Nostratic languages

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Nostratic is a proposed language family (sometimes called a macrofamily or a superfamily) that includes many of the indigenous language families of Eurasia, including the Indo-European, Uralic and Altaic as well as Kartvelian languages. Usually also included are the Afroasiatic languages native to North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and the Dravidian languages of the Indian Subcontinent (sometimes extended to Elamo-Dravidian, connecting India and the Persian Plateau). The exact composition and structure of the family varies among proponents.

The hypothetical ancestral language of the Nostratic family is called Proto-Nostratic.[1] Proto-Nostratic would necessarily have been spoken at an earlier time than the language families descended from it, which would place it in the Epipaleolithic period, close to the end of the last glacial period.[2]

The Nostratic hypothesis originates with Holger Pedersen in the early 20th century. The name "Nostratic" is due to Pedersen (1903), derived from the Latin nostrates "fellow countrymen". The hypothesis was significantly expanded in the 1960s by Soviet linguists, notably Vladislav Illich-Svitych and Aharon Dolgopolsky, termed the "Moscovite school" by Bomhard (2008), and it has received renewed attention in English-speaking academia since the 1990s.

The hypothesis has varying degrees of acceptance amongst linguists worldwide. In Russia, it is endorsed by a substantial minority of linguists working in relevant areas, such as Vladimir Dybo, but is not a generally accepted theory. In English-speaking academia, opinion is divided. Dedicated supporters, such as Allan Bomhard, and dedicated opponents, such as Lyle Campbell, both represent minority viewpoints. Some linguists take an agnostic view.[3] Merritt Ruhlen endorses Eurasiatic, a similar but not identical grouping. Eurasiatic was proposed by Joseph Greenberg (2000), and is taken as a subfamily of Nostratic by Allan R. Bomhard (2008).

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