Know : When did Languages Start? A time line…

15,000 B.C. – Lesaux, France Cave Drawings. Historians date them to be from around 15,000 B.C.

6,000 B.C. – Proto-Indo-European language develops. Sixty Romance, Slavic, Celtic, Indo-Iranian, Germanic and Hellenic languages are all thought to have evolved from this one language. They are the first languages for about a third of all people.

5,000 B.C. –The first writing appears in Sumer. It evolves into the wedge-shaped writing style called cuneiform. Cuneiform was originally used to record things like trade.

3,400 B.C. – The Egyptians are using hieroglyphics and hieratic writing. Hieratic writing is a quick, cursive style of hieroglyphics.

3,000 B.C. – The Proto-Indo-European language is spreading out to Europe and Asia where other groups of languages will eventually evolve.

2,000 B.C. – The Greek language appears around this time. In Egypt, an early alphabetic writing was invented by Semitic laborers.

1,600 B.C. – The Phoenicians develop a phonetic alphabet.

1,200 B.C. – Chinese writing develops and is very complex. Writing is found on oracle bones. These are found in 1899 and explain much about Chinese culture.

800 B.C. – Egyptians use demotic writing. It’s a developed version of hieratic writing, much more like handwriting. Looking at it, you can hardly tell that it had evolved all the way from hieroglyphics.

500 B.C. – Classical Chinese are written on bamboo strips, cloth, and wooden tables.

400 B.C. – The first real grammar is used in India in a document on the structure of the Sanskrit language.

400 B.C. – The Qin script makes the main writing of China by the first emperor of the Qin dynasty. Previously, many different dialects of Chinese were used.

200 B.C. – The Tolkappiyam is written to explain the grammar of the Tamil language. It introduces ideas of separating words into verbs and nouns and talks about the alphabet having vowels and consonants.

200 B.C. – The Roman Empire conquers all of Italy, almost all of Europe, and some of Africa and Asia. This directly results in the development of the Romance languages – Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian.

179 B.C. – The Rosetta stone is written and has three languages written on it – Greek, Demotic, and Hieroglyphics. It has the same paragraph written in all three languages and was later used to decode Egyptian hieroglyphics.

1370 A.D. – The Bible is translated into English. This made it possible for the common people being able to read it.

1456 A.D. – The first printing press is invented in Germany by Johann Gutenberg. This makes the books much more available increasing literacy.

1755 A.D. – The Dictionary of the English Language Is written by Samuel Johnson. It gives the standardized spelling of the English Language.

1799 A.D. – The Rosetta stone is found in Egypt by the French. By using the Greek on it, they are able to translate the hieroglyphics and demotic writing on it.

1880 A.D. – Dr. Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof develops Esperanto, a universal language that he hopes will create harmony between people from different countries.

1916 A. D. – Ferdinand de Saussure, a French linguist, writes A Course in General Linguistics. He theorizes that language is a socially organized structure of meanings and rules.

1936 A.D. – The British philosopher A. J. Ayer writes Language, Truth, and Logic. He states that language is shared knowledge and confirmed through experience.

2000 A.D. – Languages from around the world start disappearing at an alarming rate. Some experts estimate as rapidly as one every 2 weeks.

Know : What is Your Language’s Word Order?

In linguistic typology, subject–verb–object (SVO) is a sentence structure where the subject comes first, the verb second, and the object third.  SOV is the most common type (followed by subject–verb–object; the two types account for more than 75% of natural languages with a preferred order). 

Word Order

Source : Frequency distribution of word order in languages surveyed by Russell S. Tomlin in 1980s.

Languages that have SOV structure:

Ainu,  Akkadian,  Amharic,  Armenian,  Assamese,  Aymara, Azerbaijani, Basque, Bengali, Burmese, Burushaski, Dogon languages,  Elamite,  Ancient Greek,  Hindi, Hittite,  Hopi, Hungarian, Ijoid languages, Itelmen, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean,Kurdish, Classical Latin, Manchu, Mande languages,  Marathi, Mongolian,  Navajo, Nepali,  Newari,  Nivkh,  Nobiin,  Pāli,  Pashto,  Persian, Punjabi, Quechua,  Sanskrit, Senufo languages,  Seri,  Sicilian,  Sindhi,  Sinhalese  and  most  other  Indo-Iranian languages,  Somali and  virtually all other Cushitic languages, Sumerian, Tagalog, Tibetanand nearly all other Tibeto-Burman languages, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and all other Dravidian languages, Tigrinya, Turkic languages, Turkish, Urdu, Yukaghir, and virtually all Caucasian languages.

Languages that have SVO structure:

Albanian, Arabic, Assyrian (VSO and VOS are also followed, depending on the person), Berber, Bulgarian, Chinese, English, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, French, Ganda, Greek, Hausa, Hebrew, Italian, Javanese, Kashmiri, Khmer, Latvian, Macedonian, Polish, Portuguese, Quiche, Romanian, Rotuman, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai, Vietnamese, Yoruba and Zulu are examples of languages that can follow an SVO pattern

Languages that have VSO structure:

Semitic languages (including Arabic, Classical Hebrew, and Ge’ez (Classical Ethiopic) (dead language)), and Celtic languages (including Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, and Breton).

Other families where all or many of languages are VSO include the following

  • the Afroasiatic languages (including the Berber languages and the Egyptian language)
  • the Mayan languages (including Classic Maya)
  • the Otomanguean languages (including Zapotec languages and Mixtecan languages)
  • the Salishan languages
  • the Austronesian languages (including Tagalog, Cebuano, Hawaiian, Pangasinan, Māori, Malagasy, and Tongan).

Both the Spanish and Greek language resemble Semitic languages such as Arabic in allowing for both VSO and SVO structures: e.g. “Jesús vino el jueves” / Vino Jesús el jueves, “Tu madre dice que no vayas”/”dice tu madre que no vayas”. In Spanish, the only restriction on the VSO form is for the object to require a definite or indefinite article in the sentence

Languages that have VOS structure:

 Austronesian languages (such as Malagasy, Old Javanese, Toba Batak and Fijian) andMayan languages (such as Tzotzil). However, these have either (mixed) ergative or Austronesian alignment, and as such do not have a subject as it has been traditionally defined. Among languages with true subjects, in Hadza the word order VOS is extremely common, but is not the default, which is VSO

Languages that have OVS / OSV structure:

Object–verb–subject (OVS) or object–verb–agent (OVA) is a rare permutation of word order. OVS denotes the sequence object–verb–subject in unmarked expressions: Oranges ate SamThorns have roses. While the passive voice in English may appear to be in the OVS order, this is not an accurate description. In an active voice sentence, for example Sam ate the oranges, the grammatical subject, Sam, is the ‘agent’, who is acting on the ‘patient,’the oranges, which are the object of the verb ate. In the passive voice, The oranges were eaten by Sam, the order is reversed so that patient is followed by verb, followed by agent. However, the oranges become the subject of the verbwere eaten which is modified by the prepositional phrase by Sam which expresses the agent, maintaining the usual subject–verb–(object) order.

Star Wars franchise creator George Lucas attributed to his fictional character Yoda a native language featuring OSV grammatical order, as reflected in the character’s instinctive application of the OSV template to English vocabulary in generating statements such as “Your father he is, but defeat him you must.”