Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

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

196.jpg

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

Related

flight-concept-04.jpg

Would you fly on a windowless plane?

2 (1).jpg

Right to die cancer sufferer Brittany Maynard travels to Grand Canyon

21.jpg

30 beautiful pairs of party shoes all under £100

Comments

More

The top 5 food and drink trends you’ll be seeing at weddings this year

The rise of the brunch wedding (we’re on board)

by Amy Swales
30 Mar 2017

Meet Sebastian and Luna: two dogs with a love that is real and true

They just got engaged, because of course.

by Moya Crockett
30 Mar 2017

Two thirds of us wouldn't recognise the symptoms of ovarian cancer

Would you be able to identify the telltale signs?

by Hayley Spencer
29 Mar 2017

Watch this moving video about representation in the arts

This dance company hopes to inspire young African American girls

29 Mar 2017

10 brides explain why they chose to have a bridesmaid-free wedding

Is less really more when it comes to your wedding party?

by Kayleigh Dray
29 Mar 2017

Lego builder: it's a real job and you can apply for it

Legoland is hiring a model designer

by Amy Swales
29 Mar 2017

A man has been cleared of sexual assault because he didn’t ‘enjoy’ it

Diego Cruz Alonso, 21, was found not guilty of assault on Monday.

by Moya Crockett
29 Mar 2017

“Dating with bipolar: how I learnt to be open about my mental health”

One writer's frank account of opening up to a new partner

29 Mar 2017

Watch hilarious video that debunks idea women are bad at maths

The 1980s-inspired send-up encourages women to pursue STEM careers

29 Mar 2017

Sexist tube ad comparing a woman to a house extension taken down

But it shouldn't have been made in the first place.

by Hayley Spencer
29 Mar 2017