Language Families


The most well known of all language families is the Indo-European, which comprises roughly 12 major groups and hundreds of languages. The major groups or subfamilies are Celtic, Italic (including Romance), Baltic, Slavic, Germanic, Anatolian, Greek, Indic, Iranian, Tocharian, Albanian, and Armenian. In addition, it appears that Baltic and Slavic should form a larger Balto-Slavic group, and Indic and Iranian should be placed in an Indo-Iranian group.

Here's small list of words common to most Indo-European languages:
Group Language
"father" "mother" "brother" "two" "three" "four" "horse"
Germanic Old English fæder modor broðor twa thrie feowre eoh
Italic Latin pater mater frater duos tres quattuor equus
Celtic Old Irish athair mathair brathir do tri ceathair ech
Hellenic Greek pater meter phrater 1 duos tri tetra hippos
Indic Sanskrit pitar matar bhratar dva trayas chatvari asva
Iranian Avestan pitar matar bratar dwa trayo chatvaro aspa
Slavic Russian otech matka brat dva tri chetyre loshaa (kon)
Armenian Armenian hayr     erku erek' cork'  
Tocharian Tocharian B pacer macer procer wi trai s'twer yakwe
Proto-Indo-European *pəter *mater *bhrater *duwos *treyes *kwetores *ek'wos

1. Greek phrater means "clan member"


Another large language family is the Sino-Tibetan, including Sinitic (all forms of Chinese) on one main branch and Tibeto-Burman (Tibetan, Burmese, and thousands of others) on the other main branch.

In the following example tones are omitted so that I have less work to do :)  Also, note that I threw out Pinyin transliteration for Mandarin and used something of my own that also works for other dialects: /ś/ corresponds to voiceless palatal fricative (/x/ in Pinyin) much like /ch/ in German ich; /x/ is the voiceless velar fricative like /ch/ in Scottish loch; /ə/ is the central vowel schwa; /ʔ/ is the glottal stop; and /C/ means any stop consonant.
Group Language
"I", "me" "two" "three" "six" "name" "eye" "blood"
Sinitic Mandarin wo er san liu ming mu śie
Sinitic Yue ngo yi saam luk ming muk hüt
Sinitic Wu ngu liã se loʔ ming moʔ śiʔ
Sinitic Middle Chinese nguo ñi sam lyuk myeng muk xwiet
Sinitic Old Chinese nguo niys səm C-ruk myeng myək swi:t
TB Tibetan nga gñis gsum drug ming myak yi (1)
TB Burmese nga hnats sum khrok ə-mañ mig swiyh
TB Kachin ngai ñi məsum kruʔ mying myiʔ sai
TB Lepcha ka nyi sam ta-rak ming mik vi


One of the most well studies language groups in the Americas is the Uto-Aztecan, or Yuto-Nahuan, family. It currently stretches from western and southwestern United States to El Salvador, although in the past it reached the northwestern parts of Costa Rica. The most famous language of this group is Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

Group Language
"I", "me" "two" "three" "six" "name" "eye" "blood"
Numic Shoshone
Takic Luiseño
Hopi Hopi
Tübatulabal Tübatulabal
Taracahitic Yaqui
Tepiman Tohono O'odham (Pima)
Corachol Cora
Aztecan Nahuatl
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