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Indo-Iranian languages: Wikis


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Southwest Asia, Central Asia, South Asia
ISO 639-5: iir

The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani. The term Aryan languages is occasionally still used to refer to the Indo-Iranian languages[1]. The speakers of the Proto-Indo-Iranian language, the hypothetical Proto-Indo-Iranians, are usually associated with the late 3rd millennium BC Andronovo/Sintashta-Petrovka culture of Central Asia. Their expansion is believed to have been connected with the invention of the chariot.

The contemporary Indo-Iranian languages form the largest sub-branch of Indo-European, with more than one billion speakers in total, stretching from Europe (Romani) and the Caucasus (Ossetian) to Xinjiang (Sarikoli) and Bangladesh. SIL in a 2005 estimate counts a total of 308 varieties, the largest in terms of native speakers being Hindustani (Hindi and Urdu, ca. 540 million), Bengali (ca. 240 million), Punjabi (ca. 120 million), Marathi and Persian (ca. 70 million each), Gujarati (ca. 45 million), Pashto (40 million), Oriya (ca. 30 million), Kurdish (ca. 40 million) and Sindhi (ca. 20 million).

Indo-Iranian languages were once spoken across a wider area still. The Scythians were described by Roman writer Strabo as inhabiting the lands to the north of the Black Sea in present-day Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. The river-names Don, Dnieper, Danube etc. are of Indo-Iranian origin. The so-called Migration Period saw Indo-Iranian languages disappear from Eastern Europe with the arrival of the Turkic-speaking Pechenegs and others by the eighth century AD.

The oldest attested Indo-Iranian languages are Vedic Sanskrit (ancient Indian), Avestan and Old Persian (two ancient Iranian languages). But there are written instances of a fourth language in Northern Mesopotamia which is considered to be Indo-Aryan. They are attested in documents from the ancient empire of Mitanni and the Hittites of Anatolia.



Indo-European topics

Indo-European languages (list)
Albanian · Armenian · Baltic
Celtic · Germanic · Greek
Indo-Iranian (Indo-Aryan, Iranian)
Italic · Slavic  

extinct: Anatolian · Paleo-Balkans (Dacian,
Phrygian, Thracian) · Tocharian

Indo-European peoples
Europe: Balts · Slavs · Albanians · Italics · Celts · Germanic peoples · Greeks · Paleo-Balkans (Illyrians · Thracians · Dacians) ·

Asia: Anatolians (Hittites, Luwians)  · Armenians  · Indo-Iranians (Iranians · Indo-Aryans)  · Tocharians  

Language · Society · Religion
Urheimat hypotheses
Kurgan hypothesis
Anatolia · Armenia · India · PCT
Indo-European studies

Iranian Group:

Indo-Aryan Group:

Nuristani languages:



  • Chakrabarti,Byomkes (1994). A comparative study of Santali and Bengali. Calcutta: K.P. Bagchi & Co. ISBN 8170741289
  • [1] abstract of the study of Minoan language and its link with Indo-Iranian (Hubert La Marle)
  • Indo-Iranian Languages and Peoples, edited by Nicholas Sims-Williams. Published 2002 for the British Academy by Oxford University Press

See also

Simple English

The Indo-Iranian languages are a language family inside of the Indo-European languages. Originally they were spoken in southern Asia. They are the largest Indo-European language subfamily.

List of Indo-Iranian languages

Indo-Aryan languages

See: Indo-Aryan languages

Iranian languages

See: Iranian languages

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