Family of Languages

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Family of Languages


a group of languages that are later forms of a single language; a group of languages originating from a single language. Examples include the Indo-European and Uralic language families.

The term “family of languages” has traditionally been used only in reference to isolated groups of cognate languages and not in reference to branches of language families; for example, the Slavic languages are not called a family of languages because they are a branch of the Indo-European family. This use of the term is inconvenient since it is sometimes questionable whether many families of languages can be isolated. In addition, the essence of the relationship of languages grouped as a family, as in the case of the Indo-European family, does not depend on whether a protolanguage is known. Therefore, many linguists more frequently use the term “family of languages” in a broader sense, speaking, for instance, of the Bantu family of languages, which itself belongs to the Niger-Congo family of languages.

Some specialists on the languages of America, Oceania, and other areas have introduced a system of terms to refer to language families at different stages of removal from the protolanguage: “family,” “stock,” “phylum,” “macrophylum,” and so on. Corresponding Russian terms include “microfamily” (mikrosem’ia), or “group” (gruppa); “family” (sem’ia); and “macrofamily” (makrosem’ia)—as in “Slavic microfamily,” “Indo-European family,” and “Nostratic macrofamily.”


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Known as 'language isolate' among linguists for its unique features, Brushaski still remains to be classified under any specific family of languages. Berger's three-volume work on this language earned him international fame.
Linguists note that it is the only living fully tonal language among the Indo-European family of languages. This family of languages is spoken by more than 46% of the human population, by far the most of any language family.
Some of them state, it originated in Persia, and some relate its origin to the Iranian group of the Indo-European family of languages. However, the language we speak at present is a very rich language; rich in idioms and idiomatic phrases, lullabies, folk tales, folk songs, and folk literature.
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), the Manobos are probably the most numerous of the ethnic groups of the Philippines in terms of the relationships and names of the various groups that belong to this family of languages. Mention has been made of the numerous subgroups that comprise the Manobo group.
'Other linguists and I were able to collect a hundred or so words which suggested that this language belongs to Indo-Aryan sub family of languages.'
Kurux belongs to the Dravidian family of languages, say Kobayashi and Tirkey, and forms a close subgroup with Malto.
Beyond Arabic, FSI offers localized language instruction in the northern and southern Vietnamese dialects, Brazilian and Continental Portuguese, and the Serbo-Croatian family of languages, including Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian variants.
Another educated view of the ranking above can consolidate a bit the family of languages, and so the C family of languages would actually be the clear leader with C and C++ taken into account together for a total of 91 points.
This, because retention is a whole family of languages belonging to that derived in the form of an ancient family of languages is concerned.
In discussing the invented term "KDM" (p.61), the author does not seem to realize that Kadazandusun (or Kadazan Dusun), although the largest language in the state, is but one of many Dusunic languages which constitute the Dusunic family of languages, whereas the Murut languages are from the Murutic family of languages.

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