Episode 3: The Indo-European Family Tree

A look at the family tree of Indo-European languages and the relationship of English to those related languages. The closest relatives of English are highlighted, including the Germanic languages, Latin and Greek. We explore the background of English from the first Indo-Europeans to the first Anglo-Saxons in Britain.

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4 thoughts on “Episode 3: The Indo-European Family Tree

  1. The latest insights with regards to the Frisians are that the entire area got de-populated starting 275 AD. They joined the Franks. There is evidence to that provided by W.J.de Boone in 1954 in his book “The Franks from their first appearance till the death of Childerik”. In a new study from John Hines and Nelleke IJssennagger from 2017, it is demonstrated that those early Frisians spoke a Celtic dialect.
    Friesland got populated again round 425 by people using exactly the same earthenware as the Anglo-Saxons which went to Britain. In the Netherlands there are 24 known runic inscriptions. 22 of them are from Friesland. Exactly the same runic alphabet as found in Britain. So you can make the correct conclusion that when the Anlo’s and Saxon’s came to Britain, some of them stayed in the empty lands of Friesland. And that is exactly why English and Frisian are so much alike. And why English evangelists could speak so well with the Frisians in the late 600’s, early 700’s.

    • Thanks for the note. FYI, I discuss the relationship been Frisian and Old English in some detail in Episode 28. Be sure to check that out.

  2. A couple of comments.

    Firstly, it is my understanding that the High German / Low German distinction arises after the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, and divides the continental West Germanic languages which underwent a consonant shift (High German) from those which didn’t. At the time of the invasion, I believe the West Germanic languages were divided into Istvaeonic, Ingvaeonic and Hermionic branches, and the Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Friesians spoke Ingvaeonic dialects. This region was only considered to be a source of Low Germanic languages at a later date when that distinction evolved.

    Secondly, I believe that the only reference to the Jutes is through English sources, and that there is no attestation of their existence in continental Europe. I am led to believe that their existence in Jutland is mere guesswork, albeit an educated one.

    • Hi Bob. This episode is intended as a simple overview of the modern Indo-European languages. All of the specific points you mentioned are addressed in future episodes.

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