World Language Families

Did you know that English belongs to the same family of languages as Persian (spoken in Iran and Afghanistan), and Urdu and Hindi (spoken in Pakistan and many parts of India)?

language-families.png
Human Language families from Wikipedia.

This map found on Wikipedia divides the world’s major languages into 19 families and shows areas where they are spoken as a majority language.

(In fact there are many more than 19 groups – for a more complete index of world language families see this list from Ethnologue)

The most widely spoken language group is Indo-European (light green), a diverse group which besides English and most other European languages includes Persian, Hindi and Urdu.

Other widely spoken language families are:

Afro-Asiatic (yellow), which includes Arabic;

Niger-Congo (orange) languages of sub-saharan Africa;

Altaic (khaki), which includes Turkish and other Turkic languages spoken in Central Asia.

Sino-Tibetan languages are shown in red and from the map it seems that while Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, its strength comes (so far) from the size and growth of its domestic population rather than from its spread around the world.

Update: This post from Siberian Light examines European Languages in more detail, with emphasis on languages spoken in Russia.

Read More:
Dedicated follower of Chinglish: interview with a Chinglish spotter
Top 20 languages of the World: What are the most widely spoken languages in the world?
Top 10 languages on the Internet: the top languages on the internet are changing quickly

About the author

Lucy (Liz) Chatburn
Lucy is English and first ventured out of the UK she was 19. Since then she has lived in 4 different countries and tried to see as much of the world as possible. She loves learning languages, learning about different cultures and hearing different points of view.
Other 502 posts by