Eurasian Stepes are the birthplace of the world’s 400 major languages and dialects

Over 3 billion people speak the more than 400 languages and dialects that belong to the Indo-European family. According to Nature, the International Weekly Journal of Science, two fresh studies — one of ancient human DNA, the other a newly constructed genealogical tree of languages — point to the stepes (also spelled steppes) of Ukraine and Russia as the origin of this major language family.

According to the studies, languages emerged on the Eurasian stepes some 5,000–6,000 years ago, when the domestication of horses and invention of wheeled transport would have allowed herders there to rapidly expand their range. The stepes hypothesis notes that linguistic reconstructions of a proto-Indo-European tongue include words associated with wheeled vehicles, which were not invented until long after Middle Eastern farmers had reached Europe. According to Paul Heggarty, a linguist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, many linguists from around the world have signed up to the stepes hypothesis.

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