Infographic: Old World Language Families

old-world-langauge-families-620x264For reasons both poetic and pragmatic, the tree has historically been the designer’s go-to inspiration for mapping relationships. In the infographic below, Finish-Swedish illustrator Minna Sundberg artfully uses this format to trace the world’s largest language families.

All of the languages illustrated here stem from subcategories of either Indo-European or Uralic origin, and on closer examination many fascinating links are revealed. Finnish, for example, is more closely related to Hungarian than its geographic neighbors, Russian and Swedish.

Coincidentally, the one language I can't find on this graphic is Basque, which makes sense. According to Wikipedia, Basque is not an Indo-European language at all but instead is the descendant of a language which predates the rise of Indo-European languages.

Click to enlarge:

old world langauge families

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About Nate Hoffelder (11480 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

1 Comment on Infographic: Old World Language Families

  1. Yeah. From what I remember from linguistics class, Basque is like one of two languages which seem to have no relation to any other current language and whose origins linguists are unsure of. I also assume you mean the only language in those regions as African and Asian langauges are also not there.
    I’m curious about the empty spaces in South America, Northern Canada, and Alaska

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