Standard Average European (SAE) is a concept introduced by Benjamin Whorf to group the modern Indo-European languages of Europe. Whorf argued that these languages were characterized by a number of grammatical similarities, which made them different from many of the world's other languages. His point was to argue that the disproportionate degree of knowledge of SAE languages biased linguists towards considering grammatical forms to be highly natural or even universal, when in fact they were peculiar to the SAE language group.
In Whorf's most famous example he contrasted what he called the SAE tense system which contrasts past, present and future tenses with that of Hopi, which Whorf analyzed as being based on a distinction not of tense, but on distinguishing things that have in fact occurred (arealis mood encompassing SAE past and present) as opposed to things that have as yet not occurred, but which may or may not occur in the future (irrealis mood). The accuracy of Whorf's analysis of Hopi tense has later been a point of controversy in linguistics.
Whorf likely considered Romance and West Germanic to form the core of the SAE, i.e. the literary languages of Europe which have seen substantial cultural influence from Latin during the medieval period. The North Germanic and Balto-Slavic languages tend to be more peripheral members.
Alexander Gode, who was instrumental in the development of Interlingua, characterized this language as "Standard Average European".The Romance, Germanic, and Slavic control languages of Interlingua are reflective of the language groups most often included in the SAESprachbund.