Proto-Indo-European Language

The Communication discipline is distinct in many ways from Linguistics/Philology, but in both fields there is a strong focus on language. This is why I’d like to introduce you to something I’d never heard of before, the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). But first, I’ll give a brief overview of Indo-European (IE) languages.

Indo-European Languages

Indo-European languages are the most popular on Earth in terms of speakers, today about three billion humans across all inhabited continents speak about 445 versions of them. Just some examples of IE languages are: Spanish, English, Hindi, French, Russian, Portuguese, Nepali, Armenian, Serbian, Afrikaans, and Persian. Check out the image showing the distribution of these languages. Also, here’s a more exhaustive list.

Distribution of Indo-European Languages (source).

Indo-European languages are so diverse it might seem crazy to think of them as related in any way, but that is exactly what linguists have proven to be the case through analysis of history and the languages themselves.

How is it possible that 445 languages spoken by three billion people across the entire world are all related? This answer is the Proto-Indo-European language.

Proto-Indo-European Language

The Proto-Indo-European language is seen by experts as the common ancestor of all the IE languages we have today, and linguists believe it was spoken by people about 5,500 years ago (around 3,500 BC) north of what we today call the Black Sea. The fascinating thing here is that we have no official record of this PIE language having ever existed, but researchers strongly believe it did based on their historical work, looking at how IE languages formed and spread over the past few thousand years.

Isn’t this absolutely fascinating? I think it is, and I think all of us non-linguists should at least be aware that this PIE  language existed, because it is the basis for the symbolic verbal system many people today use to communicate with each other.

Finally, knowing that many of our diverse languages actually share one common ancestor may help us to realize just how similar we, and our respective cultures, really are.

Disclaimer: The above post is an old one, which I am reposting on this new website. It has been edited.

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