I posted a chart recently that shows languages based on shared vocabulary. This one is more traditional—It shows family relationships based on etymology. There’s a slight typo in the circle at top center. It shouldn’t have that space between Proto and Indo. I suspect he had the text box set to justified, but what do I know. (My thanks to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by the Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.)
Added bonus: Here’s a link to a site where a guy suggests that he has figured out how Proto-Indo-European sounded. It’s guesswork, but it’s an educated guess, and it’s interesting. Our ancestors might have sounded like this.
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This doesn’t have much to do with writing, but it’s about language and it’s interesting.
The chart shows the relations among European languages based on shared vocabulary. The usual way of relating languages is by etymology. Note that Finno-Ugric is on the chart. Finno-Ugric is a language family unrelated to Indo-European (the language family that includes English), but it’s on the chart because being in Europe, the two families managed to share some words. Finno-Ugric means Finnish and Hungarian, by the way. It turns out that way back when there was a large migration of people from the area that’s now Hungary into Finland. And that’s why Finnish names sound so strange. Interesting, eh? (Celtic is a separate language family too, but everybody’s heard of that.)
My thanks to Vitaliy Kaurov for the chart.
OED is the Oxford English Dictionary, the most complete and scholarly dictionary of English. It’s famous for its etymologies, and once a word appears in the dictionary, it never leaves. This is useful for scholars who study old documents, but it’s also interesting. Run into a word you don’t know, and it’s in there, especially if it’s old. I once owned a copy of the OED. It was a very large volume, and it came with a magnifying glass (that I still have) that you needed to read the thing. The online version is much handier.
Especially of late, they add new words fairly regularly, once a year, I believe, and the new additions are good for several days of human interest articles. This year they added “cake pop” among others.
Okay, this isn’t exactly a Christmas present, but it’s Christmas eve, so I guess that’s close enough. And it has to do with new words. Go to this site to see which new words were added in any year; the idea is to see what new word was added in the year you were born. The word for me today is “mobile phone.” I don’t know if the word changes or not. I get the impression that if you come back another day, you might get a different word.
And with that, a Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you like your present.
XKCD is a comic for all kinds of geeks, intellectuals, nerds, mathematicians, developers, linguists, polymaths, and other brainy types. If you read The Writing Rag with any regularity, you would probably like XKCD, too if you don’t already subscribe. Here’s the link to this strip http://xkcd.com/1010/
And here’s the strip. You have to go to the actual site to see the alternate text (that pops up when you hover the pointer over the picture).