Mother of the Western Languages


Language has been a medium, since the dawn of time, in which man has communicated in. This essential tool to express emotions, feelings, and ideas has served humans to achieve remarkable feats no other living creature has yet been able to accomplish. But many wonder how did language come about? Why do the languages of Europe seem similar yet different? In this essay I shall briefly explain the origins of most languages of Europe and how they have evolved to their present day structure.

The largest family of languages to this day is known as the Indo-European family Language family. Approximately 50% of the world’s population speaks a language from this language family. The name of this family group is derived for the reason that the geographic range of speakers of this language live anywhere from Ireland to India. Many believe that this language group has descended from Proto-Indo European which existence circa 4000 B.C. According to the most recent archaeological records scientists speculate that these people were known as the Kurgans and they resided somewhere between Vistula and Elbe rivers, on the Baltic coast of what is now Germany. These Kurgans were nomadic peoples who were hunter and gatherers and lived off northern mammal game. However, due to climatical and game extinction, a Diaspora occurred as hunters and gatherers chased game and formed bands which eventually became tribes in order to hunt game. As these tribes migrated further and further away from each other the original Proto-Indo-European language evolved giving rise to many of the modern day languages ranging from Polish to Persian. Today from this small Germanic tribe and the scattered peoples of the Caucus mountains near the Black sea, over 150 languages exist and dot every continent of the World.

When examining this family group it is divided into two major sub-sections. These two sub groups are known as Satem and Centum. Centum is the sub stock given to most of the languages in Western Europe whereas Satem is the language stock given mostly to Eastern European and Asian tongues of the Indo-European family. Some Satem languages include Russian, Ukranian, and Punjabi. On the other hand some examples of Centum languages include, English, Spanish, and Greek. Another characteristic of this language group is that it is an inflective language family. This means that the words change in form depending on its grammatical placement or use in a sentence. An example of this would be something like in German where friend (male) would be Freund and friend (female) would be Freundin. Lastly but not least, kinship, numerals, and parts of the body have an eerily similar word relation which shows further evidence of the relationship of these languages. This can be seen as “mata” “pita” and “Bhraartra” in Sanskirt for mother, father, and brother in English. These few words in themselves show how even after 6000 years of separtation, the Proto-Indo-European tongue has managed to change only relatively slightly.

Therefore, as one can see this, interesting language family has a unique history behind it. Many people find it hard to imagine that such a small group of peoples managed to influence such a hefty bulky of the world’s speakers through their words. However, as explained it happened out of food necessity not choice. Thus, all in all, this concludes my essay on the Indo-European language family.


The Early History Of Indo-European Languages. 05 Jan. 1996. 27 June 2004

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE: INDO-EUROPEANS AND PRE-INDO-EUROPEANS. Edited by John Greppin and T. L. Markey. Karoma Publishers, Inc., 1990

"Indo-Eruopean." 20 Jan. 2003. INfo Please Encyclopedia. 27 June 2004