As macro family, Makrophylum or superfamily is known in linguistics the combination of several generally accepted in the professional world language families to a larger genetic unit. The historical phase of these units is usually very far back (10,000 years or more), so that their detection very difficult and their refutation is impossible. This is the reason that macro families are not recognized by many linguists.

It thus belongs to the essence of the macro families that they are hypothetical and give them the broad scientific recognition times so far been denied in the rule. Some hypothetical macro families have, however, can only undergo quality change to the " great family of languages ​​" and on the recognition by the scientific community; including the Afro-Asiatic, Niger - Congo languages ​​and rudimentary and the Nilo-Saharan. These three now accepted by extended families were coined by Joseph Greenberg (see African languages), who is also the founder of the Eurasian, Ameri -Indian and Indo-Pacific.

Proposed macro families

The main proposed at the time macro families ( founder in parentheses):

  • Nostra table ( Pedersen, Illich - Svitych, Dolgopolsky )
  • Eurasia table ( Greenberg)
  • Dene - Caucasian ( Starostin, Nikolayev )
  • Austrisch (W. Schmidt, Benedict )
  • Indo-pacific ( Greenberg)
  • Australian ( Dixon, worm)
  • Congo Saharanisch ( Greenberg, Gregersen )
  • Amerindian ( Greenberg)

The Australian macro family is a special case because their genetic unit is accepted by many researchers. Now just the former main representatives of this unit - RMW Dixon - in his new comprehensive work Australian Languages ​​(2002) put this unit into question, so that you should regard as a macro Family Australian languages ​​today are more likely. One possible candidate for a macro is also the Khoisan family whose genetic unit is now rejected by most relevant experts.

Macro structure of the languages ​​of the earth

The proposed macro- families can be the approximately 6,500 languages ​​of the world in relatively few genetic units clearly summarized as Merritt Ruhlen 1991 and 1994 showed. The following presentation is based on the below web link. Here, the Eurasian Greenberg was incorporated as suggested by A. Bomhard in the Nostra tables.

Outline of the languages ​​of the world in macro families to Ruhlen 1991 and 1994

  • Nostra table Eurasia table ( according to Greenberg) Etruscan †
  • Indo-European
  • Ural- Jukagirisch
  • Korean - Japanese - Ainu
  • Niwchisch
  • Tschuktscho - Kamtschadalisch
  • Eskimo - Aleut
  • Elamite †
  • Harappanisch † (language of the Indus civilization )
  • Dravidian
  • Dene - Caucasian ( according to Starostin, Nikolajev ) Basque
  • Nordkaukasisch Abchaso - Adyghe
  • After - Dagestanian
  • Austrisch (after W. Schmidt, Benedict ) Hmong - Mien
  • Austro Asian
  • Tai - Kadai
  • Austronesian
  • Indo-pacific ( according to Greenberg) Papuan ( divided into 12 genetic units and some isolated languages)
  • Anda manic
  • Tasmanian †
  • Australian ( after worm, Hattori, Dixon ) (genetic unit is doubted today )
  • Congo Saharanisch ( according to Gregersen ) Niger - Congo ( according to Greenberg)
  • Nilo-Saharan ( according to Greenberg)
  • Khoisan ( according to Greenberg) ( iA now no longer regarded as a genetic unit )
  • Amerindian ( according to Greenberg)

Thus, the languages ​​of the world could be summed up in eight macro- families. The "creator" of the macro- families are indicated; the large proportion of Joseph Greenberg's classification of this work is unmistakable. The future will show how much of this program is implemented. Until then, the science of language with an abundance of several hundred detectable genetic units must be content.


The most extensive hypothesis in the field of macro- families is the view of the monogenesis all languages ​​, so the idea that all languages ​​are derived from " a common proto-language ", the so-called Proto - World language worldwide. Because of the enormous age of this proto-language ( very rough order of magnitude: 100.000 years) documents are also rebuttals to lead hardly so that the hypothesis can claim no scientific value in itself. However, for example, was made by Merritt Ruhlen and other researchers trying to discover global word equations or etymologies, ie words that are found worldwide in many language families in similar sound shape and related meaning. The previously offered " global etymologies " keep a serious examination hardly stand.