Spreading the Word

Many of the world’s languages derive from a single source. Harry Ritchie tells the story of Proto-Indo-European.

Bronze Age cult wagon miniature, c.ninth-fifth century BC, discovered in Spain.In English, the word for a male parent is father. In Dutch it is vader, in German vater and in the Scandinavian languages far. Father is also related to French père and padre in Spanish and Italian, which all derive from Latin's pater, to Classical Greek's pateras and even to peeta in Bengali or, indeed, pacer in Tocharian, an extinct language believed to have been last spoken about a thousand years ago on the north-western border of China.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email digital@historytoday.com.

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week