When one talks about Indo-European languages, one should understand what this classification of languages really means. The Indo-European languages are by far the most well studied and recorded language group, or more traditionally language family, of any language group on the planet. All the languages in the family bear marked similarities of the roots of core vocabulary, grammar and syntax.
Philology extrapolates known processes of language, those observable in the extant corpus of languages, in order to explain what is observed more generally in that corpus of samples of language– especially literature in all its forms. The paradigm for the relation between languages arises from the relationship of classical Latin to the more modern Romance languages. Traditionally, the latter languages are termed daughter languages with respect to the Latin language. Languages like Romanian and French, which are both daughter languages of Latin, are then termed sister languages. The catch is that one does not know for certain that such a model of the relationship between two languages actually applies unless one knows the specific histories of the given languages under consideration. Thus, one hypothesizes a proto-Indo-European language existed, but one cannot be certain it did so because one has no actual record of it, not even to our knowledge a reference to it in some other language. That being said, however literally one should or should not take the model, the model of the Indo-European languages as descended from some unrecorded common parent language referred to as proto-Indo-European is conceptually highly useful.
Ten known branches of the Indo-European languages exist according to the most standard counting. They are as follows:
- Balto-Slavic (formerly treated as two branches: Baltic and Slavic)
- Hellenic (Greek)
- Indo-Iranian (sometimes separately Indic and Iranian branches)
- Italic (including Latin)
N.B.: In past, speculations on the nature of a proto-Indo-European culture have led to all manner of racist fantasies, and so any discussion of the society which may have spoken proto-Indo-European should be approached with due skepticism. Any reference in the discussions to the people speaking proto-Indo-European as Aryans is a dead give-away that the discussion should be dismissed as racist non-sense.
- Sanskrit: Its Origin and Influence (brighthub.com)
- An Introduction to a Brief History of the Latin Language (brighthub.com)