La Academia recently came across a beautiful illustration of the relationship of Indo-European and Uralic languages, by Minna Sundberg. It really shows how European languages are related to each other and to languages such as Persian and Punjabi that share common roots. Minna Sundberg wanted to illustrate that Finnish is quite different in origin to other Scandinavian languages, coming from a completely different branch of her language tree.

For speakers of English and related European languages it is interesting to see the links. For example, German and English both come from the Germanic branch, which splits into 3 main branches – High German (including German, Swiss, Yiddish), Anglo-Frisian (English, Scots) and Low Franconian (Dutch Afrikaans and Flemish).

The Italic Romance branch (where Spanish, Portuguese and Italian are the main languages) shows the importance of those languages in terms of number of speakers – in fact each language is given an amount of leaves that indicates the number of speakers of the language. Looking at the illustration it is clear that Spanish, Portuguese, Hindi and Bengali are the most widely spoken languages, so these are the languages to get learning!

Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish and Breton have their own Celtic branch of the tree, though the number of speakers is small, it is clear that these languages have a very separate history to some of the larger branches.

Minna’s tree is a great way to see how Indo-European languages developed and spread out across Europe and Asia – highly recommended to language learners!

Minna’s original posting is here: