List of Indo-European languages

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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]) languages and dialects spoken by about or more than three billion and 500 million 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. 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.

In 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 the European discoveries, 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


Albanian language[edit]

Distribution of modern Albanian dialects.

Anatolian languages (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.
Baltic languages (extinct languages shown in stripes).
Slavic languages in Europe (2008). Areas where languages overlap are shown in stripes.

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.[4]
Western group: Central group:
Eastern group:
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.[5]

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 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.
Distribution of major modern Iranian languages.
Geographic distribution of modern Iranian languages (Central Iran languages are shown in blue dots).

Italic languages[edit]

Iron Age Italy (c.500 B.C.). Italic languages in green colours.
European extent of Romance languages in the 20th century.
Romance languages in Europe (major dialect groups are also shown).
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 (extinct)[edit]

Tocharian languages A (blue), B (red) and C (green) in the Tarim Basin.[7] 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

  • Ancient Belgian language/Belgic (part of Celtic, related to Celtic, Italic, or part of the Nordwestblock) (possibly part of an older Pre-Celtic Indo-European branch)
  • Ancient Ligurian (possibly related to Italic or Celtic)
  • Brygian (part of or closely related to Phrygian language and possibly also related to Greek, Phrygian speakers that stayed in Northern Greece and southern Thrace)
  • Cimmerian (possibly related to Thracian or Iranian)
  • Dardanian (Illyrian, Dacian, mixed Thracian-Illyrian or a transitional Thracian-Illyrian language)
  • Lusitanian (part of Celtic, related to Celtic, Ligurian, Italic, Sorothaptic, Nordwestblock, or his own branch) (possibly part of an older Pre-Celtic Indo-European branch)
  • Paleo-Balkan languages (Geographical grouping, not genealogical)
    • Dacian (possibly related to Thracian)
    • Illyrian languages (one is a possible ancestor of Albanian)
    • Liburnian (possibly related to Venetic)
    • Messapian (possibly related to Illyrian languages, spoken in today's Apulia, Italy, but possibly originated in Dalmatia, Western Balkans)
    • Paionian (possibly related to Thracian, Illyrian, or Anatolian)
    • Phrygian (may have been more closely related to Greek, also a possible ancestor of Armenian, East Phrygians may have spoken a language ancestor of Armenian)
    • Thracian (possibly related to Dacian)
  • Venetic (extinct; either Italic or closely related to Italic)

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)
  • 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.
  4. ^ Roger D. Woodard (2008), "Greek dialects", in: The Ancient Languages of Europe, ed. R. D. Woodard, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 51.
  5. ^ Dawkins, R.M. 1916. Modern Greek in Asia Minor. A study of dialect of Silly, Cappadocia and Pharasa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  6. ^ "Ancient Macedonian". MultiTree: A Digital Library of Language Relationships. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  7. ^ Mallory & Mair (2000), pp. 67, 68, 274.

External links[edit]