Ecological Association of Languages

Introduction

 It
says once upon a time everyone on earth spoke the same language. There was
harmony and peace. As they were settling down in a city, they decided to build
a tower which could reach the heavens. God saw man’s city and the tower and
decided to interrupt. He mixed the language of men and scattered them around
the world so they could no longer understand each other.
Though, Tower of Babel may be a
mythological story it has puzzled humans for long. When we acquired language
and when we started to write this- we all used similar sign languages. Today
there are thousands of languages and hundreds of script for those languages. So
a question naturally arises, were these languages same at some point of time?



Today many languages share few words from
each other like Trigonometry and Geometry are borrowed from Indian languages.
Scientific and technical words like Computer and Mobile are used across
languages. But these minor overlaps here and there are relatively new and can
be attributed to the interaction among humans.

Lingo and its origin

A common observation that one can make is how similar
languages in same geographical area are. For example, North Indian languages
like Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi are very similar to Hindi. Even South Indian
languages are very similar to Hindi in terms of grammar, alphabets,
pronunciations. One may therefore infer that these languages would have a
common ancestor. Most Indian languages seem to have descended from Sanskrit.
Similar observation can be made in case of European languages as well where
most of the languages seem to have descended from Latin.


Another source of language spread has been colonization.
Most European countries were very aggressive in expanding their hold on the
world- and they pushed for their products, forced colonies to work for them. In
this process they also carried their language with them.  


Relationship of Languages beyond Geography

To see a relationship between languages
which are geographically distant, takes more work than the similar common
sense. Similarities that provide solid evidence of common ancestry may not even
look like similarities at all at first glance. However, a closer look at the
phonetics, structure and usage of words reveal the secret. For example, compare
the English words father, foot, far, and five with the Ancient Greek words
meaning the same thing: pater, podos, per (“forward”), and pente
. Notice a pattern here? The English replaced “p” in Greek with and
“f”. Determination of common ancestry is based on such careful observations and
analysis.

 With
careful analysis, it has been established that both these group of language has
same ancestor. This group of languages is called Indo-European languages.
The common ancestor of Indo-European
languages like- English, Latin, Greek, Russian, Hindi, and many others spoken
in India and Europe is known as Proto-Indo-European, whereas the more recent
common ancestor of just English, German, Dutch, Norwegian and the other
Germanic languages is known as Proto-Germanic . 
We can compare the base-level of languages
including words, grammar and pronunciations to establish a relationship between
the languages. However, lack of written evidences again kicks when we try to
go back further to determine  the
original language.