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 As of 500 BC, Latin was confined to a small area around Rome and shared Italy with many other languages. The expansion of Latin-speaking Romans eradicated all those other languages of Italy, then eradicated entire branches of the Indo-European family elsewhere in Europe, like the continental Celtic languages. These sister branches were so thoroughly replaced by Latin that we know each of them only by scattered words, names, and inscriptions. With the subsequent overseas expansion of Spanish and Portuguese after 1492, the language spoken initially by a few hundred thousand Romans trampled hundreds of other languages out of existence, as it gave rise to the Romance languages spoken by half a billion people today. (114)

Africa

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Southwest Asia

 

Egypt

 

Indus Valley

 

China

 

Europe

 

South America

 

Mesoamerica

 

North America

 New Guinea shows linguists what the world used to be like, with each isolated tribe having its own language, until agriculture's rise permitted a few groups to expand and spread their tongue over large areas. In the New World alone, hundreds of American Indian languages have become extinct in recent centuries. (114)

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