Language Family

Linguists divide the languages of the world, past and present, into various language families. Languages within a family share numerous cognates, and it is theorized that thousands of years ago the member languages had a common ancestor, a hypothetical protolanguage. There are ongoing attempts to prove relations between the different families.

List of some language families

Language FamilyExample Languages
Afro-AsiaticArabic, Hebrew, Hausa, Somali
AltaicTurkish, Mongolian, Korean, Japanese
Austro-AsiaticVietnamese, Khmer
AustronesianIndonesian, Javanese, Malay, Tagalog, Maori, Hawaiian
DravidianTamil, Telugu, Malayalam
Indo-EuropeanEnglish, Irish, Spanish, German, Greek, Russian, Farsi, Hindi
Niger-CongoSwahili, Yoruba, Igbo, Akan, Zulu
Nilo-SaharanKanuri, Luo
Sino-TibetanMandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, Burmese
UralicFinnish, Hungarian, Estonian

Some groupings, such as the Native American languages, Australian Aboriginal languages, or Papuan languages, actually span over several different families. Since they are related only by geography, not genealogically, they are not considered true language families.