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Linguists have often used trees and branches as metaphors to explain and map the connections between language groups.

Minna Sundberg’s well known illustration shows the relationships between Indo-European and Uralic languages, why some languages are more similar than others and why neighbour countries speak different languages that do not belong to the same branch. A perfect example of the latter is with the branches of Finnish and Swedish or Norwegian.

The tree splits off into Slavic, Romance and Germanic branches on the right. You can spot some of Britain’s oldest languages clustered together in both the Germanic and Celtic branches, which interestingly appear on two completely different branches on two different sides of the tree.

The left side of the tree maps out the Indo-Iranian languages, showing, for example, the connections between Hindi and Urdu as well as some regional Indian languages such as Rajasthani and Gujarati.

So, having a good look at this language tree, it’s no wonder that it’s easier for some people of a certain country to learn another language of the same or neighbouring branch.

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