5. 2 How is English Related to Other Languages? What is you and your siblings most common ancestor?

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5.2 How is English Related to Other Languages?

What is you and your siblings most common ancestor?

Your first cousins? Your second cousins?


Distinguish between the Kurgan and Anatolian hypothesis of Indo-European language diffusion

In terms of:

Geographical origin and cultural group livelihood strategy

Anatolian Hypothesis

Indo-European originated in Anatolia around 7,000 BCE

IE cultural group created the agricultural revolution and spread into Europe

Modern day Turkey

Kurgan Hypothesis

Indo-Europeans arrived in Europe around 3,000 BCE

Border between Russia and Kazakhstan

Violent origins

Came in on horse-drawn war chariots and attacked the agriculturalists living in Europe

Question Time!

Draw a family tree for English that includes group, branch, and family

How do the Anatolian and Kurgan hypotheses differ in terms of origin and livelihood strategy?

Which hypothesis for the diffusion of Indo-European do you find more compelling? Why?

Germanic Branch

West Germanic Group – further divided by elevation (subgroups)

High Germanic – origin in southern mountains

Basis for modern standard German

Low Germanic – English, Dutch, Afrikaans, etc

North Germanic Group – Scandinavian languages descended from Old Norse

Spoken in Scandinavia before 1000 CE

Standard Language

Variant of a language that a country’s intellectual or politically elite seek to promote as the norm

Standard English in the US

The King’s English AKA Received Pronunciation in England

Commonly used by politicians, public media figures, etc

Indo-Iranian Branch

Indic (Eastern) Group

India – 29 languages spoken by over 1 mill each

438 total

Official languages

Hindi (variety of Hindustani)

The British chose it for government business in late 1800s


22 scheduled languages – government is obligated to encourage their use

Many spoken varieties of Hindi, but only one written tradition – Devanagari

Urdu is spoken very similarly to Hindi, but written in Arabic

Reflects their Muslim identity

Iranian (Western) Group – written in Arabic

Persian in Iran

Pashto in E Afghanistan and W Pakistan

Kurdish in W Iran, N Iraq and E Turkey

Question Time!

How do Modern Standard English and Texas regional English differ

How are Urdu and Persian related?

Should the US make English the official language? Why or why not?

Should more than one language be made official?

Balto-Slavic Branch

East Slavic and Baltic Groups

Russian – spoken by more than 80% of Russian people

One of six official languages of the UN

Increased in global importance with the rise of the USSR post-WWII

Forced all citizens to learn Russian to promote unity

Pressure to speak local languages contributed to the fall of the USSR
Still used for common communication between post-soviet states

Official Languages of the UN

Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish

Balto-Slavic Branch

West and South Slavic Groups

Most spoken: Polish, Czech, and Slovak

Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible

Speakers of each can understand one another

During the communist era as Czechoslovakia the government tried to balance Czech and Slovakian language

Twice as many speakers of Czech

In 1993 Slovakia split from the Czech Republic

Due in part to perceived domination of Czech culture in Czechoslovakia

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia

One language, called Serbo-Croatian before the breakup of Yugoslavia

Now called Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin and Serbian

Assert their identity

Very minor linguistic differences

Bosnian and Croatian are written with Roman characters

Montenegrin and Serbia use the Cyrillic alphabet

Question Time!

What do Russian and Swahili have in common?

Considering their linguistic sameness, should the most similar Slavic languages be consolidated?

Romance Branch

Evolved from Latin, spoken by the Romans 2,000 years ago

Isolated by physical obstacles like the Alps and the Pyrenees

Vulgar Latin – Latin spoken by common people in the provinces

Not written

Spanish and French are official languages of the UN

Less spoken romance languages

Romansh in Switzerland

Catalán in Andorra and Catalonia, Spain

Sardinian – mix of Italian, Spanish, and Arabic

Sardinia = small Mediterranean island

Origin of English

Three tribes invaded the English Isles

Angles, Jutes, Saxons

Now called Anglo-Saxons for the two largest

English evolved from the language of these tribes

The Vikings also added some words when they attacked

Then the Normans, from France successfully conquered England in 1066

Official language changed to French, but common people still spoke English

The mix of English and French formed what would become modern English

Common words from German: sky, horse, woman, man, etc

Courtly words from French: celestial, equestrian, feminine, masculine

English Diffusion

English colonies all spoke English

Including a small colony in Jamestown, VA!

Ultimately English would become the language of North America when the US defeated France for control

Question Time!

Which group was displaced west when the Germanic invaders came to England?

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