Altaic () is a proposed language family of central Eurasia and Siberia, now widely seen as discredited. The Turkic, Mongolic and Tungusic groups are invariably included in the family; some authors added Korean and Japonic languages. These languages are spoken in a wide arc stretching from eastern Europe, through Central Asia to Anatolia and to the Korean Peninsula and Japanese archipelago in East Asia. The group is named after the Altai mountain range in Central Asia.
This view was widespread prior to the 1960s but has almost no supporters among specialists today. The expanded grouping, including Korean and sometimes Japanese, came to be known as "Macro-Altaic", leading to the designation of the smaller grouping as "Micro-Altaic" by retronymy. Most proponents of Altaic continue to support the inclusion of Korean.
Micro-Altaic includes about 66 living languages, to which Macro-Altaic would add Korean, Japanese and the Ryukyuan languages, for a total of about 74 (depending on what is considered a language and what is considered a dialect). (They do not include earlier states of languages, such as Middle Mongol, Old Korean or Old Japanese.)
Opponents of the Altaic hypothesis maintain that the similarities are due to areal interaction between the language groups concerned. The inclusion of Korean and Japanese has also been criticized and disputed by other linguists.
As for Turkic, Tungusic and Mongolic, if they were related genetically, earlier forms would be closer than modern forms. This is true for all accepted linguistic families. However, an analysis of the earliest written records of Mongolic and Turkic languages shows fewer similarities rather than more, which suggests that they do not share a common ancestor but rather have become more similar through language contact and areal effects. Because of this, most modern linguists do not accept the Altaic family.
A 2015 analysis using the Automated Similarity Judgment Program resulted in the Japonic languages being grouped with the Ainu and Austroasiatic languages, but showing no connection to Turkic and Mongolic. However, similarities between Ainu and Japonic are also due to extensive past contact. Analytic grammatical constructions acquired or transformed in Ainu were likely due to contact with Japanese and the Japonic languages, which had heavy influence on the Ainu languages with a large number of loanwords borrowed into the Ainu languages, and to a smaller extent, vice versa.
The Ainu languages shows the least connection with Altaic. No genealogical relationship between Ainu and any other language family has been demonstrated, despite numerous attempts. Thus, it is a language isolate. Ainu is sometimes grouped with the Paleosiberian languages, but this is only a geographic blanket term for several unrelated language families that were present in Siberia before the advances of Turkic and Tungusic languages there....LESS