one sided meaning that only one communicator is able to understand a language while the other cannot. An example of this would be many Spanish speakers can understand Italian however Italians are unable to comprehend what Spanish speakers are saying. Both of these languages share a proto-language but only bits are understood.

Other classifications of languages[edit]

Sprachbund[edit]

Shared innovations, acquired by borrowing or other means, are not considered genetic and have no bearing with the language family concept. It has been asserted, for example, that many of the more striking features shared by Italic languages (Latin, Oscan, Umbrian, etc.) might well be "areal features". However, very similar-looking alterations in the systems of long vowels in the West Germanic languages greatly postdate any possible notion of a proto-language innovation (and cannot readily be regarded as "areal", either, since English and continental West Germanic were not a linguistic area). In a similar vein, there are many similar unique innovations in Germanic, Baltic and Slavic that are far more likely to be areal features than traceable to a common proto-language. But legitimate uncertainty about whether shared innovations are areal features, coincidence, or inheritance from a common ancestor, leads to disagreement over the proper subdivisions of any large language family.

A sprachbund is a geographic area having several languages that feature common linguistic structures. The similarities between those languages are caused by language contact, not by chance or common origin, and are not recognized as criteria that define a language family. An example of a sprachbund would be the Indian subcontinent.

Contact languages[edit]

The concept of language families is based on the historical observation that languages develop dialects, which over time may diverge into distinct languages. However, linguistic ancestry is less clear-cut than familiar biological ancestry, in which species do not crossbreed. It is more like the evolution of microbes, with extensive lateral gene transfer: Quite distantly related languages may affect each other through language contact, which in extreme cases may lead to languages with no single ancestor, whether they be creoles or mixed languages. In addition, a number of sign languages have developed in isolation and appear to have no relatives at all. Nonetheless, such cases are relatively rare and most well-attested languages can be unambiguously classified as belonging to one language family or another, even if this family's relation to other families is not known.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rowe, Bruce M.; Levine, Diane P. (2015). A Concise Introduction to Linguistics. Routledge. pp. 340–341. ISBN 1317349288. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "Ethnologue: Languages of the world" (Seventeenth ed.). Retrieved 5 November 2015. World Population 6,800,596,862 / Living Languages 7,106 / Institutional: 560, Developing: 1,563, Vigorous: 2,549, In Trouble: 1,519, Dying: 915 
  3. ^ Müller, Max (1862). Lectures on the science of language: delivered at the Royal institution of Great Britain in April, May and June, 1861 (3rd ed.). London: Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts. p. 216. The genealogical classification of the Aryan languages was founded, as we saw, on a close comparison of the grammatical characteristics of each;.... 
  4. ^ Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. (2011). Historical Linguistics and the Comparative Study of African Languages. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 336. ISBN 9027287228. Retrieved 26 January 2017. 
  5. ^ Henn, B. M.; Cavalli-Sforza, L. L.; Feldman, M. W. (17 October 2012). "The great human expansion". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (44): 17758–17764. Bibcode:2012PNAS..10917758H. JSTOR 41829755. PMC 3497766Freely accessible. PMID 23077256. doi:10.1073/pnas.1212380109. 
  6. ^ Cavalli-Sforza, L. L.; Minch, E.; Mountain, J. L. (Jun 15, 1992). "Coevolution of genes and languages revisited". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 89 (12): 5620–4. Bibcode:1992PNAS...89.5620C. JSTOR 2359705. PMC 49344Freely accessible. PMID 1608971. doi:10.1073/pnas.89.12.5620. 
  7. ^ Gell-Mann, M.; Ruhlen, M. (10 October 2011). "The origin and evolution of word order". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (42): 17290–17295. Bibcode:2011PNAS..10817290G. JSTOR 41352497. doi:10.1073/pnas.1113716108. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Boas, Franz (1911). Handbook of American Indian languages. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Volume 1. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology. ISBN 0-8032-5017-7. 
  • Boas, Franz. (1922). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 2). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology).
  • Boas, Franz. (1933). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 3). Native American legal materials collection, title 1227. Glückstadt: J.J. Augustin.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The historical linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-509427-1.
  • Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne (Eds.). (1979). The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Goddard, Ives (Ed.). (1996). Languages. Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. ISBN 0-16-048774-9.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1999). Native languages and language families of North America (rev. and enlarged ed. with additions and corrections). [Map]. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (Smithsonian Institution). (Updated version of the map in Goddard 1996). ISBN 0-8032-9271-6.
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com).
  • Greenberg, Joseph H. (1966). The Languages of Africa (2nd ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University.
  • Harrison, K. David. (2007) When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. New York and London: Oxford University Press.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Ross, Malcolm. (2005). "Pronouns as a preliminary diagnostic for grouping Papuan languages". In: Andrew Pawley, Robert Attenborough, Robin Hide and Jack Golson, eds, Papuan pasts: cultural, linguistic and biological histories of Papuan-speaking peoples (PDF)
  • Ruhlen, Merritt. (1987). A guide to the world's languages. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). (1978–present). Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 1–20). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. (Vols. 1–3, 16, 18–20 not yet published).
  • Voegelin, C. F.; & Voegelin, F. M. (1977). Classification and index of the world's languages. New York: Elsevier.

External links[edit]

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