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It turns out that most of the major language families of Europe and western Asia are related into one superfamily, referred to as Indo-European. The various subgroups of Indo-European include:

The original homeland of the speakers of ProtoIndoEuropean? (PIE) is not known for certain, but probably lies somewhere around the black sea. Most of the subgroups diverged and had spread out over much of Europe and the MiddleEast? during the fourth and third millenia BC. Discussion of PIE culture has been stalled by its association with the racist doctrines of NationalSocialism, but enormous amounts of work has been done on its structure and vocabulary.

These are all InflectedLanguages? unlike, say, SinoTibetanLanguages. Some work indicates they may belong to a hypothetical language superfamily called the NostraticLanguages?. For those interested in such things, the original sounds appear to be

   p   t   ky  k   kw                   Voiceless stops
   b   d   gy  g   gw                   Voiced stops
   bh  dh  ghy gh  ghw                  Voiced aspirated stops

   s   z   H1  H2  H3                   Spirants, laryngeals (quality unknown)
   r   l   y   w   m   n                Semi-vowels, nasals (all can be vocalic)

   a   e   i   o   u                    Short vowels
            ?  ?                   Long vowels

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Last edited January 30, 2001 5:24 pm by rees.math.uwaterloo.ca (diff)