Language Family

A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from 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. All the apparently biological terms are used only in the metaphoric sense: No actual biology relationship is implied by the metaphor.

As of early 2009, SIL Ethnologue catalogued 6,909 living human languages. A "living language" is simply one that is in wide use as a primary form of communication by a specific group of living people. The exact number of known living languages will vary from 5,000 to 10,000, depending generally on the precision of one's definition of "language", and in particular on how one classifies dialects. There are also many dead and extinct languages.

Membership of languages in the same language family is established by comparative linguistics. Daughter languages are said to have a genetic or genealogical relationship; the former term is more current in modern times, but the latter is equally as traditional. The evidence of linguistic relationship is observable shared characteristics that are not attributed to borrowing. 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 attested in the common ancestor of the entire family. For example, what makes Germanic languages "Germanic" is that they share vocabulary and grammatical features that are not believed to have been present in Proto-Indo-European. 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.

Read more about Language FamilyStructure of A Family

Other articles related to "family, language family, languages, language":

Miao People - Demographics
... Outside of China, members of the Miao linguistic/cultural family sub-group or nations of the Hmong live in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma due to migrations starting in the 18th century ... Altogether there are approximately 8 million speakers in the Miao language family ... This language family, which consists of 6 languages and around 35 dialects (some of which are mutually intelligible) belongs to the Hmong/Miao branch of the Hmong–Mien (Miao–Yao) language family ...
Eskimo-Aleut Languages
... Eskimo–Aleut or Eskaleut is a language family native to Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut, Greenland, and the Chukchi Peninsula on the eastern ... The Eskimo–Aleut language family is divided into two branches, the Eskimo languages and the Aleut language ... The Aleut language family consists of a single language, Aleut, spoken in the Aleutian Islands and the Pribilof Islands ...
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... A larger Aegean family including Eteocretan (Minoan language) and Eteocypriot has been proposed by G.M ... Facchetti, referring to some alleged similarities between the Etruscan language and ancient Lemnian (an Aegean language widely thought to be related to Etruscan), and some Ancient Aegean languages such as ... If these languages could be shown to be related to Etruscan and Rhaetic, they would constitute a pre-Indo-European phylum stretching from (at the very least) the Aegean ...
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... sets of related alphabets with letters (formerly known as runes), used for writing mostly Turkic languages ... noted for the exceptional uniformity of its language and paleography ... from the 8th century to record the Old Turkic language ...
Language Family - Other Classifications of Languages - Contact Languages
... The concept of language families is based on the historical observation that languages develop dialects, which over time may diverge into distinct languages ... with extensive lateral gene transfer Quite distantly related languages may affect each other through language contact, which in extreme cases may lead to ... In addition, a number of sign languages have developed in isolation and appear to have no relatives at all ...

Famous quotes containing the words family and/or language:

    The family is in flux, and signs of trouble are widespread. Expectations remain high. But realities are disturbing.
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