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Beautiful illustration of linguistic family tree shows origins of the world's most popular languages


We'd never be so bold as to suggest we can give you a history lesson on where and how language began (our linguistics correspondent is out of the office today) but we can show you where English came from.

In a beautiful illustration of the ultimate linguistic family tree, we're treated to look at where the our language came from and which languages influenced our very speech today. 

 Illustrator Minna Sundberg, who also writes the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, created the design to show how old languages are and how far back they go. While there are no dates attached to the graphic, she does write that "the sizes of the branches represent the recorded native speakers since the year 0". 

It all begins with the biggest tree of all, which is the Indo-European trunk, from which nearly all modern languages originate. From there it splits into to two trees - the European side and the Indo-Iranian side. Of course, English comes from the former partition, but it still has to go a long way before it becomes the language we know and use today.

The European section splits into eight factions, including Germanic, Romance and Slavic. Romance forms the beginnings of languages such as Spanish, Italian and French but it's the Germanic side that is the root of English. 

The Germanic trunk splits into west Germanic and east Germanic, and from the west side comes English by way of Anglo-Frisian and Scots too, all of which helped to form our language today. 

Minna has also done a more detailed comparison of the Nordic languages below, and you can see how these compare to our words in English. 

Take a look at the origins of all other languages currently being spoken across the world. 

Click on the image below to enlarge

Linguistic family tree illustration



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