proposed superfamily of Eurasian and African languages

Nostratic is a hypothetical language family which includes many of the present-day language families of Eurasia. The idea is that Nostratic was spoken after the ice sheets melted but before people spread out throughout Europe and Asia.

Europe, Asia except for the southeast, North and Northeast Africa, the Arctic
Linguistic classification:Nostratic
Afroasiatic (usually included)
Dravidian (usually included)
Elamite (sometimes included)
Sumerian (sometimes included)

Many of today's languages are descendants of Nostratic, so it is thought. These include the Indo-European, Uralic, Altaic and Kartvelian languages. The Afroasiatic languages, native to North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Near East, as well as the Dravidian languages of the Indian subcontinent, are usually included as well.

The name "Nostratic" is derived from the Latin nostrates, meaning "us" (in other words, fellow countrymen). The idea was expanded in the 1960s by Soviet linguists, called the "Moscovite school" by Bomhard.[1][2][3] It has received renewed attention in English-speaking academia since the 1990s.

The hypothesis is controversial and has varying degrees of acceptance amongst linguists worldwide. Some linguists are unsure.[4]

The hypothetical ancestral language of the Nostratic family is called Proto-Nostratic. It would have been spoken between 15,000 and 12,000 BC, in the Epipalaeolithic period, near the end of the last glacial period.

A phylogenetic representation of Nostratic as proposed by Bomhard.[5] Eurasiatic includes the Indo-European languages

Related pagesEdit


  1. Bomhard, Allan R. and John C. Kerns 1994. The Nostratic macrofamily: a study in distant linguistic relationship. Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 3-11-013900-6
  2. Bomhard, Allan R. 1996. Indo-European and the Nostratic hypothesis. Signum.
  3. Bomhard, Allan R. 2011. The Nostratic hypothesis in 2011: trends and issues. Washington, DC: Institute for the Study of Man. ISBN (paperback) 978-0-9845383-0-0
  4. For instance Philip Baldi: "No particular side on the issue is taken in this book" (Baldi 2002:18).
  5. Bomhard, Allan R. 2008. Reconstructing proto-Nostratic: comparative phonology, morphology, and vocabulary, 2 volumes. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-16853-4