The Tree of Languages Illustrated in a Big, Beautiful Infographic

Language Infographic

Click image, then click again, to enlarge

Call it coun­ter­in­tu­itive click­bait if you must, but Forbes’ Pas­cal-Emmanuel Gob­ry made an intrigu­ing argu­ment when he grant­ed the title of “Lan­guage of the Future” to French, of all tongues. “French isn’t most­ly spo­ken by French peo­ple and hasn’t been for a long time now,” he admits,” but “the lan­guage is grow­ing fast, and grow­ing in the fastest-grow­ing areas of the world, par­tic­u­lar­ly sub-Saha­ran Africa. The lat­est pro­jec­tion is that French will be spo­ken by 750 mil­lion peo­ple by 2050. One study “even sug­gests that by that time, French could be the most-spo­ken lan­guage in the world, ahead of Eng­lish and even Man­darin.”

I don’t know about you, but I can nev­er believe in any wave of the future with­out a trace­able past. But the French lan­guage has one, of course, and a long and sto­ried one at that. You see it visu­al­ized in the infor­ma­tion graph­ic above (also avail­able in suit­able-for-fram­ing prints!) cre­at­ed by Min­na Sund­berg, author of the web­com­ic Stand Still. Stay Silent

“When lin­guists talk about the his­tor­i­cal rela­tion­ship between lan­guages, they use a tree metaphor,” writes Men­tal Floss’ Ari­ka Okrent. “An ancient source (say, Indo-Euro­pean) has var­i­ous branch­es (e.g., Romance, Ger­man­ic), which them­selves have branch­es (West Ger­man­ic, North Ger­man­ic), which feed into spe­cif­ic lan­guages (Swedish, Dan­ish, Nor­we­gian).”

Sund­berg takes this tree metaphor to a delight­ful­ly lav­ish extreme, trac­ing, say, how Indo-Euro­pean lin­guis­tic roots sprout­ed a vari­ety of mod­ern-day liv­ing lan­guages includ­ing Hin­di, Por­tuguese, Russ­ian, Ital­ian — and, of course, our Lan­guage of the Future. The size of the branch­es and bunch­es of leaves rep­re­sent the num­ber of speak­ers of each lan­guage at dif­fer­ent times: the likes of Eng­lish and Span­ish have sprout­ed into mighty veg­e­ta­tive clus­ters, while oth­ers, like, Swedish, Dutch, and Pun­jabi, assert a more local dom­i­nance over their own, sep­a­rate­ly grown region­al branch­es. Will French’s now-mod­est leaves one day cast a shad­ow over the whole tree? Per­haps — but I’m not can­cel­ing my plans to attend Span­ish prac­tice group tonight.

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via Men­tal Floss

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Learn 48 Lan­guages Online for Free: Span­ish, Chi­nese, Eng­lish & More

The His­to­ry of the Eng­lish Lan­guage in Ten Ani­mat­ed Min­utes

How Lan­guages Evolve: Explained in a Win­ning TED-Ed Ani­ma­tion

Noam Chom­sky Talks About How Kids Acquire Lan­guage & Ideas in an Ani­mat­ed Video by Michel Gondry

Stephen Fry Gets Ani­mat­ed about Lan­guage

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (168)
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  • Turgut Berkes says:

    As a Turk I’m amazed that Tur­kic lan­guages, spo­ken as a native lan­guage by some 170 mil­lion peo­ple is not in your tree. The total num­ber of Tur­kic speak­ers, includ­ing sec­ond-lan­guage speak­ers.

    Any expla­na­tion for this omis­sion?

  • Aziz Baaziz says:

    Yes, and also the Ara­bic Lan­guage, spo­ken as a native lan­guage by 290 mil­lion peo­ple (2010)…
    Mod­ern Stan­dard Ara­bic is an offi­cial lan­guage of 27 states, the third most after Eng­lish and French.

  • Manfred says:

    I assume, because the tree rep­re­sents the Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages (and the Ural­ic lan­guages, I guess because of their spread in north­ern Europe).

    The Tur­kic lan­guages are not part of these, but of the Alta­ic lan­guages. Also not shown are the Sino-Tibetan lan­guages with more than a bil­lion speak­ers, the Hami­to-Semit­ic lan­guages with around 500 mil­lion speak­ers and oth­er lan­guage fam­i­lies.

  • Aleksi says:

    Geor­gian lan­guage miss­ing! It has its own alpha­bet and his­to­ry longer than most langeages on the image:(

  • Ulvin says:

    The Basque lan­guage is miss­ing, too. A unique lan­guage with almost no com­mu­nal­i­ties with any oth­er lan­guage.

  • Francois says:

    Why are the African lan­guages miss­ing from this arti­cle and info­graph­ic?

  • Enes Faruk says:

    I’ll just copy one of my ear­li­er com­ments from face­book.

    “First of all, this infor­graph­ic is a part of an ongo­ing web-com­ic series called “SSSS” (“Stand Still. Stay Silent — web­com­ic”) which is about a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic future where only Nordic coun­tries (Scan­di­navia + Ice­land + Fin­land) remains on earth. So it is makes sense that the artist only men­tioned the roots of theese coun­tries’ lan­guages in her art­work.”

    Noıw go fig­ure it out:

  • Nina says:

    Fran­cois you know why. The authors of this info­graph­ic and this arti­cle do not believe that Africans are humans or that they’re sub­hu­man and there­fore their lan­guages don’t count. Got­ta love white suprema­cy! It’s so…consistent.

  • Korhan says:

    The prob­lem lies in the writer of this arti­cle who mis­named their arti­cle. The title of the info­graph­ic is very clear, while the writer, for some rea­son, either care­less­ness or igno­rance, named their arti­cle as the tree of lan­guages. A com­mon mis­take done by many West­ern­ers.

    Turk­ish and any language/language fam­i­ly that have noth­ing to do with the Nordic lan­guages do not belong here.

  • Elizabeth says:

    The lan­guage tree specif­i­cal­ly con­cerns the lan­guages still spo­ken in the post-apoc­a­lyp­tic world the com­ic is set in. So she was­n’t try­ing to map all world lan­guages, just the ones that her char­ac­ters speak. It’s a real­ly good com­ic, by the way.

  • Irakli says:

    … და რა ხდება ქართული ენის შესახებ ?? (… and what about Geor­gian ??)

  • Sam says:

    A strange tree of lan­guages that does­n’t men­tion San­skrit, Latin, Japan­ese, or Chi­nese. Cute, but use­less.

    Look­ing more close­ly, I see that it declares itself a tree of “Nordic” lan­guages. The speak­ers of Indic lan­guages would have a good laugh at that! It’s the oth­er way around. The Indic lan­guages turned into the tiny hand­ful of Nordic lan­guages spo­ken by almost no one, not the oth­er way around.

    Very mis­lead­ing– don’t like. Not edu­ca­tion­al– at all.

  • Dani says:

    Can peo­ple here actu­al­ly read? If so, look up the def­i­n­i­tion of “Old World” — the title in the cen­tre of the map.

  • Pioro says:

    A ton of Slav­ic lan­guages miss­ing like Sor­bian, Kashu­bian, Sile­sian, Rusyn, and Lusa­t­ian — all of which are still spo­ken liv­ing lan­guages.

  • MG says:

    Under Indic lan­guages “Gujarati” is miss­ing. One of the largest after Marathi I believe.

  • Joey says:


    Pre­sump­tu­ous — and per­haps even more spite­ful than the per­pe­tra­tors of the assumed offense.

  • joaco says:

    Hey all of you whose amaz­ing lan­guage is not on the tree:
    Get over your­selves. Nobody will care about your dumb com­ments.

  • josep says:

    And Valen­cian too!

  • Iker says:

    The BASQUE lan­guage or Euskara, is miss­ing (like African lan­guages, and many oth­er). It’s Pre-IndoEu­ro­pean and noone knows about the ori­gin.

  • Tamara says:

    Where is the Geor­gian Lan­guage?

  • KingkillerLirim says:

    I would also do a more in-depth research on hell­nic and not be so fast to real­ly cred­it the Greeks there..

  • Rencia says:

    Not only miss­ing lan­guages, all the leaves go to ENGLISH, so despro­por­cional: real sub­lim­i­nal crap.

  • Mardorwe says:

    Please don’t be so cranky, peo­ple. It’s the Indo-Euro­pean tree. So, no, it does­n’t include Turk­ish and Basque. It does­n’t include Asian and African lan­guages. And it does­n’t include Native Amer­i­can lan­guages either. Or Semit­ic lan­guages. That does­n’t make the cre­ator of this par­tic­u­lar dia­gram a white suprema­cist, any more than I’m a white suprema­cist.
    On the oth­er hand, peo­ple point­ing out miss­ing lan­guages aren’t mak­ing “dumb com­ments” either.
    Is there a dia­gram for every lan­guage every­where? Maybe. I don’t know. Let’s go look for one. We don’t have to hold hands and skip while we look, but we should be able to have a civ­il con­ver­sa­tion about it.

  • Roxanne says:

    We need to cre­ate anoth­er tree with the ara­bic lan­guages :D

  • vittorio e. pisu says:

    You also for­got Sar­dinia with sev­er­al lan­guages “camp­i­danese, bar­bari­ci­no, gal­lurese, sul­ci­tano”
    who existe before latin.
    Thank you for make a corec­tion of your tree.

  • Nicola says:

    Shall i buy a poster of this beau­ty­full pic­ture? There is it?

  • Aj Drakie says:

    You’re right, Mar­dor­we. Why is there so much neg­a­tiv­i­ty?

  • mairead says:

    also miss­ing are the ancient Berber lan­guages — Kabyle, Chaoui — it’s ridicu­lous to miss these out!

  • amudha says:

    its strange that i could­n’t find “TAMIL” Lan­guage which is one of the old­est lan­guage in the world which still exist.

  • doris lange says:

    Dis­ap­point­ed you ignored all Native Amer­i­can lan­guages!

  • Giorgi says:

    cre­ator of this sucks! geor­gian lan­guage is miss­ing from this tree! :)

  • Dianesta says:

    Please dear athor, change the title of this arti­cle. Indeed even if you talk about the old world, the nubian lan­gage, and all african lan­gage must be here and oth­er from asia too. Words are impor­tant oth­er­wise this May look like anoth­er démon­stra­tion of white suprema­cy and brain­wash. We can­not have that in 2016

  • Jule says:

    What about the indige­nous lan­guages of indige­nous peo­ple — they don’t seem to be there

  • Thomas Mboa says:

    I am sor­ry, but your infog­ra­phy is not rel­e­vant as the tree of old world lan­guage fam­i­lies. What about Africa? since human­i­ty, writ­ing, read­ing, phi­los­o­phy and so on orig­i­nate from africa, do you think that there was no lan­guage at this place?

    You con­duct the ide­ol­o­gy of euro­pean dom­i­na­tion and by doing it you con­tribute to cog­ni­tive injus­tice. I sug­gest you to remove world in your title and put euro­pean.

  • Sándor Feltóti says:

    I look for my native lan­guage spo­ken by ab. 13–14 mil­lion peo­ple in Cen­tral Europa. I am afraid it is a flip­pant work.

  • Sándor Feltóti says:

    After all I have found hun­gar­i­an but it does not change my opinoin.

  • Ruthie Bridges says:

    Cou­ple of issues already. 1) did you know Ukrain­ian is more dif­fer­ent from Russ­ian than Ital­ian is from Span­ish? Span­ish is 33% dif­fer­ent from Ital­ian, while Ukrain­ian is 38% dif­fer­ent from Russ­ian. Obvi­ous­ly this isn’t depict­ed cor­rect­ly on this tree. Sec­ond Obvi­ous­ly it would be bet­ter inter­pret­ed as a vine, a fun­gus or bam­boo rather than a tree. Eng­lish as it is has many gael­ic ori­gins. Sad­ly this real­ly should­n’t mat­ter except many gov­ern­ments attempt to hide the true his­to­ry of things. It’s impor­tant to know things true ori­gins. For exam­ple, because of sovi­et occu­pa­tion of Ukraine, many thou­sands of Ukranin­ian words were lit­er­al­ly erased, and the lan­guage itself was deemed “lit­tle russ­ian.” The truth is Ukran­ian pre-dates mod­ern Russ­ian, and the “russ­ian” we know of today orig­i­nat­ed as the “kievien rus’ cen­tered in Ukraine almost 5 cen­turies before Moscow (edit: AND st. peters­burg) even exist­ed (edit: even as place names!), and this is “slight­ly” accu­rate­ly depict­ed at least on this branch. How­ev­er it obvi­ous­ly has a West­ern Euro­cen­tric bent to it. And why is not Dan­ish linked to Ural­ic? (sor­ry arm­chair lin­guist) I’m sure real lin­guists would point out many oth­er flaws in this.

  • Ruthie Bridges says:

    There are many many more flaws to it than miss­ing indo-euro­pean. For example…did you know Ukrain­ian is more dif­fer­ent from Russ­ian as Ital­ian is from Span­ish (Ital­ian and Span­ish are 33% sim­i­lar while Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian are 38% dif­fer­ent?) A very poor­ly researched dia­gram indeed. And why does Eng­lish not show it’s Gael­ic con­nec­tions? There are many many prob­lems. Why is not Dan­ish linked to Ural­ic? This is a mis­lead­ing, mis­in­form­ing dia­gram. I’m just an arm­chair lin­guist. I’m sure real lin­guists will find many many more prob­lems. How does an arm­chair lin­guist do bet­ter than this per­son did?

  • Daniel says:

    Do you know any­thing about lan­guages?
    Which uni­ver­si­ty degree do you have?
    Most of the things here are wrong.
    Please do bet­ter research before pub­lish­ing.

  • juan soriano says:

    Valen­cian is not con­sid­ered a lan­guage. It is a dialect of Cata­lan, usu­al­ly used mixed, by speak­ers, with Spanish(Castellano), as the Valen­cian vocab­u­lary is some­what lim­it­ed.

  • juan soriano says:

    That’s why it’s not here.

  • Eugene Kupper says:

    65% of Eng­lish is derived from Latin, 35% from Ger­man­ic roots.
    This tree has not grown prop­er­ly.

  • mair says:

    so is Welsh and they have scots not Gael­ic, missed out our Celtic lan­guages

  • Samay says:

    Even if this was for a com­ic it is still pret­ty damn racist to imply that the africans, arabs, and ori­en­tals will all be wiped out in this apoc­a­lyp­tic future while those on the map sur­vive.

  • Dana says:

    This graph­ic isn’t com­pre­hen­sive, or as attrac­tive, but it broad­ens the per­spec­tive a bit:

  • Alien & Stranger says:

    Going by the com­ments, per­haps the author should have asked a pro­fes­sor of lan­guages and lin­guis­tics for assis­tance. It’s one thing to have an ama­teur inter­est in a sub­ject, but it was per­haps unwise to pub­lish some­thing like this, with many omis­sions and pos­si­bly a good deal of spec­u­la­tion (not that aca­d­e­mics don’t spec­u­late!).

  • Nourdine hadouch says:

    One of the old­est lan­guage I miss in you’re three the amazigh.Still spo­ken by a group big­ger than 50 mil­lion peo­ple.

  • Yüksel says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this arti­cle does not include the main lan­guages (Ban­tu-African, Altai and Sino-Tibet­ian lan­guages..):(

  • Alper says:

    Ural­ic lan­guages is not a thin tree and not a part of hin­do-europen fam­i­ly… Ural­ic lan­guage is a part of Ural-Altay lan­guage fam­i­ly… Learn it…

  • Ferda Baraz says:

    I think it’s a big mis­take for you as an expert on the mat­ter, not to include Tur­kic lan­guages in your lan­guage tree as Tur­kic lan­guages are part of the Ural­ic lan­guage fam­i­ly, very sim­i­lar to Finnish and Hun­gar­i­an.

  • Bene says:

    Yes, this is a tree that shows the Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic lan­guage fam­i­lies. Turk­ish is not part of these two lan­guage fam­i­lies. It’s not an over­sight!

  • Bene says:

    Geor­gian is a Kartvelian lan­guage, not relat­ed to Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic, that’s all!

  • Bene says:

    Baque is a lan­guage iso­late and not part of the Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic lan­guage fam­i­lies.

  • Bene says:

    Nina, that is a very prej­u­diced and igno­rant thing to say. The tree illus­trates the Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic lan­guages which as far as we know are unre­lat­ed to the lan­guages of Africa. Just like all mod­ern humans are relat­ed in some way, so all lan­guages are prob­a­bly relat­ed, but just how Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic are relat­ed to any of the lan­guages of Africa is as yet poor­ly under­stood. I have nev­er met a his­tor­i­cal lin­guist who thought Africans were sub­hu­mans, that idea is your own.

  • Bene says:

    Alien & Stranger, I’m afraid it’s the com­ments that are igno­rant. They don’t under­stand that this is a tree that shows two (relat­ed) lan­guage fam­i­lies, not al the lan­guages of the world. Any lin­guist can see that, you’d have to be igno­rant about lan­guage fam­i­lies to not under­stand this.

  • Bene says:

    Fer­da Baraz, although Tur­kic is in some respects sim­i­lar to Hun­gar­i­an, it is unre­lat­ed to the Fen­no-Ugric lan­guages. Typo­log­i­cal sim­i­lar­i­ty and genet­ic relat­ed­ness are not the same thing!

  • Bene says:

    Tama­ra, the Geor­gian lan­guage branch­es off а dif­fer­ent tree, the kartvelian one!

  • Love to see the his­to­ry and foun­da­tion of indige­nous lan­guages as part of the lan­guage tree
    Would be tru­ly amaz­ing to see links between the very old and the new­er lan­guages!

  • Inci says:

    Turgut Bey,

    Clear­ly, Chi­nese (a Ural­ic lan­guage) can­not be omit­ted as well as Turk­ish. Espe­cial­ly, the impact of these strong lan­guages on the Ural­ic dis­tri­b­u­tion on the map. Fun­ny though, not acknowl­edg­ing the name Hakan or Atti­la com­ing from the same roots as Turk­ish, Finnish or Hun­gar­i­an and exclud­ing Turk­ish. Clear­ly this map has no sci­en­tif­ic bearence.

  • Syl Mate says:

    Agree… some­how our Hun­gar­i­an lan­guage missed out on the Finno-Ugric group… seri­ous mis­take if the author is a lan­guage expert…

  • Saba says:

    The whin­ing of some peo­ple here is pathet­ic. If you don’t like this lan­guage tree, make your own. It tells me a lot about your cul­ture when all you do is to whine about exclu­sion of some­thing.

    I thought it was a great.

  • nikitas says:

    O my gosh , I am sick for peo­ple that cre­ate face his­to­ry .
    Totaly incorect .…,how is pos­si­ble to pub­lish that think .… Read please some ancient his­to­ry .…

  • Akis says:

    ABSOLUTE CRAP, lousy pro­pa­gan­da !

  • alice m says:

    Min­na Sund­berg, the artist, was only trac­ing out Nordic lan­guages. Per­haps you you give a try at lan­guages from your region. :)

  • Eric Lawton says:

    If the head­line had been “some branch­es of the tree of lan­guage”, instead of its bold claim to be THE tree, you would have avoid­ed a lot of crit­i­cism.

  • On a recent trip to Leeuwar­den I learnt that Frisian is regard­ed as the clos­est lan­guage to Eng­lish. Inter­est­ing to see it depict­ed in this way.

  • Lau says:

    That tree is beau­ti­ful.
    Where does Chi­nese and Japan­ese sprout then? And what we call Ara­bic in a gen­er­al way but means so many dif­fer­ent coun­tries and pro­ple?
    Thank you

  • Naneh says:

    Armen­ian, a sep­a­rate branch of Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages, miss­ing, despite hav­ing 8–10 mln esti­mat­ed native-speak­ers.

  • patricia says:

    I believe welsh is the old­est Euro­pean lan­guage

  • Ahmet says:

    @Saba You thought “it was a great”.? OK. Also fun­ny that, from my per­spec­tive, you too are whin­ing about some oth­er peo­ple whin­ing-they’re not BTW- so.

    Worth not­ing that Ural-Alta­ic sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly con­sid­ered to be a one sin­gle fam­i­ly that has two main branch­es. And it’s a much more nat­ur­al idea than forced Indo-Euro­pean fam­i­ly. Writer of this page messed up in two places; 1) he decid­ed on a obtru­sive­ly eth­noen­tric, ill-edu­cat­ed title, 2) they went for the looks over sci­en­tif­ic quality(again, on pur­pose).

  • jesudas says:

    Sad that.. it’s ignored… I feel igno­rant and not done prop­er research

  • Sumay sarangi says:

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the author some­how con­ve­nient­ly skipped the only com­plete lan­guage in the world, San­skrit. Why and how not my con­cern but should be every­body else’s should it be speech includ­ing the advent of speech in human civil­i­sa­tion.

  • kaushal says:

    I think you missed gujarati lan­guage of west­ern indo aryan

  • Yvonne says:

    This map speaks as if there’s a white world only. It’s actu­al­ly pret­ty racist.

  • Wahyu says:

    I think I know the answer. Some­one named Ivan Lanin from Indone­sia post­ed this arti­cle on Face­book. He has a huge influ­ence among Indone­sian who learn lan­guage and lin­guis­tic.



  • Sunil says:

    With all due respect to the author, but what was the pur­pose of cre­at­ing this lan­guage tree? Com­plete mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the title.

  • Ranil says:

    Accord­ing to Eth­no­logue (, there are more than 7,000 liv­ing lan­guages across the world. Min­na’s Sund­berg’s work depicts only the Indo-Euro­pean and Ural­ic branch­es of the lan­guage tree, as many read­ers have already point­ed out. For those inter­est­ed, there’s a course on Cours­era enti­tled Mir­a­cles of Human Lan­guage: An Intro­duc­tion to Lin­guis­tics ( that’s an excel­lent intro­duc­tion to the top­ic.

  • Valentina Kimovska says:

    In the Slav­ic languages,South Slav­ic lan­guages, which are the lan­guages of the for­mer Yugoslav republics MACEDONAN lan­guage is miss­ing. It’s one of the old­est lan­guages with it’s own alpha­bet.
    You tree is not com­plete even if the inten­tion is to depict only the Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages.

  • liz says:

    low­er right side, it is there.

  • Eddy says:

    Maybe because there isn’t enough empir­ic data about these lan­guages.

  • Alex says:

    Russ­ian lan­guage is not the Slav­ic lan­guage. It is same group as finno-ugrics.

  • FILIP says:


  • ProfeJeff says:

    These mes­sages are inter­spersed with intel­li­gent respons­es as well as rather poor­ly informed ones. The per­son, for exam­ple, who claimed that Russ­ian isn’t Indoeu­ro­pean, but Finno-Ugric, has been ter­ri­bly mis­in­formed. All those who would enjoy learn­ing about the sources of Eng­lish, as well as the fun­da­men­tals of the sci­ence of lin­guis­tics are wel­come to search through the pages of The Lin­guis­tics Club locat­ed at the fol­low­ing URL:

    The blog was start­ed ten years ago to pro­vide infor­ma­tion for my lin­guis­tics stu­dents. (I have an M.A. in Lin­guis­tics from the City Uni­ver­si­ty of New York). Its con­tent is accu­rate. After I left the school, I no longer added to the blog, but you’re free to read through it and pose your own ques­tions which I think will be relayed to me. Have fun look­ing, read­ing and adding to your own under­stand­ing of the place of Eng­lish and oth­er lan­guages in the world. I hope you enjoy the read.

  • Srinivasan says:

    Where are some of the most impor­tant South Indi­an lan­guages, I’ve Tamil, Tel­ugu, Kan­na­da and Malay­alam. These lan­guages are spo­ken by a large pop­u­la­tion of the world today. In fact, Tam­i­ly, one of the most ancient lan­guages like Tamil is still flour­ish­ing.

  • Aleks says:

    You did­n’t notice Mac­don­ian, because it is out of pro­por­tion with near­by Bul­gar­i­an and Alban­ian (Mace­don­ian should be big­ger, because Bul­gar­i­an speak­ers are 7 mil­ion, Alba­ni­ans speak­ers are 6 mil­lion, Mace­don­ian speak­ers are 1.5 mil­lion, but on this pic­ture Mace­don­ian speak­ers are not 4 or 5 times, but 10 times less)

  • Ana says:

    I am sor­ry if mis­tak­en but unfor­tu­nate­ly I can not find Geor­gian Lan­guage in the tree branch­es. Geor­gian lan­guage — from Kartvelian lan­guage fam­i­ly is one of the unique and the OLDEST lan­guage in the world and you have missed it! To my hum­ble opin­ion, when you have an ambi­tion to write down a “tree of lan­guages”, at least you have to know the thing pre­cise­ly and thor­ough­ly. And also FYI — Geor­gian scripts were inscribed on the UNESCO Rep­re­sen­ta­tive List of the Intan­gi­ble Cul­tur­al Her­itage of Human­i­ty in 2016.
    Please bear this in mind.
    (Yours Faith­ful­ly)

  • rama says:

    Dont wor­ry.. thats the root for all above.!

  • Ajna Pakul says:

    You peo­ple cry­ing racism and say­ing it does­n’t include your lan­guage should take not that THIS TREE REPRESENT THE LANGUAGES OF MOSTLY INDOEUROPEAN DESCENT. It’s not ignor­ing your lan­guage, it’s just rep­re­sent­ing a cer­tain group.

    More over, oth­er lan­guage fam­i­lies (asian, african, native amer­i­can, etc) are hard­er to depict most­ly because we don’t have enough data about them.

    Of course, how­ev­er, title is very mis­lead­ing. The world is not only cau­casian and indoeu­ro­pean.

  • Robert Griffin says:

    I think y’all are miss­ing the For­est in your focus on this one Tree. Of course, oth­er trees could and should be drawn, but the pol­i­tics of post-colo­nial­ism is still get­ting in the way. By all means, keep point­ing all the beau­ty that can be found in your own lin­guis­tic trees, but maybe learn­ing more about Finnish could­n’t hurt. I only just recent­ly learned that Geor­gia has its own unique alpha­bet and I was glad to notice that this was point­ed out. I’ve also heard that there is anoth­er unique alpha­bet in West Africa. I agree that all of the World’s Lan­guages should be appre­ci­at­ed more, not less…

  • Yk says:

    Many major lan­guages from South India are com­plete­ly missed out, kan­na­da, tel­ugu, Tamil, malay­alam, koda­va, tulu etc. Al

  • Gerardo C. Payumo says:

    Don’t call it Tree of Lan­guages. Call it Tree of Euro­pean Lan­guages ONLY! Chi­nese, Bahasa, Fil­ipino, Pacif­ic Islands were missed out, so this tree pre­sent­ed is only a sub­set of the whole.

  • Marcelo Schwob says:

    You should con­sid­er the influ­ente of the french in eng­lish lan­guage, not direct­ly from latin. It is an enor­mous error.

  • Tamal Roy says:

    Where is Tamil here? Tamil is equal­ly old as San­skrit. Where are the oth­er three South­ern Indi­an lan­guages; Tel­ugu, Kan­na­da and Malay­alam?? Where is Gujarati? And the Marathi group are not South­ern zone but West­ern and South-west­ern zone. The south­ern zone are the Tamil, Tel­ugu, Kan­na­da and Malay­alam which are miss­ing.

  • KAVKAS says:

    This list made from..UK…Sapienti sat…

  • KAVKAS says:

    Bat has some sim­i­lar­i­ties with…Serbian language…over 3000 words…Regards from…Israel…

  • Francine says:

    Si in your view, in the “old world” they speak Eng­lish in Aus­tralia and Span­ish in South Amer­i­ca … but do not speak nei­ther French nor Eng­lish in Afrixa?
    I live in Aus­tralia and in the ” old world” peo­ple did not speak Eng­lish.
    The French lan­guage pop­u­la­tion is much big­ger if you add Africa . The total is over 450 mil­lion peo­ple who use French as their offi­cial lan­guage with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go the num­ber one French speak­ing coun­try (77 mil­lion) big­ger than France (65 mil­lion).
    This Info­graph­ic looks nice but is incor­rect.

  • Dmitry says:

    Dear authors and cre­ators of the map, you’ve done great work bring­ing more knowl­edge to peo­ple. Thank you for this.

    Of course there’ll be peo­ple say­ing your work is not good enough because they think it should include all 400+ Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages, includ­ing those with 20k speak­ers, or men­tion Tur­kic group and oth­er non I.E. lan­guages, or place Ukrain­ian far­ther from Russ­ian, or pays less atten­tion to Eng­lish, or more to French, and so on.

    Again, your work is great, and it well deliv­ers exact­ly what it was cre­at­ed for: spreads some basic knowl­edge to non-pro­fes­sion­als. Who­ev­er wants to see a full tree, or esti­mate how large spe­cif­ic “leaves” should be, bas­ing on dozens of com­pet­ing lin­guis­tic the­o­ries about cer­tain I.E. lan­guages should spend some time and read books instead of hop­ing to get all the data they need pre­sent­ed (in a way they like) all in one pic­ture.

  • Nino says:

    Where is Geor­gian lan­guage — ქართული ენა ?

  • MIKE says:


  • Ivan Morales says:

    All means, keep point­ing all the beau­ty that can be found in your own lin­guis­tic trees, but maybe learn­ing more about Finnish couldn’t hurt. I only just recent­ly learned that Geor­gia has its own unique alpha­bet and I was glad to notice that this was point­ed out. This tree metaphor to a delight­ful­ly lav­ish extreme, trac­ing, say, how Indo-Euro­pean lin­guis­tic roots sprout­ed a vari­ety of mod­ern-day liv­ing lan­guages includ­ing Hin­di, Por­tuguese, Russ­ian, Ital­ian and, of course, our Lan­guage of the Future. The size of the branch­es and bunch­es of leaves rep­re­sent the num­ber of speak­ers of each lan­guage at dif­fer­ent times: the likes of Eng­lish and Span­ish have sprout­ed into mighty veg­e­ta­tive clus­ters, while oth­ers, like, Swedish, Dutch, and Pun­jabi, assert a more local dom­i­nance over their own, sep­a­rate­ly grown region­al branch­es.

  • Paul Connah says:

    My kvetch: the ori­en­ta­tion of the tree. It should match the con­ti­nen­tal ori­en­ta­tion of the lan­guage groups con­cerned. West to the left, east to the right as in the West­er-Euro­pean detail below.

  • oof says:

    im veg­an

  • shiannah says:


  • shiannah says:

    gr8 m8

  • Manjunath says:

    Total Crap!!
    No prop­er research done.

  • John P. says:

    It is dif­fi­cult to please every­one, but I like your sug­ges­tion best Paul.

  • John P. says:

    African lan­guages are not Indo-Euro­pean relat­ed. Look at the chart again, it is about INDO-EUROPEAN lan­guages.

    Look up Afro-Asi­at­ic for your answer.

  • Duygu says:

    Artis­tic and cute but use­less and may mis­lead peo­ple.

  • Itxaso says:

    Where is Basque in all this though? Its not depict­ed any­where on the tree, yet it IS a lan­guage, and one that stands by itself at that. Would be inter­est­ed to see where it fits on this. Thanx!

  • Pedro says:

    How about the Basque?

  • Nand says:

    I am a South Indi­an , I don’t see Tamil Lan­guage in this tree. It’s one of the Clas­si­cal lan­guages. You should men­tion its ori­gin , you missed out all the promi­nent South Indi­an Lan­guages like Tel­ugu , Malay­alam and Kan­na­da born from Ancient Tamil ver­sion. Tamil has 80 mil­lion active and Native speak­ers. Please look into it.

  • Susansheppard says:

    Light­en up. I don’t see the Algo­nquin or Iro­quois lan­guage of some of my ances­tors but I under­stand these are the branch­es of the Indo-Euro­pean lan­guage tree and it’s sim­ply fas­ci­nat­ing. I want a poster of this map.

  • Nicko ali says:

    Can you enlist the sino-tibet­ian lan­guages?

  • Rick says:

    This graph­ic is not meant to be a com­pre­hen­sive list­ing or a schol­ar­ly work. It’s poster art from a postapoc­a­lyp­tic web­com­ic: Stand Still. Stay Silent, which takes place in what is left of the Nordic coun­tries, and the lan­guage dia­gram reflects that geog­ra­phy.

  • Eva says:

    Hi, why is there no.Hebrew in the chart? And also Ara­bic? Thanks. E

  • baris says:

    fun­ny that a whole con­ti­nent was col­o­nized and its local lan­guages are destroyed and replaced with e.g. latin and eng­lish then is put here instead of the lan­guages native speak­ers’ ori­gin

  • R. RAMARAJU says:

    It must be a fool­ish, half-boiled rep­re­sen­ta­tion of World Lan­guages. The ancient old TAMIL, more than 10,000 years old with high­ly rich old Lit­er­a­ture than any oth­er Lan­guage is miss­ing.…. or must have inten­tion­al­ly omit­ted. How­ev­er both are unac­cept­able and high­ly con­domnable. Don’t mis­lead.

  • Ines says:

    How you can con­sid­er Cata­lan as a lan­guage??? Is only a dialect…in this way you ll have to also say some­thing about Valen­cian, Basque and anoth­ers dialects which all coun­tries have.…is realy strange.

  • Dardan says:

    Alban­ian, with it’s own unique branch and the old­est of the lot.

    Respect for the old seadog! ❤

  • Aelithe says:

    To be hon­est with you, the slav­ic lean­guages are more relat­ed to indoiran­ian than to west­earo­pean. The most of slav­ic have many words from latine, but the root words and the gram­mar is not west.
    The pri­ma­ry dif­fer­ence between Indoeu­ro­pean ton­qyes are set­tim and ken­tum.
    There was evolu­a­tion of one of the sound, witch in gael­ic, ital­ic and gar­man­ian gropu evoluet­ed into K in the oth­er S.
    The name os tak­en from pro­nan­ca­tion of word a houndert. In old ger­am­nic was kun­dert, in old latine was cen­tum, c pro­nance like a enslish c in the word cat.
    In setim was pro­nance like s. In pol­ish sto, in urdu set. POl­ish 500 ist pięćset.

  • Aelithe says:

    Alban­ian is relat­ed to slav­ic. Part of setim group.

  • Dardan says:

    Alban­ian is not relat­ed to Slav­ic. It has noth­ing to do with Slav­ic lan­guages. It devel­oped 2000 years before any­thing resem­bling Slav­ic. Get the ref­er­ence from the lin­gus­tic sci­ence and don’t pre­sume things. You are not writ­ting coments on You Tube here.

  • Paul says:

    The tital is decep­tive.

    Where is Hebrew? Ara­ma­ic? Ara­bic lan­guages? Tamil?

    Some of the most ancient lan­guages?

    The trunk and branch­es sug­gest the orig­i­nal source of lan­guages.

    This is mis­in­for­ma­tion.

  • Krishna Murphy says:

    Where are all the OTHER lan­guages? This is very Euro-cen­tric, most­ly. I see no trace of hun­dreds of oth­er tongues, let alone deriva­tion of e.g. Native Amer­i­can lan­guages, Hawaiian/Pacifica tongues, to say noth­ing of the many that grew in the Indi­an sub­con­ti­nent and Africa.

    It’s fine to just do your own thing, but call it what it is, not “the tree of lan­guages” imply­ing that this is all there is. At least my old Web­ster’s dic­tio­nary had a more com­plete pic­ture in the front, and that was fifty+ years ago! Some­one’s either keep­ing all the good­ies hid­den away, or they’ve been asleep all this time!

  • AFONSO says:

    French is not even in the top ten of moth­er tongues inthe world. Actu­al­ly has the same num­ber of moth­er tongue speak­ers as Ger­man. Span­ish and Chi­nese are the most spo­ken moth­er tongues. The pro­jec­tion of 750 mil­lions of French speak­ers is fake even North­ern Africa also speaks Ara­bic and Rwan­da shift­ed to Eng­lish .

  • Gustavo says:

    Hi there. I don’t see the Vasc lan­guage or Euskeras (Same Lan­guage) in this tree…

  • Gerard Flood says:

    Laugh­able omis­sion of the biggie,Latin, now being used more and more for recre­ation. And Latin, ubiq­ui­tous in Med­i­cine, the key to under­stand­ing Law foun­da­tions and clear think­ing, west­ern lit­er­ary cul­ture, the struc­tures of gram­mar.

  • Ravan says:

    I can not find turk­ish lan­guages

  • robert baan says:

    lost in trans­la­tion (MAGYAR)

  • UltraMixo says:

    Where’s Geor­gian branch on this tree?! C’mon guys, Geor­gia has its own alpha­bet, cul­ture and his­to­ry, much longer than most lan­guages on the map! Geor­gian alpha­bet was derived from one of the Semit­ic alpha­bets around 6th cen­tu­ry BC.

  • Jacob Mathew says:

    What about Tamil and Malay­alam lan­guages?

  • George says:

    Par­don me, but where is Geor­gian? 😎 The coun­try with one of the unique 14 alpha­bets of the world, maybe I am mis­tak­en and could not find it? This is one of the ancient lan­guages…

  • Claire Diane says:

    Hebrew and Ara­bic are omit­ted. As well as Ladi­no. Yid­dish derives from both Hebrew and Ger­man­ic lan­guages.

  • Mokoosh says:

    All you folks com­plain­ing — this is regard­ing the Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages ONLY. There are MANY oth­er lan­guage groups such as Aus­trone­sian, Dra­vid­i­an, and Sino-Tibetan to name just a few off the top of my head.

    There is a great lec­ture series called: “The Sto­ry of Human Lan­guage” by John McWhort­er. I high­ly rec­om­mend it — espe­cial­ly for those of you who don’t real­ize there is a dif­fer­ence between Indo-Euro­pean and oth­er lan­guage groups. I hope you find it enlight­en­ing and help­ful!

    Cheers :)

  • Mokoosh says:

    You answered your own ques­tion. Tur­kic lan­guages are their own group and there­fore not part of the Indo-Euro­pean tree.

  • Jim Mills says:

    Where’s Gael­ic — Irish, Scot­tish, Welsh, Cor­nish, Manx? Why is ‘Scots’ with Eng­lish (it’s Gael­ic) — that’s incor­rect. Gali­cian is also a form of Gael­ic. Scots should not be con­nect­ed with Eng­lish — also incor­rect.

  • Rachel Guvenc says:

    A sim­ple google search shows that Turk­ish has been exclud­ed our lan­guage trees are more com­plex that this graph­ic.

    “Turk­ish belongs to the Altay branch of the Ural-Alta­ic lin­guis­tic fam­i­ly, same as Finnish and Hun­gar­i­an. It is the west­ern­most of the Tur­kic lan­guages spo­ken across Cen­tral Asia and is gen­er­al­ly clas­si­fied as a mem­ber of the South-West group, also known as the Oguz group.”
    All About Turkey › turkish.htm is

  • Linda Simon says:

    Aus­tralian indige­nous lan­guages are not rep­re­sent­ed on the tree. Is there a sep­a­rate tree for these lan­guages as well as trees for native Amer­i­can, Inu­it, Pacif­ic, African and SE Asian lan­guages.

  • Henk says:

    Pret­ty sure the Frisian roots are con­nect­ed the Dutch ones as they are almost are one lan­guage. You might check it out because this does not make sense and is com­plet­ly off

  • Jaime Winter says:

    There are a few dialects of Gael­ic miss­ing. Cor­nish, Scot­tish, and Mansh (I cant remem­ber how that’s writ­ten, but that of the peo­ple spo­ken on the Isle of Man)!

  • Emiliya Shishkova/ Zalimi Emel says:

    There are NO “slav­ic lan­guages”, by the way. Wan­na know why? Well, it’s because there is NO such a thing like “slav­ic peo­ple”. A genet­ic cat­e­go­ry like “slav­ic” does­n’t exist. You might want to look into the ancient Greek word “slaves” — find its mean­ing and find whom the Greeks were call­ing by this word.

  • damla says:

    yes I’m very angry about it… thats weird how they omit a lan­guage that has been spo­ken since the born of the time!

  • Jane Ann Smith says:

    The old­est of the Dra­vid­i­an lan­guages is Tamil, spo­ken by well over 300 mil­lion Indi­ans; how­ev­er, you men­tion Hin­di.

  • Jane Ann Smith says:

    cor­rec­tion: over 80 million/ not 300

  • Dy says:

    Alban­ian Lan­guage miss­ing which is maybe the first lan­guage in the world and very old!
    This is so pathet­ic!

  • செந்தமிழ் Senthamil says:

    Same I wished to ask . Thank you, madam for reg­is­ter­ing the com­ment.

    No lan­guage would be com­plete with­out ” TAMIL” , ” The Pri­ma­ry Clas­sic Lan­guage ” of the world.

  • ghazi says:

    why isn’t Ara­bic lan­guage men­tioned on that tree, while it’s very old lan­guage, old­er than many of oth­er lan­guages you men­tioned on that tree???

  • t0ss says:

    Text­book exam­ple of some­thing lit­er­al­ly being tak­en out of con­text and that lead­ing to inap­pro­pri­ate com­plaints about exclu­sion, igno­rance, worse, yada yada. In the work this is tak­en from, the main char­ac­ters are Nor­we­gians, Swedes, Danes, Ice­landers, and Finns. An impor­tant detail of the work, one that gives it a won­der­ful “tex­ture”, is the dif­fer­ing degrees of mutu­al intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of the lan­guages these char­ac­ters speak. The only rea­son a trun­cat­ed Ural­ic is includ­ed is to visu­al­ly show how Finnish is “up anoth­er tree” from the rest of the lan­guages rel­e­vant to the sto­ry. So, why no [insert your not includ­ed lan­guage here]? Because it’s not rel­e­vant to the work from which the graph­ic was tak­en. Sim­ple as that.

  • Nava Kama says:

    Thank you for com­ment­ing this! The Basque lan­guage pre­dates all Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages.

  • Catt says:

    I was also pret­ty sur­prised that tur­kic lan­guages were not rep­re­sent­ed at all. Also mon­go­lian, tibet­ian, japan­ese, chi­nese and many many more did­n’t find their place here. I don’t think its meant to be real­ly com­pre­hen­sive from what i under­stand.

  • SandyLoveday says:

    If French is to be the lan­guage of the future, they will have to let it expand. If what I read long ago is cor­rect, there is an effort to keep for­eign words from the lan­guage and con­trol new words. A lan­guage of the future will con­tain words from many old­er lan­guages, in my opin­ion.

  • Anne Comer says:

    Some­thing that seems obvi­ous to me is that the tree is not a sci­en­tif­ic trea­tise. It’s a work of art. It does­n’t have to be all encom­pass­ing, it just “IS”. Enjoy it and quit quib­bling.

  • Pamela Harvey says:

    What about Hungarian.…one of the biggest empires ever.

  • Sanjaya says:

    In lan­guage tree where is Tamil Lan­guage. Missed a major lan­guage

  • Ozlem says:

    No Tur­kic lan­guage is a big branch in Ural­ic lan­guages right next to Hun­gar­i­an. One shouldn’t start a job with incom­plete knowl­edge, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Ahmed Abdabi says:

    it seems that there‘s some sci­en­tif­ic racism in these cir­cles

  • J.P Loomans says:

    A very strange lan­guage tree !? Lots of liv­ing lan­guages ​​are miss­ing and some non-exis­tent “lan­guages” have been added !? Where are the; Tamil, Kan­na­da, Kashu­bian, Sile­sian, Sor­bian, Lausitz, Rusyn, Geor­gian, Basque, Ban­tu …? How come there is such a thing as; Croa­t­ian and Bosn­ian “lan­guage”, while we all know the Ser­bian lan­guage is the aux­il­iary ‑Lin­gua fran­ca in those recent­ly cre­at­ed arti­fi­tial nations, but there are no Mon­go­lian, Tibetan, or the real ancient and still exist­ing Khoisan lan­guages!?!?

  • mazandarani says:

    Mazan­daran lan­guage has more than six mil­lion speak­ers in Iran.
    Mazan­daran or Tabari is one of the most impor­tant lan­guages of north­ern Iran.

  • lazaras Benny says:

    Where is Tamil lan­guage.
    Old­est lan­guage in the world,
    Missed a major lan­guage.

  • Rahul Cheriyan says:

    Before com­ment­ing on this arti­cle PLEASE BE AWARE that the writer has lazi­ly tak­en this dia­gram out of con­text (and also mis­rep­re­sents it as a com­plete lan­guage tree). The graph­ic is intend­ed to show the lin­guis­tic rela­tion­ship between Dan­ish, Nor­we­gian, Swedish, Ice­landic and Finnish. It is a page tak­en from a Finnish graph­ic nov­el set in post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Scan­di­navia, and the illus­tra­tor does­n’t claim to rep­re­sent all Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages, only to show how those Scan­di­na­vian lan­guages fit with­in the indo-euro­pean and ural­ic lan­guage fam­i­lies. There are numer­ous lan­guage fam­i­lies, and indo-euro­pean only encom­pass­es the 5th most dis­tinct lan­guages (though today some of its lan­guages are the most wide­ly spo­ken glob­al­ly). FYI, many lan­guages spo­ken in the south of India, like Tamil, Kan­na­da and Malay­alam belong to the Dra­vid­i­an lan­guage fam­i­ly, though they often have loan-words from Indo-Euro­pean lan­guages.

  • Maria E says:

    Taga­log, spo­ken by almost all of the Philip­pines
    Fil­ipinos: Are we a joke to you??

  • ernst williams says:

    Hi Col­in,

    I too believe that French would be one of most speak­ing lan­guage by 2050. As for now its a sec­ond most use­ful lan­guage in the world for busi­ness along with Eng­lish.
    I too believe n learn­ing French lan­guage, while brows­ing I found few lan­guage learn­ing plat­forms like Edvan­za, Sim­plilearn etc. who offer dif­fer­ent cours­es on lan­guages.

  • KoKoBlack says:

    Just won­der­ing if there is/are tree(s) of all the Asian coun­tries lan­guages?

  • Prussoc says:

    That is because the Basque lan­guage is an iso­lat, not part of any lan­guage group. It is tru­ely unique!

  • Amarnath says:

    Tamil is not real­ly an ancient lan­guage as it came into exis­tence in pro­to form with kan­na­da, but it is debat­able. Not includ­ing these, maybe due to lack of knowl­edge.

  • Blake says:

    Thank you for men­tion­ing that. I spent 10 min­utes look­ing for Chi­nese. The chart is ter­ri­ble. I found a very good chart decades ago. I wish I still had it. I think it start­ed with 2 sides and I think one side was the lan­guages that use let­ters like Eng­lish (I can’t think of what the let­ters are called). The oth­er side was the lan­guages that use sym­bols such as Chi­nese. That is my vague mem­o­ry, but the chart did cov­er every­thing. I told a friend of mine that learn­ing Ger­man and Russ­ian was eas­i­er than learn­ing Chi­nese and she thought I was say­ing that learn­ing Russ­ian and Ger­man was easy and was dis­agree­ing with me. She was speak­ing Span­ish and I was speak­ing Eng­lish, and I was using a trans­la­tor to trans­late our con­ver­sa­tion. I tried to explain to her that for me learn­ing Ger­man and Russ­ian was eas­i­er than learn­ing Chi­nese. I did not men­tion pinyin to her, but even that is dif­fi­cult because of the inflec­tions. I see now in Google that the let­ters are called Latin, but I thought there was a dif­fer­ent term.

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