The Spread of
the “Indo-European” Languages
For an Interactive Map click on Google Map
Indo-European Languages 8000 – 500 BC
Together with agriculture the Indo-European language developed from Antolian and spread first to Greece and the Balkans and then east to Persia, India and Sri Lanka.
Neolithic settlements such as Çatalhöyük, Çayönü, Nevali Cori, Hacilar,an Göbekli Tepe are now recognized as the origins of agriculture and Neolithic religion. Through recorded history, Anatolians have spoken both Indo-European and Semitic languages, as well as many languages of uncertain affiliation. On the basis of genetic migrations, it has now to be assumed that the the "Indo-European" Lanuage originated in Anatolia and spread to Wetern Europe and India with the agriculturists. The "Kurgan Hypothesis" of the origin of IE has become untenable, when genetic information, mtMitochondria and Y-chromosome distributions are folded into the archeological data.
Anatolian comprises the following extinct languages:
Hittite (1600 - 1100 BC), Palaic, extinct around the 1200 BC, Lycian, extinct in the 1st century BC, Carian ( 7th century - 3rd century BC), Pamphylian, and Milyan. All of these are known only from fragmentary inscriptions.
Linguists typically classify Armenian as an independent branch of the Indo-European language family. The Armenian language dates to the early period of Indo-European differentiation and dispersion some 5000 BC, or perhaps as early as 5800 BC according to some recent hypothesis. Armenian is regarded by some linguists as a close relative of Phrygian. Many scholars such as Clackson (1994) hold that Greek as the most closely related language to Armenian.
The hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranian is usually associated with the Sintashta-Petrovka culture of Central Asia (2100-1800 BC). Their expansion is believed to have been connected with the invention of the chariot, hence the importance of the Wheel in Vedic-Sanscrit religion.
Proto Indo-Iranian comprises a large number of languages:
Indic: Vedic Sanskrit, Classical Sanskrit, Pali, Apabhramsha, Dramatic Prakrits (Magadhi, Maharashtri, Sauraseni), Elu, and Jain
Iranian: Median, Old Persian, Avestan†, Old Scythian†, Parthian†, Middle Persian, Bactrian†, Kwarezmian†, Ossetic, Saka (Sacian),· Scythian, Sodian, Dardic and Nuristani. († extinct languages)
The Indo-Aryan or Indic languages constitute a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. Indo-Aryan speakers form about one half (approx 1.5 billion) of all Indo-European speakers (approx 3 billion), also Indo-Aryan has more than half of all recognized Indo-European languages, according to Ethnologue.
The largest in terms of native speakers being Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu) (about 240 million), Bengali (about 230 million), Punjabi (about 90 million), Marathi (about 70 million), Gujarati (about 45 million), Oriya (about 30 million), Sindhi (about 20 million), Saraiki (about 18 million), Nepali (about 14 million), Chittagonian (about 14 million), Sinhala (about 16 million), and Assamese (about 13 million) with a total number of native speakers of more than 900 million. They form a subgroup of the Indo-Iranian languages, which consists of two other language groups: the Iranian and Nuristani
Tocharian is documented in manuscript fragments, mostly from the 6th-
8th century AD (with a few earlier ones) that were written on palm
leaves, wooden tablets and Chinese paper, preserved by the extremely
dry climate of the Tarim Basin.
Recent excavations of graves in Charchen and near Lop Nor containing Northern Europeans mummified by the dry climate dated to 1600 BC seem to confirm early Northern (Indo-) European migrations into the Tarim Basin.
Greek is one of the earliest attested Indo-European languages, with fragmentary records in Mycenaean dating back to the 15th or 14th century BC, making Greek one of the very few living languages (together with the Chinese and West Semitic languages) directly descended from a language recorded in the Bronze Age.
Greek has been written in the Greek alphabet (the oldest continuously used alphabet, and the first to introduce vowels) since the 9th century BC in Greece (before that in Linear B in Knossos)
The Italic subfamily is a "centum" branch of the Indo-European language family. It includes the Romance languages (Italian, Catalan, Occitan, French, Corsican, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Arpitan etc.), and a number of extinct languages of the Italian Peninsula, including Latin, Umbrian, and Oscan.
The Italic speakers were not native to Italy, but migrated into the Italian Peninsula in the course of the 2nd millennium BC, and were apparently related to the Celtic tribes that roamed over a large part of Western Europe at the time. Archaeologically, the Apennine culture (inhumations) enters the Italian Peninsula from ca. 1350 BC, east to west; the Iron Age reaches Italy from ca. 1100 BC, with the Villanovan culture (cremating), intruding north to south. Before the Italic arrival, Italy was populated primarily by non-Indo-European groups (perhaps including the Etruscans). The first settlement on the Palatine hill dates to ca. 750 BC, settlements on the Quirinal to 720 BC.
The Celtic languages are descended from Proto-Celtic which in 1000 BC, was probably spoken across Europe (Iron Age), from the Bay of Biscay and the North Sea, up the Rhine and down the Danube to the Black Sea and the Upper Balkan Peninsula, and into Asia Minor (Galatia).
Balto-Slawic 1200 BC
Mainstream historical linguists (Oswald Szemerényi, August Schleicher) postulate that Proto-Slavic developed from the Proto-Balto-Slavic language (Lithuanian). According to this theory, the origin of Proto-Balto-Slavic lay in the bogs and woods surrounding today's Lithuania (3000 BC?). The process of separation of Proto-Slavic speakers from Proto-Baltic speakers presumably occurred around 1000 BC. Although the Slavic languages split from a common proto-language later than any other group of the Indo-European language family, enough differences exist between the various Slavic dialects and languages to make communication between speakers of different Slavic languages difficult.
Slavic falls into three groups:
East Slavic (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Rusyn)
West Slavic, (Lithuanian, Czech, Slovak, Sorbian, Polish, Pomeranian, Kashubian, Silesian and extinct Prussian)
South Slavic (Serbian, Slovenian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Macedonian)
Proto-Germanic (500 BC-50 BC.) is the hypothetical common ancestor (proto-language) of all the Germanic languages, which include, among others, modern English, Dutch, German, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish. - Indo-European speakers arrived on the plains of southern Sweden and Jutland, the center of the Germanic peoples, prior to the Nordic Bronze Age, which began about 2500 BC.
The earliest Germanic writing occurs in a single instance in 200 BC on the Negau, Slovenia helmet. It is now accepted that the script is North Etruscan proper, and precedes the formation of the Runic alphabet.
Tokharian is considered one of the most obscure branches of the group of Indo-European languages. The name of the language is taken from people known to the Greek historian Ptolemy (VI, 11, 6) as the Tocharians. Phonetically, Tocharian is a "centum" Indo-European language, characterized by the merging of palato-velar consonants with plain velars (*k, *g, *gh), which is generally associated with Indo-European languages of the northwestern European branch (Italic, Celtic, Germanic, Greek) not a derivative of Indo-Iranian ("hatem"- languages).
Non-Indo-European Langages in Greater Europe
The South Caucasian languages (also known as Ibero-Caucasian or Kartvelian) are spoken primarily in Georgia, with smaller groups of speakers in Turkey, Iran, Russia and Israel.Georgian is written with an original and distinctive alphabet, and the oldest surviving literary text dates from the 5th century AD.
Basque (native name: euskara) is the language spoken by the Basque people who inhabit the Pyrenees in North-Central Spain and the adjoining region of South-Western France.
Although geographically surrounded by Indo-European languages, Basque is considered to be an isolated language, with, despite numerous attempts by early linguists, no relatives anywhere,. Its prehistory may not be reconstructible by means of the comparative linguistic,. It is likely that an early form of the Basque language was present in Western Europe before the arrival of the Indo-European languages.
Ugric 3000 BC
Ugric include three languages: Hungarian (Magyar), and the Ob-Ugric languages, Khanty (Ostyak) and Mansi language (Vogul). Their common Proto-Ugric language was probably spoken from the end of the 3rd millennium BC until the first half of the 1st millennium BC, in Western Siberia, east from the southern Ural mountains.
The languages are spoken in the region between the Urals and the Ob River and the Irtysh in central Russia. The forests and forest steppe of the southern Urals is thought to be the original homeland or the Ugric branch. Beginning some 500 years ago the arrival of the Russians pushed the speakers eastward to the Ob and Irtysh.
Hungarian was split off during the 11th century BC. Although the languages are related to Hungarian, the connection is loose and are radically different in phonology, syntax, and vocabulary. Khanty and Mansi on the other hand are closely related, but are not mutually intelligible. The Ob-Ugric languages were later strongly influenced by nearby Turkic languages, especially Tatar
Altay Proto-Turkic 1000 BC
1000 BC and Estonian 500 BC
Finnish is a member of the Baltic-Finnic subgroup of the Finno-Ugric group of languages which in turn is a member of the Uralic family of languages. The Baltic-Finnic subgroup also includes Estonian and other minority languages spoken around the Baltic Sea.
It is believed that the Balto-Finnic languages evolved from a proto-Finnic language, from which Sami was separated around 1500-1000 BC. Current research indicates there were three or more proto-Finnic dialects. The Baltic Finnic languages separated around the 1st century, but continued to influence each other. Therefore, the Eastern Finnish dialects are genetically Eastern proto-Finnic, with many Eastern features, and the Southwestern Finnish dialects have many genuine Estonian influences.
The Samoyedic languages are spoken on both sides of the Ural mountains, in northernmost Eurasia, by perhaps 30,000 speakers altogether.
The Samoyedic languages derive from a common ancestral language called Proto-Samoyedic, and together with the Finno-Ugric languages the Samoyedic languages form the Uralic language family.
600 AD and Western Turkish 300 AD
Turkish spoken in Turkey is the eastern-most branch of the Turkic language family comprising some 30 living languages spoken across Eastern Europe, Central Asia. and Siberia.
Some linguists believe the Turkic languages to be a part of a larger Altaic language family. The characteristic features of Turkish, such as vowel harmony, agglutination, and lack of grammatical gender, are universal within the Turkic family and the Altaic languages. Due to the very recent western migration of the Uigur-Turkish people, there is a high degree of mutual intelligibility between Western Turkish and their eastern tribesmen. (Oghuz, Uighur Turkmen, Azeri, Qashqai, and Gagauz)
Hungarian is an Uralic language, more specifically an Ugric language. Connections between the Ugric and Finnic languages were noticed in the 1670s and established, along with the entire Uralic family, in 1717, although the classification of Hungarian continued to be a matter of political controversy into the 18th and even 19th centuries. Today the Uralic family is considered one of the best researched language families. It is spoken in Hungary and by the Hungarian minorities in seven neighbouring countries.
The original Hungarian variant separated from Ugric probably around 1000 BC in their Uraltaic homeland (see the marker for Ugric).
The language was brought to Europe by the Huns in 453 AD who settled in the Hungarian Pusta around 986 AD. The Kingdom of Hungary was founded in 1000, by Stephen I of Hungary. The first written accounts of Hungarian, mostly personal and place names, are dated back to the 10th century. Hungarians also had their own writing system, the Old Hungarian script, but no significant texts remain from that time.