First Tree of Languages


Felix Gallet, Arbre généalogique des langues mortes et vivantes, gravé par Geusler de Genève (Paris, ca. 1800). Graphic Arts GAX 2011- in process

Purported to be the first tree of languages, Felix Gallet's engraved broadside predates that of August Schleicher, who is generally credited with inventing the form. Winfred Lehmann in Historical Linguistics (1992) states: "The suggestion that the relationship between subgroups of a language is similar to that between branches of a tree was propounded by August Schleicher, who was strongly influenced by views on evolution."

The tree here shows two distinct groups, the first emerging from "La Langue Primitive," from which we see languages such as Greenlandic, Guianan, Turkish, Mexican, Persian, Hebrew and Tahitian. The second group derives from "Le Celte," which in turn generates the bulk of European languages. The interaction between the two groups is fascinating and shows what must be an early attempt to integrate some of the discoveries of the New World into the existing linguistic framework.

A more recent language mapping can be found at: