Talk:Indo-European languages

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Former good article nominee Indo-European languages was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Northern Iran[edit]

Everyone in northern Iran speaks Persian. My grandparents (father side) are from Tabriz. Please change the picture. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:35, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Indo-European originated in Asia Minor[edit]

This is old news, and will remain little regarded by linguistic experts as long as Atkinson, Pagel & Co. stick to poor data and methods and completely miss the point.
Perhaps a link to Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses should be included in a prominent place within the article, as for lay readers, i. e., non-linguists, this is clearly a central issue. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 00:24, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

Removal of Messapic, Philistine and Thracian from the infobox...[edit]

I removed the aforementioned languages from the infobox for the following reasons:

1. Philistine is not confirmed to be an Indo-European language. It was merely suggested, by some linguists, that Philistine might have been an Indo-European language but there's nothing that can conclusively prove it was. Adding it to the infobox would be as ridiculous as adding Hunnic to the infobox, since some linguists have also theorized that Hunnic was an Indo-European language.

2. Messapic and Thracian were indeed Indo-European languages, but they were not subfamilies. In fact, there's no consensus on the exact classification of these two languages. The infobox is meant to list the immediate (i.e. first order) subdivisions of the Indo-European family, therefore it was not appropriate to list Messapic and Thracian in the infobox as their precise classifications within the language family have not been widely determined.

--Nadia (Kutsuit) (talk) 08:50, 25 May 2014 (UTC)


Why is Guyana shown in light green on the map? The national language, Guyanese Creole is an English-based creole, therefore rather manifestly an IE language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:24, 19 October 2014 (UTC)

True, Guyana should be colored in dark green. Also, Lebanon should be grey. --Nadia (Kutsuit) (talk) 14:00, 8 November 2014 (UTC)


I find it strange that an article on the most widely spoken language family that's well-recognized (I'm still holding out for Nostratic, woot woot!) includes no section on typical features of its languages. I'm sure there are a few that have been written about and that we could include, like fused person-number/gender/case (for nouns) and person-number/gender/tense (for verbs) suffixes, generally SOV word order, sex-based gender systems (usually male/female/neuter), and T/V second-person pronoun distinction. Tezero (talk) 22:31, 29 December 2014 (UTC)

A note on the context, scientific validity and bias of the assertion of the existence of Balto-Slavic[edit]

An editor has been repeatedly trying to insert text in the articles on Indo-European, Balto-Slavic and Baltic. There are, by my count, three other editors who are reverting these changes. I want to add my name to those who find these changes inappropriate, and to note that they should be justified in the talk page somewhere before trying again. I observe that the language of these changes is "chatty", not encyclopedic, and is not supported by appropriate citations. I think that appropriate action is warranted by an administrator if this text continues to appear without discussion. TomS TDotO (talk) 10:53, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

Would you mind giving a bit of context? What exactly is being inserted? Am I correct in gathering that it's a "manufactroversy" in the vein of Holocaust denial or global warming skepticism, in the sense of an idea that <1% of scholars agree with? Tezero (talk) 15:37, 12 January 2015 (UTC)
  • The "note on balto-slavic" is written in an entirely non encyclopedic style, as a personal essay, and it has no sources. We can certainly have a section about balto-slavic and the doubt about its validity as a grouping, but it would have to be written in an encyclopedic style and with reliable sources. It would be good to read our guidelines on editorializing and Verifiability.User:Maunus ·ʍaunus·snunɐw· 17:46, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Add to the edit warring in four different articles the personal attacks that this single purpose account has posted on individual Talk Pages and you get an individual who isn't interested in encyclopedic content, but only in pushing an agenda. --Taivo (talk) 18:21, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I suggest to move this talk to the appropriate main article. HJJHolm (talk) 15:36, 20 January 2015 (UTC)


In § Grouping, I'm adding a parenthetical note with a link to Genetic (linguistics):

(The word "genetic" here has nothing to do with human genetics; it refers to relationships between languages.)

The same page is linked from the word "genetic" in the immediately preceding sentence. While normally we wouldn't have a redundant second link so close to the first one, I feel that it's quite important to make it clear that words like "genetic" and "ancestor" here have nothing whatever to do with human genetics. There are already too many people who think that language and "race" are somehow intrinsically linked.

To discuss this, please {{Ping}} me. --Thnidu (talk) 03:03, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Warnow or Tarnow[edit]

§ Diversification refers to the work of "Don Ringe and Wendy Tarnow", but in the references and other mentions ("Ringe-Warnow model of language evolution") the second name is "Tandy [or T.] Warnow", confirmed by a Google search for the phrase. AWB finds the name first appearing here in the edit of 18:48, 30 April 2014, described as "(→‎Diversification: Copied info from Indo-European migrations, added link)". I'm correcting it in both articles.

To discuss this, please {{Ping}} me. --Thnidu (talk) 03:35, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Thanks! Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 05:30, 7 March 2015 (UTC)

Move discussion[edit]

A move discussion with connection to this article is open at Kurdish languages' talk page. Please read and join if you can help resolve it. Khestwol (talk) 17:29, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Why remove the political map of Indo-European languages?[edit]

Both the political and non-political maps of the IE languages should be present in the article. Why remove something that makes the article more informative? (talk) 10:18, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

because it is added by a sock of a banned editor who is block evading. And because the information presented is misleading. It shows most of Africa as Indo-European and all of Turkey (incl. Kurdish part) as non-Indo-European. We don't need such map. The other map, about the modern IE branches in Eurasia should stay in the top of this article. Khestwol (talk) 10:28, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
Looking back at the history of this article, the political map was always there. It's been in the article for many, many years. The onus is on the person who wishes to make the change to explain his/her changes instead of edit-warring. As for the maps, surely we can have both. We can relocate the political map to another section of the article instead of getting rid of it outright. The other maps aren't accurate by any means either. (talk) 10:32, 7 July 2015 (UTC)
  • I came up with a solution that makes all sides happy. You see, that's what editors should do on Wikipedia. We should give and take, and not let psychopathic power-hungry admins get in our way. (talk) 10:41, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

The political map is inappropriate for the infobox. This article is about the language family, not politics. Moreover, the non-political map contains information about the branches of the family. Nevertheless, the political map is okay for somewhere in the body of the article. --JorisvS (talk) 10:47, 7 July 2015 (UTC)

Which languages should be used as examples?[edit]

We should have some criteria for selecting which languages will serve as examples. I suggest that it is not appropriate just to use the most familiar, or widely spoken languages. I'd rather suggest that the we include languages which show the range of differences. So there should be examples from all of the extant branches of Indo-European, and all of the subbranches of the larger groups. So, I would definitely include a few of the Indic group. In the Romance group, I suggest that we don't have to include all of the well-known languages, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French: rather, I think we could have Sardinian, Romanian and Catalan. In the Germanic group, I would have Yiddish, Icelandic and maybe Gothic. Meanwhile, if we are going to drop a language from the present list, I'd drop one of the Baltic languages or Italian or Portuguese or Spanish or English - yes - after all, all of the readers do not need reminders of the English words! TomS TDotO (talk) 15:22, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

I agree a discussion is needed (and a bit amazed by the current "all is fine except Pashto"). The way I see it, there are different ways to go.
1 We could focus on the major languages. Then Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and French all make sense, even though they are closely related, as all have a large number of speakers.
2 We could try to get one from each group. Currently, some groups have a large number and others are more or less absent.
3 We could consider historic languages.
3 We could combine aspects of this, but not entirely random.
I'm glad TomS TDotO opened the discussion. I disagree with quite many of the arguments, though. I think English is needed, how else are readers supposed to know what the words mean? I'm not sure I see the logic behind picking Yiddish, Icelandic and Gothic, except if the idea is to pick dead or marginal languages from each group (and if that's the idea, I don't agree with that idea). German, English and Swedish would seem the most logic Germanic languages if combining size and language groups (Dutch is of course larger than Swedish, but very close to German).Jeppiz (talk) 15:29, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict)Agreed that widely known is not a good criterion. First, we should decide how many languages can be added. The current table has 15, and has maybe some room for one more, but that may depend on the reader's screen resolution. So 15–16 seems reasonable. There are eight extant branches, which should obviously be represented. So, there are seven or eight slots left. Both Baltic and Slavic should be represented. The main subdivisions of Indo-Aryan should also be represented, which then leaves four to five slots for other languages. --JorisvS (talk) 15:38, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
Thanks. I agree on that. As you say, all extant branches are of course a given. In some cases, I'd say it's rather easy to pick a language, as in Lithuanian obviously being more interesting for a comparison than Latvian, and being bigger as well. So Lithuanian seems an obvious choice. I would not be alien to including some extinct languages, mainly thinking about Latin, Ancient Greek and/or Sanskrit.Jeppiz (talk) 15:47, 17 July 2015 (UTC)


This is just a suggestion, of course open to discussions, for sixteen languages. No particular order intended.
1. Albanian - a given, the only language in its branch.
2. Armenian - a given, the only language in its branch.
3. Greek - a given, the only language in its branch.
4. Lithuanian - almost a given, no reason to pick Latvian instead.
5. Russian - largest Slavic language, and all Slavic languages are close.
6. English - a given, relevant for readers to understand the words.
7. German - largest Germanic bar English, and conservative.
8. Irish - most conservative Celtic language.
9. Welsh - perhaps. The Goidelic and Brythonic branches are very different.
10. Persian - as the main Iranian language.
11. Hindi - largest Indic language.
12. Italian - most conservative of the major Romance languages.
13. Other romance - An argument could be made for any of them.
14. Swedish - possibly, to a Northern Germanic language.
15. Sanskrit - the oldest preserved IE language.
16. Latin - perhaps, but several other relevant options.
Again, this is just a suggestion, good arguments can be made for several other options.Jeppiz (talk) 16:04, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

As for the Romance languages,the best choises are Italian,as it is the most conservative of the major modern Romance languages and Latin .As for the Slavic languages,the best choises are Russian(East Slavic),Polish (West Slavic) and/or Serbo-Croatian(South Slavic).Anyways this is a suggestion.Rolandi+ (talk) 16:34, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

  • Also add one Eastern Iranian language and one Nuristani language to complete the table. Welsh could be removed when we have Irish to represent the almost extinct Celtic branch. If editors are interested in extinct languages also add Tocharian language. Khestwol (talk) 16:53, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
    • Hittite as the oldest attested, and important for IE studies. As long as we're committed to English, I suggest that we drop the closely related German. If we're allowing extinct languages, Gothic is more interesting. As far as "other romance", Romanian as a representative of a different branch (and I realize that I'm not going to convince anybody of Sardinian). TomS TDotO (talk) 22:22, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
      • Actually, English has the least reason to be in the table. On the English Wikipedia, everybody knows the numerals in English. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 23:11, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
        • Entirely true, but please see below. When we update the table, we shouldn't just stick to numbers, not if the idea is the provide a relevant overview.Jeppiz (talk) 23:15, 17 July 2015 (UTC)
  • What about Avestan? Or Ossetian (as a living descendant of Scytho-Sarmatian languages). --Zyma (talk) 08:50, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
  • In general I think large lists or tables of cognates are not appropriate for articles on language families. Secondly I think English is of course necessarily included, since the meaning of the cognate set has to be given, and since being the English encyclopedia it makes sense to show any interesting examples where we have an odd cognate relative to the other languages. If we really need a table of IE cognates, I think we should spin it out as a list article with an in situ summary here. I would suggest including Hittite and Tocharian because of their importance for reconstruction and to use Icelandic as the sole example of a North Germanic language. Also Latin is better than Italian - and if we need a second Italic it should be a Sabellian language. ·maunus · snunɐɯ· 17:00, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Another suggestion[edit]

There are 9 language families. So that is how many languages we need to put in the table, one language per family. Or, we might pick two languages per family, an old language and a modern one. Any extra languages we include should have a linguistic reason for being there. -- Kautilya3 (talk) 23:14, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

Good but for example how do you want to pick 1 or 2 for Balto-Slavic and Indo-Iranian families? --Zyma (talk) 18:00, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I would pick two for each of those - butput them in a separate list article.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:03, 18 July 2015 (UTC)


Apart from the discussion about which languages to include, it would seem very relevant to decide which items to use. Currently it's just the numbers 1-10, which seems rather uninteresting. Let's avoid too long tables, but I'd recommend numbers 1-5 and then around ten different items.Jeppiz (talk) 22:37, 17 July 2015 (UTC)

The table in question is in the subsection (in fact, makes it up in its entirety) "Numerals". It's current purpose (see my further comments below), i.e. the only reason it exists in the article, is to show the different forms of the numbers 1-10.--William Thweatt TalkContribs 00:34, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Purpose of the table in question?[edit]

All of this discussion begs the question: what is the purpose including this table in the article? Before we start deciding on what to put in the table, we should make clear why the table is there. Is it just simply to list 1-10 in random IE languages? Is it to demonstrate the similarity of forms across the constituent language families to confirm the languages are indeed related? Is it to demonstrate outliers, divergent innovations or a variety of forms? etc., etc.? All the talk about what to include seems pointless (and subject to endless future debate and bloat) if we don't first define the purpose of the table's existence.--William Thweatt TalkContribs 00:34, 18 July 2015 (UTC)

Yes, good question. In many encyclopaedias, there is a similar table on Indo-European languages, usually with words that remain intact in many of the languages. "Father" and "mother" are rather typical examples. I would posit that a table that lets readers see the similarities, but without overdoing it (ie only going for words that are the same in all languages) would be the best thing.Jeppiz (talk) 01:49, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
I would argue that we don't need such a table in the article, but could make the table as a standalone list article. And I would argue that if we really really have to have a table of cognates it should have no more than 2 - 4 etyma, father, mother, brother, 2, would be good candidates.·maunus · snunɐɯ· 19:02, 18 July 2015 (UTC)
father, mother, brother are so similar that they would show much the same thing. But I'm afraid that we're looking for a perfect solution when we all can agree that Latvian (with no offense to its speakers) should be replaced with Hindi; and Spanish, Portuguese, and French should be replaced with Irish, Hittite, and Albanian. That should be simple. And then, if there is further interest, we can argue forever over making a perfect table. TomS TDotO (talk) 03:46, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Actually, I dont think that it is a problem that they show much the same thing. The only thing the table should illustrate is the relatedness of all the branches (which is why it should show languages from all the main branches not the most populous languages today). It should be very few etyma - if a table is to be used at all (which I dont think).·maunus · snunɐɯ· 06:59, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
There is an article List of numbers in various languages which covers the subject very well.
There are three different lists which cover number words in various Indo-European languages much better than this list. If there is no objection in a couple of days, I will remove this list. TomS TDotO (talk) 03:40, 28 July 2015 (UTC)

Europe to India or India to Europe[edit]

There are two main reasons for listing Indo-European as being "From Europe to India":

  • The majority of branches in IE are in Europe and the fewest in India
  • The reading direction for English speakers, and, consequently, the normal direction for scanning a map, is left to right, thus, west to east.

--Taivo (talk) 21:51, 25 August 2015 (UTC)

Absolutely. I also don't understand comments like "origin of Indo first" and "linguistic order". Is this Indigenous Aryans and Out of India all over again? We have firmly established that they were fringe theories. - Kautilya3 (talk) 22:56, 25 August 2015 (UTC)
I supplied a citation which mentions the direction Western Europe to India. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 23:36, 25 August 2015 (UTC)

TaivoLinguist, Kautilya3, Dr.K. Let's get a few things clear:

  • This sentence isn't about how many more branches are in Europe or where it geographically originated from (as some above may assume with their Aryan obsessions), but an indication of how the word Indo-European was formed.
  • The reading direction, left to right, Indo-European, Northeast India then Western Europe. I don't think anyone is thinking of a map when they are trying to found out the origin of the word Indo-European.
  • This article is titled Indo-European languages. Describing it as extending from Western Europe to India right after explaining why it's called Indo-European doesn't seem fit.
  • "Thomas Young coined the term "Indo-European" in 1813, from Indo- + European, after the geographical extremes of the language family: from Northeast India to Western Europe."
  • The above sounds much better than what it is currently:
"Thomas Young coined the term "Indo-European" in 1813, from Indo- + European, after the geographical extremes of the language family: from Western Europe to Northeast India."
The above would sound better if the article and language family was titled Euro-Indian or something as Euro is the first part of the word and Indian is the second.
  • So what if the citations said European first?
  • What you're promoting is like saying the origin of the word Indochina is from China and India. Normally one would say India then China first, right? Why? Perhaps because it forms the first part of the word?
One would also say the Sino-Indian War was a war between China and India. China comes first (sino) then Indian. It LINGUISTICALLY sounds right. One wouldn't say the war was between India and China, even though it means the same thing.Filpro (talk) 03:36, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

With your reasons such as "Western Europe should be mentioned first because it has more primitive language branches blah blah Aryan invasion" sounds immature and it seems like you don't understand the context of these sections in the article or are trying to prove some other hidden point.

You don't seem to understand the way Wikipedia works. If reliable sources all say "Europe to India", then that's what we follow. And reading direction absolutely matters because this is the English Wikipedia. In addition, most textbooks on linguistics that cover the branches of Indo-European in English start with the European branches and end with the Indo-Iranian branch. The exceptions are few. That is just the way it is. English linguists learn Indo-Iranian last and the European branches first. Your arguments are just your personal opinion and have nothing to do with any facts. Opinion doesn't matter.
  • "Indo-European Languages," International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (2:206): "...the languages of Europe...and extends across Iran to the northern half of the Indian subcontinent."
  • David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, Second Edition (298): "...throughout Europe and many parts of southern Asia."
  • P.H. Matthews, Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics (192): "...its western Europe and, at its eastern limit,...all but the southern part of the Indian subcontinent."
  • Edward Finegan, Language, Its Structure and Use, Seventh Edition (436): "...most languages of well as most languages of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and most of India."
  • Strang Burton et al., Linguistics for Dummies (187): "Europe, Iranian plateau, South Asia"
  • David Dalby, The Linguasphere Register of the World's Languages and Speech Communities (2:385): "...across much of Eurasia, from Iceland and the British Isles in the northwest to Sri Lanka in the south..."
  • The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (921): "...the languages of Europe as well as those of Iran, the Indian subcontinent, and other parts of Asia."
  • "Indo-European Languages," The World's Major Languages (33): "..a large part of Europe and parts of southwestern and southern Asia."
  • George L. Campbell, Concise Compendium of the World's Languages (247): "stretching from Ireland to Assam, and from Norway and central Russia to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and Central India."
  • Carlos Quiles, A Grammar of Modern Indo-European (23): "...most of the major languages of Europe, as well as many in Asia."
  • J.P. Mallory & D.Q. Adams, The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (6): "...the languages of Europe and some of those of Asia..."
  • James Clackson, Indo-European Linguistics, An Introduction (2): "...lived in Europe, Iran, Turkey, Western Asia and the Indian subcontinent..."
Those are just off my personal shelves where I could quickly find a statement along the lines of "The Indo-European languages are spoken..." or something similar. Not a single time was India placed first and Europe last. Not once. There are two very simple reasons for this traditional ordering: 1) English speakers read maps from left to right, and 2) English speakers (this is the English Wikipedia) typically describe things from the point of view of England first. You don't have any basis for "India first" other than your personal desire. --Taivo (talk) 05:02, 27 August 2015 (UTC)
@Taivo I completely agree with Europe to India, but completely disagree with your map arguement. --YOMAL SIDOROFF-BIARMSKII (talk) 05:48, 4 November 2015 (UTC)

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Colour of Malaysia on the map[edit]

How do we justify the colouring of Malaysia, when the article Malaysian English does not seem to support any official status? Is there any objective (sourced) criterion by which the role of English in Malaysia is significantly more important than, say, French in Tunisia?--Lieven Smits (talk) 15:00, 31 August 2015 (UTC)

Colour of South Africa on the map[edit]

The article Languages of South Africa does not suggest a secondary official role for the IE languages English and Afrikaans, so it would seem justified to colour that country dark green. --Lieven Smits (talk) 15:14, 31 August 2015 (UTC)