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Languages of Europe and South Asia before the arrival of Indo-European languages
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A diagram showing Pre-Indo-European languages. It shows marked with a red dot who are the peoples who lived before the
Indo-European peoples flocked to the steppes.
The Pre-Indo-European languages are any of several ancient languages, not necessarily related to one another, that existed in Prehistoric Europe and South Asia before the arrival of speakers of Indo-European languages. The oldest Indo-European language texts date from the 19th century BC in Kültepe and Hindus text Rigveda from around same time, now in Turkey, and India and while estimates vary widely, the spoken Indo-European languages are believed to have developed at the latest by the 3rd millennium BC (see Proto-Indo-European Urheimat hypotheses). Thus, the Pre-Indo-European languages must have developed earlier than or, in some cases, alongside the Indo-European languages that ultimately displaced them.
A handful of the pre-Indo-European languages still survive; in Europe, Basque retains a localised strength, with fewer than a million native speakers, but the Dravidian languages of South Asia remain very widespread there, with over 200 million native speakers. Some of the pre-Indo-European languages are attested only as linguistic substrates in Indo-European languages.
Before World War II, all the unclassified languages of Europe and the Near East were commonly referred to as Asianic languages, and the term encompassed several languages that were later found to be Indo-European (such as Lydian), and others (such as Hurro-Urartian, Hattic) were classified as distinct language families. In 1953, the linguist Johannes Hubschmid identified at least five pre-Indo-European language families in Western Europe: Eurafrican, which covered North Africa, Italy, Spain and France; Hispano-Caucasian, which replaced Eurafrican and stretched from Northern Spain to the Caucasus Mountains; Iberian, which was spoken by most of Spain prior to the Roman conquest of the Iberian peninsula; Libyan, which was spoken mostly in North Africa but encroached into Sardinia; and Etruscan, which was spoken in Northern Italy. The term pre-Indo-European is not universally accepted, as some linguists maintain the idea of the relatively-late arrival of the speakers of the unclassified languages to Europe, possibly even after the Indo-European languages, and so prefer to speak about non-Indo-European languages. A new term, Paleo-European, is not applicable to the languages that predated or coexisted with Indo-European outside Europe.
Surviving pre-Indo-European languages are held to include the following:
Further, there have been replacements of Indo-European languages by others, most prominently of most of the Celtic languages by Germanic or Romance varieties because of Roman rule and the invasions of Germanic tribes.
Also, however, languages replaced or engulfed by Indo-European in ancient times must be distinguished from languages replaced or engulfed by Indo-European languages in more recent times. In particular, the vast majority of the major languages spread by colonialism have been Indo-European, which has in the last few centuries led to superficially similar linguistic islands being formed by, for example, indigenous languages of the Americas (now surrounded by English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and French), as well as of several Uralic languages (now surrounded by Russian). Many creole languages have also arisen based upon Indo-European colonial languages.