About half of the world's population speaks an Indo-European language. Now spread all over the globe, this language family has developed from a single pre-historic language spoken before the invention of writing.
Historical Indo-European Linguistics (also called Comparative Philology) studies the Indo-European daughter languages and reconstructs their common ancestor, called Proto-Indo-European (PIE), in various aspects (phonological system, morphology, syntax, lexicon). At the same time, many linguistic features of the individual daughter languages can be explained on the basis of PIE and its subsequent developments into the Germanic languages, Italic (including Romance), Balto-Slavic, Indo-Iranian, Celtic languages, Greek, Anatolian (Hittite, etc.), Albanian, and Tocharian. All this is possible because linguistic change is not arbitrary, but based on general principles best visible in phonology and morphology.
The philological treatment of Indo-European languages also leads to insights into the cultural background of the respective language community (history, social structure, religion, philosophy, poetry, etc.).
Indo-European Linguistics is an interdisciplinary subject, dealing with an area ranging from Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Ancient Anatolia and Mesopotamiato India and West China and with language records going back as far as the 2nd millenium BC. As a branch of linguistics, it applies linguistic theory/theories to ancient, medieval and early modern language data and provides a wealth of information for theories of language change and language typology. In Würzburg, Indo-European Linguistics participates in the Master's program "General and Applied Linguistics" and collaborates closely with other philological disciplines.
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