How Language Trees Teach Us about Our Heritage and History
By: Jalil Javed
Since the discovery of the Rosetta stone, our knowledge in linguistic history has increased with each passing year. And many scientific breakthroughs later, we have arrived at a point where we can conclusively map the Language family trees of various languages right down to the original languages.
Our Heritage in Our Language Family Tree
Today, there are over thousands of languages that are spoken worldwide, most of them that are widely spoken belong to one of three language groups. These are:
- (Includes English)
- (Includes Chinese)
- (Includes Arabic)
Reverse Engineering: How Linguists decrypted the Origins of languages
We can map out language family trees (Language trees by decoding the similarity in the dialectics of different languages: For example:
Let’s look at two words, Two, and Three and map out the similarities of this word in various Indo-European languages.
Let’s start with the word Two and let’s see the word translated into various Indo-European Languages:
And now let’s look at the word three:
The Evolution of Language over Time:
This is an example of the similarities between various languages caused by being originated from a single Language Tree. A language tree whose first language was Proto Indo-European and now the Language tree has diverged and spread to create various different languages which include:
Latin (French, Spanish and Italian)
- Germanic (German, Dutch and Nordic Languages)
- Hellenic (including Greek)
- Indo-Iranian (Indo-Aryan, Iranian, and Nuristani)
These Languages, that evolved from Sino-Tibetan include:
- Tai (later expanded to Kam–Tai)
- Miao–Yao (Hmong–Mien)
- Karbi (Mikir)
- Nagish: Ao, Kuki-Chin, Tangkhul, Zeme, Angami–Pochuri and Meitei
- Western: Gongduk, 'Ole, Mahakiranti, Lepcha, Kham–Magaric–Chepang, Tamangic, and Lhokpu
- This branch has only one language — Coptic — which despite being extinct as a native language, is still playing a role as a liturgical language by the Coptic Orthodox Christians.
- Some scholars classify West Cushitic as a separate branch, called Omotic.
- The Semitic languages form the only Afro-Asiatic subfamily that is extant outside of Africa.
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