Genetic Relationship among Languages: An Overview

  • Ghayeth Ersheidat Yarmouk University
  • Hafsa Tahir Virtual University of Pakistan
Keywords: Historical linguistics, Historical comparative-method, Indo-European languages, Language family, Linguistic-tree, Proto-language


This paper reviews the basic concepts of historical linguistics and the comparative techniques used by various linguists who studied Indo-European and American languages to determine a shared ancestry among languages. This paper also evaluates the major concepts of historical linguistics and the well-grounded theories and classifications that have guided and shaped the modern linguistic classification practices. For over one and a half century, historical linguists have been deducing the origins of different languages. Genetic classifications have been proposed for languages from all parts of the world and thus far, 142 language-families have been identified. Although all of these classification schemes are controversial in terms of their validity and reliability but with the progress in the field of bioinformatics, the problems in linguistic reconstruction have been greatly resolved. Therefore, the historical classification schemes that have been proposed earlier are being radically revised as further progress is made. It is suggested that, to develop further understanding of the typical pattern of language diversification and genetic classification of languages, more recent studies based on sophisticated bioinformatics and statistical techniques for linguistic data analysis should be reviewed.

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