Why or how are different branches of a particular language born?

Specially in the ancient times that happened with Latin, with Norse, etc

1 Answer

  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    4 weeks ago

    As people spread far enough part, changes to the language among a specific population don't spread to other populations. Over time, enough changes accumulate, resulting in different dialects of that language.

    That process, called linguistic evolution, continues. Over hundreds or thousands of years (different factors affect the rate of change), those dialects will have changed so much that they are then mutually incomprehensible, and are thus different but related languages.

    Linguistic evolution affects all living languages, It only stops when a line of languages becomes extinct.

    It's the same process, whether we are talking about ancient or modern languages.

    Latin became the dozens of modern Romance (of Rome - not "romantic") languages, the five major ones being French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian.

    Old Norse became Icelandic, Faroese, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian.

    Latin came from Proto-Italic. Old Norse came from Proto-Germanic.

    English came from Anglo-Saxon (a case where a language evolve into one new language, instead of several, but it's the same process). Anglo-Saxon came from West-Proto-Germanic, which came from Proto-Germanic.

    Proto-Italic, Proto-German, and many others came from Proto-Indo-European.

    English undoubtedly in a few hundred years or so will have evolved into several new "Anglic" languages.

    Note that Dutch, another West Germanic language (like English), evolved into Afrikaans after Dutch colonists settled in South Africa.

    Every language we know about, living or dead, evolved from a previous one. No one knows what the original language(s) were.

    There are dozens of living and extinct language families we know about. We cannot link them together. That's either because they aren't related, or because their common language(s) existed so long ago that all traces of it/them have been wiped out over time. We simply don't know.

    The Tower of Babel story from the Bible is disproven by what we do know of living and extinct languages. They did not diverge suddenly. or from one place.

    The Germanic languages are an interesting case. Proto-Germanic was a highly inflected language. Its existing descendant language are all less inflected (relying more on word order), but to varying degrees. English and Afrikaans are very mildly inflected. Icelandic and Faroese are still fairly highly inflected. German is moderately inflected. Most other Germanic languages are somewhere between German and English/Afrikaans with respect to inflection. The rate of linguistic evolution can be variable, even within the same branch of a language family.

    Some languages (usually if very isolated from all other cultures) barely change over 2000 years, while others may have evolved into a new language or more, which in turn may have evolved into new languages, which may have also evolved into new ones, within the same time.

    Source(s): studied linguistics and the history of language.
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