Languages have always been a source of fascination, offering insight to foreign nations and their cultures. There is so much information about languages out there that it is often hard to follow. Here is an attempt to gather and present you with some interesting facts about languages around the world.
How many languages are there?
Up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. 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?
According to figures from UNESCO, the world’s most widely spoken languages, by number of native speakers and as a second language are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.
Which languages are the hardest to learn?
This is mainly a matter of foreign language and mother tongue proximity. In general, the closer the second language is to the learner’s native tongue and culture the easier acquisition will be.
The Latin 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.
UNESCO has identified 2,500 languages which are at risk of extinction.
Around 200 artificial languages have been created since the 17th century. Among them, the commonly-known ‘Esperanto’, invented by Ludwig Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist from Poland, in 1887.
Why do we learn a second language?
According to research, people who use languages in their jobs earn around 8% more! Many scientists also believe that knowledge of another language can boost one’s 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!