Language familiesAbout 7 billion people live on Earth. And they speak about 7,000 different languages! Like people, languages can also be related. That is, they originate from a common root. There are also languages that are completely isolated. They are not genetically related to any other language. In Europe, for example, Basque is considered an isolated language. But most languages have ‘parents’, ‘children’ or ‘siblings’. They belong to a particular language family. You can recognize how similar languages are through comparisons. Linguists today count around 300 genetic entities. Among those, there are 180 families that consist of more than one language. The rest make up 120 isolated languages.
The largest language family is the Indo-European. It is comprised of around 280 languages. This includes Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages. There are more than 3 billion speakers on all continents! The Sino-Tibetan language family is dominant in Asia. It has more than 1.3 billion speakers. The main Sino-Tibetan language is Chinese. The third largest language family is in Africa. It is named after its area of circulation: Niger-Congo. ‘Only’ 350 million speakers belong to it. Swahili is the main language in this family. In most cases: the closer the relationship, the better the understanding. People who speak related languages understand each other well. They can learn the other language relatively quickly. So, learn languages – family reunions are always nice!