Chapter 5.2 Language

Distribution of Languages

Indo-European Family

  • Most widely spoken family
  • English belongs to this family

Altaic Family

  • Spoken across a 5,000 mile band of Asia between Turkey and China
  • Turkish is the most widely used Altaic language

Sino-Tibetan Family

  • Encompasses the languages of China


  • Isolated language
  • Unrelated to any other language family
  • Written in part to Chinese characters

Austro-Asiatic Family

  • Based in southeast Asia
  • Vietnamese is the most spoken Austro-Asiatic language
  • Vietnamese alphabet was devised in the 17th century by Roman Catholic missionaries

Austronesian Family

  • Language is mostly spoken in Indonesia
  • Malagasy is spoken by people in Madagascar
  • Shows people from Indonesia moved to Madagascar

Dravidian Family

  • Language is spoken in India and northern Siri Lanka
  • Between 35 and 70 million speak four languages un this family
  • Origin is unknown

Niger-Congo Family

  • More than 1000 distinct languages have been documented in Africa
  • Only five languages are spoken by more than 10 million people

Afro-Asiatic Family

  • Includes Arabic and Hebrew
  • Arabic is the official language in two dozen countries in the Middle East
  • Hebrew was an extinct language until it was revived in the late 20th century




Latin and Its Indo-European Language Family
How languages evolve - Alex Gendler