This amazing tree that shows how languages are connected will change the way you see our world.

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This amazing tree that shows how languages are connected will change the way you see our world.

We often take the language we speak for granted, but a recent illustration and infographic shows just how many languages are connected in unexpected ways.

Illustrator Minna Sundberg created a ‘tree’ illustration showing how many of the world’s languages are related to one another. Each branch of the tree represents a family of languages, and bigger leaves represent more people using the language as their native one.

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Many of the world’s languages fall under the ‘Indo-European’ umbrella, which includes anything from Hindi and Bengali to English and Romance languages like Spanish and French.

The European branch splits into three main sections, Slavic, Romance and Germanic, which shows the complicated relationships between several languages.

Minna’s illustration shows a ‘tree of humanity’ as shown through the lens of language. But she knows that the tree doesn’t even begin to capture the entire canvas of humankind.

“Naturally, most tiny languages didn’t make it on the graph,” Minna told io9. “There’s literally hundreds of them in the Indo-European family alone and I could only fit so many on this page, so most sub-1 mil. speaker languages that don’t have the official status somewhere got the cut.”

The tree — which only covers Indo-European languages — also doesn’t show languages such as Chinese, Japanese and others, which fall under different language families. The different dialects of Chinese, for example, fall under the Sino-Tibetan family, which is second only to Indo-European in terms of numbers of native speakers.

Interesting, some languages, like Japanese or Korean, have their own family. Korean in particular is considered to be an ‘language isolate,’ with no apparent relationship to other languages.

People like to say we are all part of the larger human family. And certainly, a great majority of the world is all connected through something as basic and primal as language.




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