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Language families and languages

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Human_Language_Families_Map.PNG
Current distribution of Human Language Families

Most languages are known to belong to language families ("families" hereforth). An accurately identified family is a phylogenetic unit, i.e., all its members derive from a common ancestor. The ancestor is very seldom known to us directly, since most languages have a very short recorded history. However, it is possible to recover many of the features of the common ancestor of related languages by applying the comparative method -- a reconstructive procedure worked out by 19th-century linguist August Schleicher. It can demonstrate the family status of many of the groupings listed below.

Language families can be subdivided into smaller units, conventionally referred to as "branches" (because the history of a language family is often represented as a "tree" diagram).

The common ancestor of a family (or branch) is known as its "protolanguage". For example, the reconstructible protolanguage of the well-known Indo-European family is called Proto-Indo-European (not known from written records, since it was spoken before the invention of writing). Sometimes a protolanguage can be identified with a historically known language. Thus, provincial dialects of Latin ("Vulgar Latin") gave rise to the modern Romance languages, so the Proto-Romance language is more or less identical with Latin (if not exactly with the literary Latin of the Classical writers), and dialects of Old Norse are the protolanguage to Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic.

Languages that cannot be reliably classified into any family are known as language isolates.

Contents

Largest families

According to the Ethnologue[1] (http://www.ethnologue.com/web.asp), the largest language families are:

  1. Niger-Congo (1514 languages) [formerly Niger-Kordofanian]
  2. Austronesian (1268 languages)
  3. Trans-New Guinea (564 languages) [disputed]
  4. Indo-European (449 languages)
  5. Sino-Tibetan (403 languages)
  6. Afro-Asiatic (375 languages)
  7. Australian (263 languages) [no longer accepted as a family]
  8. Nilo-Saharan (204 languages)
  9. Oto-Manguean (174 languages)
  10. Austro-Asiatic (169 languages)
  11. Sepik-Ramu (100 languages) [disputed]
  12. Tai-Kadai (76 languages)
  13. Tupi (76 languages)
  14. Dravidian (73 languages)
  15. Mayan (69 languages)

Language families (spoken)

In the following, each "bulleted" item is a known language family. The geographic headings over them are meant solely as a tool for grouping families into collections more comprehensible than an unstructured list of the dozen or two of independent families. Geographic relationship is convenient for that purpose, but these headings are not a suggestion of any "super-families" phylogenetically relating the families named.

Africa and southwest Asia

See main article, African languages
  1. Afro-Asiatic (Hamito-Semitic) languages
  2. Niger-Congo languages
  3. Nilo-Saharan languages
  4. Khoisan languages

Europe, and north, west, and south Asia

  1. Indo-European languages
  2. Dravidian languages (some include Dravidian languages in a larger Elamo-Dravidian language family.)
  3. Caucasian languages (generally thought to be two separate families, North Caucasian and Kartvelian)
  4. Altaic languages (disputed)
  5. Uralic languages
  6. Hurro-Urartian languages (extinct)
  7. Yukaghir languages (Some include Yukaghir in the Uralic family.)
  8. Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages
  9. Yeniseian languages
  10. Andamanese languages (two families)

East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific

  1. Australian Aboriginal languages (multiple families)
  2. Austroasiatic languages
  3. Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) languages
  4. Hmong-Mien languages
  5. Japonic languages
  6. Papuan languages (multiple families)
  7. Sino-Tibetan languages (some include Tai-Kadai and Hmong-Mien in the Sino-Tibetan family)
  8. Tai-Kadai languages

North America

Missing image
Langs_N.Amer.png
distribution of language families and isolates north of Mexico at first contact
See main article, Native American languages
  1. Algic languages (incl. Algonquian languages) (29)
  2. Alsean languages (2)
  3. Caddoan languages (5)
  4. Chimakuan languages (2)
  5. Chinookan languages (3)
  6. Chumashan languages (6)
  7. Comecrudan languages (3)
  8. Coosan languages (2)
  9. Eskimo-Aleut languages (7)
  10. Guacurian languages (a.k.a. Waikurian) (8)
  11. Iroquoian languages (11)
  12. Kalapuyan languages (3)
  13. Kiowa-Tanoan languages (7)
  14. Maiduan languages (4)
  15. Mayan languages (North America & Central America) (31)
  16. Muskogean languages (6)
  17. Na-Den languages (40)
  18. Oto-Manguean languages (North America & Central America) (27)
  19. Palaihnihan languages (2)
  20. Plateau Penutian languages (a.k.a. Shahapwailutan) (4)
  21. Pomoan languages (7)
  22. Salishan languages (23)
  23. Shastan languages (4)
  24. Siouan languages (16)
  25. Tequistlatecan languages (3)
  26. Totonacan languages (2)
  27. Tsimishian languages (2)
  28. Utian languages (12)
  29. Uto-Aztecan languages (31)
  30. Wakashan languages (6)
  31. Wintuan languages (4)
  32. Yokutsan languages (3)
  33. Yukian languages (2)
  34. Yuman-Cochim languages (11)

Central America and South America

See main article, Native American languages
  1. Alacalufan languages (South America) (2)
  2. Algic languages (North American & Central America) (29)
  3. Arauan languages (South America) (8)
  4. Araucanian languages (South America) (2)
  5. Arawakan languages (South America, Caribbean) (60)
  6. Arutani-Sape languages (South America) (2)
  7. Aymaran languages (South America) (3)
  8. Barbacoan languages (South America) (7)
  9. Cahuapanan languages (South America) (2)
  10. Carib languages (South America) (29)
  11. Chapacura-Wanham languages (South America) (5)
  12. Chibchan languages (Central America & South America) (22)
  13. Choco languages (South America) (10)
  14. Chon languages (South America) (2)
  15. Comecrudan languages (North America & Central America) (3)
  16. Guacurian languages (a.k.a. Waikurian) (8)
  17. Harakmbet languages (South America) (2)
  18. Jicaquean languages (Central America)
  19. Jivaroan languages (South America) (4)
  20. Katukinan languages (South America) (3)
  21. Lencan languages (Central America)
  22. Lule-Vilela languages (South America) (1)
  23. Macro-Ge languages (South America) (32)
  24. Maku languages (South America) (6)
  25. Mascoian languages (South America) (5)
  26. Mataco-Guaicuru languages (South America) (11)
  27. Mayan languages (Central America) (31)
  28. Misumalpan languages (Central America)
  29. Mixe-Zoquean languages (Central America) (19)
  30. Mosetenan languages (South America) (1)
  31. Mura languages (South America) (1)
  32. Na-Dené languages (North America & Central America) (40)
  33. Nambiquaran languages (South America) (5)
  34. Oto-Manguean languages (North America & Central America) (27)
  35. Paezan languages (South America) (1)
  36. Panoan languages (South America) (30)
  37. Peba-Yaguan languages (South America) (2)
  38. Quechuan languages (South America) (46)
  39. Salivan languages (South America) (2)
  40. Tacanan languages (South America) (6)
  41. Tequistlatecan languages (Central America) (3)
  42. Totonacan languages (Central America) (2)
  43. Tucanoan languages (South America) (25)
  44. Tupi languages (South America) (70)
  45. Uru-Chipaya languages (South America) (2)
  46. Uto-Aztecan languages (North America & Central America) (31)
  47. Witotoan languages (South America) (6)
  48. Xincan languages (Central America)
  49. Yanomam languages (South America) (4)
  50. Yuman-Cochimi languages (North America & Central America) (11)
  51. Zamucoan languages (South America) (2)
  52. Zaparoan languages (South America) (7)

Language isolates (spoken)

Central & South America

  1. Aikan (Brazil: Rondnia)
  2. Alagilac (Guatemala)
  3. Andoque language (Colombia, Peru)
  4. Baenan (Brazil)
  5. Betoi (Columbia)
  6. Cams language (Columbia)
  7. Canichana (Bolivia)
  8. Cayubaba language (Bolivia)
  9. Coahuilteco (US: Texas; northeast Mexico)
  10. Cofn (Colombia, Ecuador)
  11. Cotoname (northeast Mexico; US: Texas)
  12. Cuitlatec (Mexico: Guerrero)
  13. Culle (Peru)
  14. Cunza (Chile, Bolivia, Argentina)
  15. Gamela (Brazil: Maranho)
  16. Gorgotoqui (Bolivia)
  17. Huamo (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  18. Huave (Mexico: Oaxaca)
  19. Irantxe (Brazil: Mato Grosso)
  20. Itonama language (Bolivia)
  21. Jot (Venezuela)
  22. Karir (Brazil: Paraba, Pernambuco, Cear)
  23. Koay (Brazil: Rondnia)
  24. Kukur (Brazil: Mato Grosso)
  25. Mapudungu (Chile, Argentina)
  26. Maratino (northeastern Mexico)
  27. Movima (Bolivia)
  28. Munichi (Peru)
  29. Nambiquaran (Brazil: Mato Grosso)
  30. Naolan (Mexico: Tamaulipas)
  31. Nat (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  32. Omurano (Peru)
  33. Ot (Brazil: So Paulo)
  34. Pankarar language (Brazil: Pernambuco)
  35. Puelche language (Chile)
  36. Puinave language (Columbia)
  37. Puquina (Bolivia)
  38. Quinigua (northeast Mexico)
  39. Sabela (Ecuador, Peru)
  40. Seri (Mexico: Sonora)
  41. Solano (northeast Mexico; US: Texas)
  42. Tarairi (Brazil: Rio Grande do Norte)
  43. Tarascan (a.k.a. Purpecha) (Mexico: Michoacn)
  44. Taushiro (Peru)
  45. Tequiraca (Peru)
  46. Ticuna language (Colombia, Peru, Brazil)
  47. Tux language (Brazil: Bahia, Pernambuco)
  48. Warao language (Guyana, Surinam, Venezuela)
  49. Xok (Brazil: Alagoas, Pernambuco)
  50. Xukur (Brazil: Pernambuco, Paraba)
  51. Ymana language (a.k.a Yagan) (Chile)
  52. Yuracare language (Bolivia)
  53. Yuri (Colombia, Brazil)
  54. Yurumangu (Columbia)

North America

  1. Adai (US: Louisiana, Texas)
  2. Aranama-Tamique (US: Texas)
  3. Atakapa (US: Louisiana, Texas)
  4. Beothuk (Canada: Newfoundland)
  5. Calusa (US: Florida)
  6. Cayuse (US: Oregon, Washington)
  7. Chimariko (US: California)
  8. Chitimacha (US: Lousiania)
  9. Coahuilteco (US: Texas; northeast Mexico)
  10. Cotoname (northeast Mexico; US: Texas)
  11. Esselen (US: California)
  12. Haida (Canada: British Columbia; US: Alaska)
  13. Karankawa (US: Texas)
  14. Karok (a.k.a. Karuk) (US: California)
  15. Keres (US: New Mexico)
  16. Konomihu (US: California)
  17. Kootenai (Canada: British Columbia; US: Idaho, Montana)
  18. Natchez (US: Mississippi, Louisiana)
  19. Salinan (US: California)
  20. Siuslaw (US: Oregon)
  21. Solano (northeast Mexico; US: Texas)
  22. Takelma (US: Oregon)
  23. Timucua (US: Florida, Georgia)
  24. Tonkawa (US: Texas)
  25. Tunica (US: Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas)
  26. Washo (US: California, Nevada)
  27. Yana (US: California)
  28. Yuchi (US: Georgia, Oklahoma)
  29. Zuni (a.k.a. Shiwi) (US: New Mexico)

Asia

  1. Ainu language or languages (Russia, Japan) (like Arabic or Japanese, the diversity within Ainu is large enough that some consider it to be perhaps up to a dozen languages while others consider it a single language with high dialectal diversity)
  2. Burushaski (Pakistan, India) (sometimes linked to Yeniseian)
  3. Kalto or Nahali (India) [sometimes linked to Munda]
  4. Korean (North & South Korea, China) (sometimes linked to Altaic)
  5. Nivkh or Gilyak (Russia) (sometimes linked to Chukchi-Kamchatkan)
  6. Sumerian (Iraq) [extinct]
  7. Elamite (Iran) [extinct] (sometimes linked to Dravidian)
  8. Hattic (Turkey) [extinct] (sometimes linked to Northwest Caucasian)

Africa

  1. Hadza (Tanzania) (sometimes included in Khoisan)

Europe

  1. Basque (Spain, France)
  2. Etruscan (Italy) [extinct]

Sign languages

See List of sign languages

Creole languages, pidgins, mixed languages, and trade languages

Proposed language stocks

Other natural languages of special interest

External links

Bibilography

  • Boas, Franz. (1911). Handbook of American Indian languages (Vol. 1). Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 40. Washington: Government Print Office (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology).
  • 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. Glckstadt: 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 0-1604-8774-9.
  • 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 Institute). (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.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • 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.ar:عائلات لغوية

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