Here are some interesting facts about languages around the world. I’ve compiled them from the website of bbc.co.uk. I guess it is one of the most decent sources when it comes to languages. 🙂
How many languages are there?
It’s estimated that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. 90% of these languages are used by less than 100,000 people. Over a million people converse in 150-200 languages and 46 languages have just a single speaker!
What are the world’s most spoken languages?
The world’s most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO (The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.
Which are the hardest languages to learn?
The ease or difficulty of learning another language can depend on your mother tongue. In general, the closer the second language is to the learner’s native tongue and culture in terms of vocabulary, sounds or sentence structure, the easier acquisition will be.
Globalisation and cultural homogenisation mean that many of the world’s languages are in danger of vanishing. UNESCO has identified 2,500 languages which it claims are at risk of extinction.
The Latin, or Roman, alphabet is the most widely used writing system in the world. Its roots go back to an alphabet used in Phoenicia, in the Eastern Mediterranean, around 1100 BC. This was adapted by the Greeks, whose alphabet was in turn adapted by the Romans.
Why do we learn a second languages?
According to research, on average, people who use languages in their jobs earn around 8% more! Many scientists also believe that knowledge of another language canboost your brainpower.
Languages beyond the world
When NASA launched the ‘Voyager 1 & 2’ spacecraft in 1977, they put on board golden discs containing the sights and sounds of Earth, including greetings in 55 of the world’s most widely understood languages. These are currently travelling through space!
Some of the oldest languages known include Sanskrit, Sumerian, Hebrew and Basque. A study of macaque monkeys suggests that languages may have evolved to replace grooming as a better way of forging social ties amongst our ancestors.
Around 200 artificial languages have been created since the 17th century. They include ‘Interlingua’(a mixture of Latin and Romance with Chinese-like sentence structure),‘Ido’, ‘Tutonish’ (a simplified blend of Anglo-Saxon English and German) and the more commonly-known ‘Esperanto’, invented by Ludwig Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist from Poland, in 1887.
Here is the website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/guide/languages.shtml
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