Euroversals – Are all European languages alike?


Euroversals - Are all European languages alike?

Europe is full of languages! Actually, it may be full of ONE kind of language... Meet Standard Average European!

Subscribe for language:
Be my patron:


First, meet Whorf. (Or meet again, for some of you...) After studying Hopi and comparing it to European languages, he's sure of two things: language shapes thought, and Europe's languages can be lumped together into a single "Standard Average European".

Is there such a thing as "S.A.E."? If so, what does it look like? Decades of debate followed over which languages belong and which don't, which languages are part of Europe's "periphery" and which are inside Europe's "core".

Debate gave way to data gathering: the EUROTYP program (ahem, sorry, programme). On the heels of that huge effort, research shifted to quantifiable efforts to identify and classify European languages against each other.

One key part of that shift was to identify features common to most European languages. Another was to identify which ones were uncommon among non-European languages. Haspelmath's work combined the two, bringing us 12 traits that defined Europe as a language area, plus a bunch of likely candidates for further traits.

We'll take a few of those traits and play a quick game of You Might Be A European! Then we'll map the 9 of the 12 features that had complete data to find out which languages counted as "Standard Average European". Which languages were revealed to be the linguistic heart of Europe? How European is English? What about Basque?

We'll wrap up with some thoughts SAE and the reasons for its existence, including a more recent note on the general scholarly opinion or trend in work on Euroversals.


Art, narration, animation and some music by Josh from NativLang

Doc full of sources for claims and credits for imgs, music and sfx: