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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Classification of Languages          193
with little plausibility about their evolutionary past. Besides about ten
great groups, such as vertebrates and arthropods, embracing the
majority of animal species, there are many small ones made up of few
species, isolated from one another and from the members of any of the
larger divisions So it is with languages. Thus Japanese, Korean,
Manchu, Mongolian, each stand outside any recognized families as
isolated units
We have seen that most of the inhabitants of Europe speak languages
with common features These common features justify the recognition
of a single great Indo-European family Besides the Romance or Latin
and the Teutonic languages mentioned in the preceding pages, the
Indo-European family includes several other well-defined groups, such
as the Celtic (Scots Gaelic, Erse, Welsh, Breton) in the West, and
the Slavonic (Russian, Polish, Czech and Slovak, Bulgarian and Serbo-
Croatian) in the East of Europe, together with the Indo-Iraman lan-
guages spoken by the inhabitants of Persia and a large part of India
Lithuanian (with its sister dialect, Latvian), Greek, Albanian, and
Armenian are isolated members of the same family
The Indo-European or Aryan group does not include all existing
European languages   Finnish, Magyar, Esthoman and Lappish have
common features which have led linguists to place them in a separate
group called the Ftnno-Ugrian family So far as we can judge at present,
Turkish, which resembles several Central Asiatic languages (Tartar.
Uzbeg, Kirgiz), belongs to neither of the two families mentioned,
and Basque, still spoken on the French and Spanish sides of the
Pyrenees, has no clear affinities with any other language in the world
Long before modern language research established the unity of the
Aryan family, Jewish scholars recognized the similarities of Arabic.
Hebrew and Aramaic which are representatives of a Semitic family The
Semitic family also includes the fossil languages of the Phoenicians and
Assyro-Babylomans The languages of China, Tibet, Burma and Siam
constitute a fourth great language family Like the Semitic, the Indo-
Chinese family has an indigenous literature In Central and Southern
Africa other languages such as Luganda, Swahili, Kafir, Zulu, have been
associated in a Bantu unit which does not include those of the Bushmen
and Hottentots   In Northern Africa Somali, Galla and Berber show
similarities which have forced linguists to recognize a Hamitic family
To this group ancient Egyptian also belongs A Dravidian family in-
cludes Southern Indian languages, which have no relation to the Aryan
vernaculars of India. Yet another major family with dear-cut features