History : Jan-Feb 2019
Umbrian ALBANIAN BALTIC OSCANCLASSICALLATINSpanishCatalanGalicianPortugueseFrenchItalianRomansh Oscan SloveneS erb o-CroatianBulgarian Mac edonianPoli sh EslovakCzechRussianUkrainian Be l oruss i a n L ithuani an Gheg Tos k Armeni anWESTSLAVICEAST SLAVIC BALTO-SLAVICCLASSIC AL AR MENIANAR M ENIAN VULGAR LATIN Romanian LatvianPrussianILLUSTRATION:SANTIPÉREZ.MAP:ALAMY/ACI NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 21 SLAVICSOUTHSLAVIC IN 1815 EUROPEAN POWERS HELD COLONIES IN LANDS FAR FROM HOME. IMPERIALISM SPREAD INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGES— ESPECIALLY ENGLISH AND SPANISH—ALL OVER THE WORLD. Life and Death of Languages Of the 10 main branches that spring from Indo-European, two are extinct: Anatolian and Tocharian. The latter was once spoken in the Tarim Basin, today in northwestern China, and represents the easternmost reach of this prodigious family of languages. Texts written in Anatolian, Indo-Iranian, and Greek are among the oldest of Indo-European languages that have been found on artifacts by archaeologists. Some branches, such as the Indo-Iranian group, split into a complex series of subbranches, which in turn sprouted with numerous languages now spoken across swathes of modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iran. Other principal branches, such as Albanian or Armenian, are centered on much smaller populations. Some branches have waxed and waned geographically: The Celtic branch— today associated with Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Brittany—once comprised languages spoken in modern-day Spain and Turkey. From the Renaissance on, European colonial expansion exported Indo-European languages all over the globe into different parts of the world. A language derived from Vulgar Latin, Spanish, and an obscure West Germanic language, English, became respectively the second and third most-spoken native languages in the world today.