List of Indo-European languages

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Indo-European languages Worldwide by country
  Official or Primary Language
  Secondary Official Language
  No use
The approximate present-day distribution of the Indo-European branches within their homelands of Europe and Asia:
  Non-Indo-European languages
Dotted/striped areas indicate where multilingualism is common.
The approximate present-day distribution of Indo-European languages within the Americas by country:

The Indo-European languages include some 449 (SIL estimate, 2018 edition[1]) language families spoken by about or more than 3.5 billion people (roughly half of the world population). Most of the major languages belonging to language branches and groups of Europe, and Western and southern Asia, belong to the Indo-European language family. Therefore, Indo-European is the biggest language family in the world by number of mother tongue speakers (but not by number of languages in which it is the 3rd or 5th biggest). Eight of the top ten biggest languages, by number of native speakers, are Indo-European. One of these languages, English, is the de facto World Lingua Franca with an estimate of over one billion second language speakers.

Each subfamily or linguistic branch in this list contains many subgroups and individual languages. Indo-European language family has 10 known branches or subfamilies, of which eight are living and two are extinct. The relation of Indo-European branches, how they are related to one another and branched from the ancestral proto-language is a matter of further research and not yet well known. There are some individual Indo-European languages that are unclassified within the language family, they are not yet classified in a branch and could be members of their own branch.

The 449 Indo-European languages identified in the SIL estimate, 2018 edition,[2] are mostly living languages, however, if all the known extinct Indo-European languages are added, they number more than 800 or close to one thousand. This list includes all known Indo-European languages, living and extinct.

A distinction between a language and a dialect is not clear-cut and simple because there is, in many cases, several dialect continuums, transitional dialects and languages and also because there is no consensual standard to what amount of vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and prosody differences there is a language or there is a dialect. (Mutual intelligibility can be a standard but there are closely related languages that are also mutual intelligible to some degree, even if it is an asymmetric intelligibility.) Because of this, in this list, several dialect groups and some individual dialects of languages are shown (in italics), especially if a language is or was spoken by a large number of people and over a big land area, but also if it has or had divergent dialects.

The ancestral population and language, Proto-Indo-Europeans that spoke Proto-Indo-European, estimated to have lived about 4500 BCE (6500 BP), at some time in the past, starting about 4000 BCE (6000 BP) expanded through migration and cultural influence. This started a complex process of population blend or population replacement, acculturation and language change of peoples in many regions of western and southern Eurasia.[3] This process gave origin to many languages and branches of this language family.

At the end of the second millennium BC Indo-European speakers were many millions and lived in a vast geographical area in most of western and southern Eurasia (including western Central Asia).

In the following two millennia the number of speakers of Indo-European languages increased even further.

By geographical area, Indo-European languages remained spoken in big land areas, although most of western Central Asia and Asia Minor was lost to another language family (mainly Turkic) due to Turkic expansion, conquests and settlement (after the middle of the first millennium AD and the beginning and middle of the second millennium AD respectively) and also to Mongol invasions and conquests (that changed Central Asia ethnolinguistic composition). Another land area lost to non-Indo-European languages was today's Hungary due to Magyar/Hungarian (Uralic language speakers) conquest and settlement. However, in the second half of the second millennium AD, Indo-European languages expanded their territories to North Asia (Siberia), through Russian expansion, and North America, South America, Australia and New Zealand as the result of the age of European discoveries and European conquests through the expansions of the Portuguese, Spanish, French, English and the Dutch. (These peoples had the biggest continental or maritime empires in the world and their countries were major powers.)

The contact between different peoples and languages, especially as a result of European colonization, also gave origin to the many pidgins, creoles and mixed languages that are mainly based in Indo-European languages (many of which are spoken in island groups and coastal regions).

Hypothetical ancestors[edit]

Hypothetical relation to other language families and their proto-languages (controversial and yet unresolved issue of high level classification of known language families into larger clades of older age that descend from common ancestors in the remote past)

Ancestral (Proto-Indo-European)[edit]

Dating the split-offs of the main branches[edit]

Although all Indo-European languages descend from a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-European, the kinship between the subfamilies or branches (large groups of more closely related languages within the language family), that descend from other more recent proto-languages, is not the same because there are subfamilies that are closer or further, and they did not split-off at the same time, the affinity or kinship of Indo-European subfamilies or branches between themselves is still an unresolved and controversial issue (the reason for they are shown as separate and by alphabetical order in this list of Indo-European languages).

Using a mathematical analysis borrowed from evolutionary biology, Don Ringe and Tandy Warnow propose the following tree of Indo-European branches:[4]

David W. Anthony, following the methodology of Don Ringe and Tandy Warnow, proposes the following sequence:[5]

List of Indo-European protolanguages[edit]

The protolanguages that developed into the Indo-European languages

This is not a list of just Proto-Indo-European, but it also contains the protolanguages of Indo-European subfamilies

Albanian language[edit]

Distribution of modern Albanian dialects.

Anatolian languages (all extinct)[edit]

Anatolian languages in 2nd millennium BC; Blue: Luwian, Yellow: Hittite, Red: Palaic.

Armenian language[edit]

Armenian dialects, according to Adjarian (1909) (before 1st World War and Armenian Genocide). In many regions of the contiguous area shown in the map, Armenian speakers were the majority or a significant minority.
Modern geographical distribution of the Armenian language.

Balto-Slavic languages[edit]

Area of Balto-Slavic dialect continuum (purple) with proposed material cultures correlating to speakers Balto-Slavic in Bronze Age (white). Red dots= archaic Slavic hydronyms.
Political map of Europe with countries where a Slavic language is a national language marked in shades of green and where a Baltic language is a national language marked in light orange. Wood green represents East Slavic languages, pale green represents West Slavic languages, and sea green represents South Slavic languages. Contemporary Baltic languages are all from the same group: Eastern Baltic
Baltic languages (extinct languages shown in stripes).
Slavic languages in Europe (2008). Areas where languages overlap are shown in stripes.
Russian Language – Map of all the areas where the Russian language is the language spoken by the majority of the population. Based on the latest census available per country (2013). Russian is the biggest Slavic language both in number of first language speakers and in geographical area where the language is spoken (a vast land area of Eastern Europe and North AsiaSiberia, i.e. most of Northern Eurasia).

Celtic languages[edit]

Diachronic distribution of Celtic language speakers:
  core Hallstatt territory, by the 6th century BCE
  maximal Celtic expansion, by 275 BCE
  Lusitanian and Vettonian area of Iberian Peninsula where Celtic presence is uncertain, Para-Celtic?
  the six Celtic nations which retained significant numbers of Celtic speakers into the Early Modern period
  areas where Celtic languages remain widely spoken today
A map of the modern distribution of the Celtic languages. Red: Welsh; Purple:Cornish; Black: Breton; Green: Irish Gaelic; Blue: Scottish Gaelic: Yellow: Manx Gaelic. Areas where languages overlap are shown in stripes.

Germanic languages[edit]

One proposed theory for approximate distribution of the primary Germanic dialect groups in Europe around the year 1 AD. East Germanic Northwest Germanic West Germanic North Germanic
Germanic languages and main dialect groups in Europe.
Germanic languages in the World. Countries and sub-national entities where one or more Germanic languages are spoken. Dark Red: First language; Red: Official or Co-Official language, Pink: Spoken by a significant minority as second language.

Hellenic languages[edit]

Distribution of Greek dialects in Greece in the classical period.[6]
Distribution of Greek dialects in Magna Graecia (Southern Italy and Sicily) in the classical period.
Magna Graecia (Μεγάλη Ἑλλάς – Megálē Hellás) ancient colonies and dialects in the Classical Age (before Roman conquest).
The distribution of major modern Greek dialect areas.
Anatolian Greek until 1923. Demotic in yellow. Pontic in orange. Cappadocian in green. Green dots indicate Cappadocian-Greek-speaking villages in 1910.[7]

Indo-Iranian languages[edit]

Geographic distribution of modern Indo-Iranian languages. Blue, dark purple and green colour shades: Iranic languages. Dark pink: Nuristani languages. Red, light purple and orange colour shades: Indo-Aryan languages. Areas where languages overlap are shown in stripes.
Distribution of major modern Iranian languages.
Geographic distribution of modern Iranian languages (Central Iran languages are shown in blue dots).
Distribution of language groups and major modern Indo-Aryan languages. Pink: Dardic; Dark Blue: Northwestern Indo-Aryan; Purple: Northern Indo-Aryan; Red: Western Indo-Aryan; Orange: Central and East Central Indo-Aryan; Yellow: Eastern Indo-Aryan; Green: Southern Indo-Aryan. Areas where languages overlap are shown in stripes.

Italic languages[edit]

Iron Age Italy (c.500 B.C.). Italic languages in green colours.
Length of the Roman rule and the Romance Languages[9]
Romance languages in Europe (major dialect groups are also shown).
European extent of Romance languages in the 20th century
Eastern and Western Romance areas split by the La Spezia–Rimini Line
Romance languages in the World. Countries and sub-national entities where one or more Romance languages are spoken. Dark colours: First language, Light colours: Official or Co-Official language; Very Light colours: Spoken by a significant minority as first or second language. Blue: French; Green: Spanish; Orange: Portuguese; Yellow: Italian; Red: Romanian.

Tocharian languages (Agni-Kuči languages) (all extinct)[edit]

Tocharian languages A (blue), B (red) and C (green) in the Tarim Basin.[15] Tarim oasis towns are given as listed in the Book of Han (c. 2nd century BC). The areas of the squares are proportional to population.

Unclassified Indo-European languages (all extinct)[edit]

Indo-European languages whose relationship to other languages in the family is unclear

Possible Indo-European languages (all extinct)[edit]

Unclassified languages that may have been Indo-European or members of other language families (?)

Hypothetical Indo-European languages (all extinct)[edit]

Languages that may have existed and may have been Indo-European

  • Euphratic/Proto-Euphratean (a hypothetical early Indo-European language that influenced some languages of the Euphrates river basin, Euphratic languages possibly include Euphratic Proper, Zagrotic (Spoken in the Zagros), And Tigritic Spoken near the Tigres River)
  • Sorothaptic (a hypothetical pre-Celtic Bronze Age Indo-European language of the Urnfield culture in the Iberian Peninsula) (possibly part of an older Pre-Celtic Indo-European branch)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ethnologue report for Indo-European".
  2. ^ "Ethnologue report for Indo-European".
  3. ^ Allentoft, Morten E.; Sikora, Martin; Sjögren, Karl-Göran; Rasmussen, Simon; Rasmussen, Morten; Stenderup, Jesper; Damgaard, Peter B.; Schroeder, Hannes; Ahlström, Torbjörn; Vinner, Lasse; Malaspinas, Anna-Sapfo; Margaryan, Ashot; Higham, Tom; Chivall, David; Lynnerup, Niels; Harvig, Lise; Baron, Justyna; Casa, Philippe Della; Dąbrowski, Paweł; Duffy, Paul R.; Ebel, Alexander V.; Epimakhov, Andrey; Frei, Karin; Furmanek, Mirosław; Gralak, Tomasz; Gromov, Andrey; Gronkiewicz, Stanisław; Grupe, Gisela; Hajdu, Tamás; et al. (2015). "Population genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia". Nature. 522 (7555): 167–172. doi:10.1038/nature14507. PMID 26062507. S2CID 4399103.
  4. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, Princeton University Press
  5. ^ Anthony, David W. (2007), The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, Princeton University Press
  6. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  7. ^ Dawkins, R.M. 1916. Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  8. ^ "Ancient Macedonian". MultiTree: A Digital Library of Language Relationships. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  9. ^ Bereznay, András (2011). Erdély történetének atlasza [Atlas of the History of Transylvania]. Méry Ratio. p. 63. ISBN 978-80-89286-45-4.
  10. ^ DIAS, Felisberto Luís Ferreira. (1998). “Origens do Português Micaelense. Abordagem diacrónica do sistema vocálico” in A Voz Popular. Ponta Delgada: Universidade dos Açores
  11. ^ DIAS, Felisberto Luís Ferreira. (1998). “Origens do Português Micaelense. Abordagem diacrónica do sistema vocálico” in A Voz Popular. Ponta Delgada: Universidade dos Açores
  12. ^ BARCELOS, João Maria Soares de. (2008) Dicionário de falares dos Açores, vocabulário regional de todas as ilhas.
  13. ^ DIAS, Felisberto Luís Ferreira. (1998). “Origens do Português Micaelense. Abordagem diacrónica do sistema vocálico” in A Voz Popular. Ponta Delgada: Universidade dos Açores.
  14. ^ MIKOŁAJCZAK, Sylwia. (2014). "Características fonéticas do Português da Ilha Terceira" in Studia Iberystyczne.
  15. ^ Mallory & Mair (2000), pp. 67, 68, 274.

External links[edit]