Finno-Ugric

In the 19th century, Hungarian was placed in the Finno-Ugric family:

Like Finnish and Estonian, it belongs to the Uralic language family, with its closest relatives being Mansi and Khanty. It is one of the few languages of Europe that are not part of the Indo-European family.

This uniqueness has fueled the search for related languages east of the Kárpátok Carpathians.

Sino-Tibetan

Róng ríng or Lepcha language is part of the Sino-Tibetan family:

Where it is spoken [Sikkim, West Bengal, Nepal and Bhutan], it is considered to be an aboriginal language, pre-dating the arrival of the Tibetan languages (Sikkimese, Dzongkha, and others) and more recent Nepali language.

The remaining number of native speakers of this Himalayan language is estimated to be about 30,000.

Indo-European

Most of you reading this know that English is an Indo-European language:

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca. English is either the official language or an official language in almost 60 sovereign states.

Because of its youth, its history and usage are more easily traced than is the case for Magyar or Róng.

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Family Trees

A language family is a lot like a family tree.

A person's or language's relations or descendants are those that are connected to a primary progenitor or proto-language.

The DNA of Language Families

Early linguists used terms like "family" to describe language kinship.

They took this terminology from the biological connections found between related people. For example, "daughter languages" of a proto-language are considered "genetically related."

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More on Language Families

The creation and grouping of language families has a remarkable history. Researchers continue using the system (and debating its structure) still today.

Learn more at our 'language families' articles and posts.