A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor, called the proto-language of that family. The term 'family' comes from the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a...
(or phylum) of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe
Languages of Europe
Most of the languages of Europe belong to Indo-European language family. These are divided into a number of branches, including Romance, Germanic, Balto-Slavic, Greek, and others. The Uralic languages also have a significant presence in Europe, including the national languages Hungarian, Finnish,...
, the Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...
, and South Asia
Languages of South Asia
South Asia is home to several hundred languages. Most languages spoken in India belong either to the Indo-European , the Dravidian , the Austroasiatic , or the Tibeto-Burman South Asia is home to several hundred languages. Most languages spoken in India belong either to the Indo-European (ca....
and also historically predominant in Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...
. With written attestations appearing since the Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...
, in the form of the Anatolian languages
The Anatolian languages comprise a group of extinct Indo-European languages that were spoken in Asia Minor, the best attested of them being the Hittite language.-Origins:...
and Mycenaean Greek, the Indo-European family is significant to the field of historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...
as possessing the longest recorded history after the Afroasiatic family.
Indo-European languages are spoken by almost three billion native speakers, the largest number for any recognised language family.