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Indo-European languages

With about 3.2 billion speakers, the Indo-European language family is the most widely spoken in the world. It is believed that Proto-Indo-European was spoken on the Pontic-Caspian steppe approximately five thousand years ago, largely by nomadic herders and pastoralists, before its speakers dispersed across Europe and western and southern Asia. The modern family consists of eight primary branches, roughly from east to west:

  • Indo-Iranian
  • Armenian
  • Balto-Slavic
  • Hellenic languages: spoken primarily (as Greek) in Greece and Cyprus, but also by minorities in Turkey and Italy (as well as by a diaspora around the world)
  • Albanian
  • Germanic languages: aside from English, spoken primarily in northwestern Europe and in South Africa; including English, spoken widely in North America, Oceania, and parts of Asia and Africa
  • Italic languages: the only surviving branch of which is the Romance languages, spoken by hundreds of millions primarily in Europe and the Americas
  • Celtic

There are also two known branches which are now extinct:

  • Tocharian, which was spoken in what’s now western China
  • Anatolian, spoken in what’s now Turkey