Maureen and Mike
Mansfield Library
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Welcome! You have reached the Natural Languages page which is just one part of the "Language Finger" homepage, which is an index by language to the holdings of the Mansfield Library at The University of Montana.

Natural Languages (Grouped by Family)


About Natural Languages & Language Families

Natural (or "native") languages are those which are learned in infancy, and are passed on from one generation of speakers to the next. They are what one traditionally has thought of as meant by the word "language." Because languages are in daily use, by (usually) numerous individuals, they evolve. Thus, it is possible to study groups of languages and determine whether they had a common parent language. So we may speak of language families. Linguists are not yet entirely agreed on the number of language families in the world. Of course, it is also possible to group languages geographically, and in other ways not based on established genetic relationships.

For the purposes of this site, 29 language families have been identified, with one additional category for those unidentified with any family as yet, and one for groups covering all or parts of more than one family.

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This page last updated 12-5-2003.