What are Indo-European languages

Indo-European languages ​​originated in Anatolia

The Indo-European - or Indo-European - languages ​​are among the most widespread language families in the world and have been researched relatively well as written languages ​​for around 2000 years. However, the point in time and place of their origin are still controversial among scientists. A large international team, including Max Planck scientist Michael Dunn, has now presented the results of an innovative phylogeographic Bayesian analysis of linguistic and spatial data from Indo-European languages.

The majority of historical linguists are of the opinion that the Indo-European language family originated around 6000 years ago in the Pontic steppe in today's Ukraine. The proof of this is provided by linguistic paleontology: certain words that are used in connection with the technology of wheeled vehicles can be found in all branches of the Indo-European language family. We also know from archeology that wheeled vehicles only appeared at this point in time. Few researchers, on the other hand, favor another theory, according to which the Indo-European (Indo-European) languages ​​have their common origin 8000 to 9000 years ago in present-day Anatolia, from where they are said to have spread along with agriculture.

Lexicon combined with diffusion of speakers

This week in the Science published results support the opinion held by the minority in a decisive way. The analysis described there combines a model of the lexicon development of individual languages ​​with an explicit spatial distribution model of speakers of these languages. The history of known events - the time of the first evidence of a dead language as well as events that can be inferred from archaeological findings or historical evidence - are used to calibrate the derived language family tree to the time aspect.

Meaning of phylogenetic family trees

The lexical data for this analysis come from the Indo-European Lexical Cognacy Database (IELex), which was developed by the Evolutionary Processes in Language and Culture group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics. It provides a comprehensive, high-quality collection of speech data suitable for phylogenetic analysis. In addition to the actual interest, the elucidation of the history of language families and their speakers, phylogenetic trees are crucial for understanding the development and diversity of many humanities, from syntax and semantics to social structure.