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Ancient Languages of India and Pakistan


Rig Veda in Sanskrit

Rig Veda in Sanskrit

Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The languages of ancient India and Pakistan are usually called Indo-Aryan. Indo-Aryan languages are considered a branch of the Indo-Iranian language family, which is a branch of the Indo-European family of languages.

Indo-European --> Indo-Iranian --> Indo-Aryan (Indic)

Because of the negative connotation of the term Aryan, Indic often replaces Indo-Aryan, so you might see Indic listed as a branch of the Indo-Iranian language family.

There are multiple Indo-Aryan or Indic languages. The oldest Indo-Aryan or Indic languages are

  • Sanskrit (a literary language),
  • Prakrit (a vernacular),
  • Pali (like Prakrit but used for writing Buddhist texts), and
  • Apabhramsa (ancestor of most modern Indo-Aryan/Indic languages).

Source: Indo-Iranian Family, by Vijay John and Jonathan Slocum

Hypothetical Indo-Iranian Language Tree

Indo-Iranian -->

  1. Vedic (Indic) -->
    • Sanskrit -->
      • Hindustani
    • Prakit -->
      • Marathi,
      • Bengali,
      • Romany
  2. Old Iranian -->
    • Middle Iranian -->
      • Persian,
      • Kurdish,
      • Afghan,
      • Ossetic

Source: "Archaeology and Language The Indo-Iranians," by C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky; Current Anthropology 2002, pp. 63-88.

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