Foreign languages are a necessity in this day and age. Everyone should know them and people learn them all over the world.
Interesting linguistic facts
7000 different languages are spoken in the world today. Asia alone accounts for 2000 of these.
The most widely translated children’s book in the world is The Little Prince (in 253 languages), followed by Pinocchio (in 240 languages).
The most extensively translated author is Agatha Christie, with 7,117 versions of her novels.
The most commonly spoken language in the world is Mandarin Chinese, followed by English. However, English tends to vary slightly according to where it is spoken. Just think of the differences between the English spoken in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
English is the language with the most words: 490,000. The language with the fewest words is Sranan Tongo (also known as “taki”, a name that derives from the English “talk talk”), a Creole language with just 340 words. It is spoken in the Republic of Suriname, a former Dutch colony in South America. This language derives from a blend of Dutch, English, Portuguese and central and western African languages.
South Africa is the country with the most official languages: eleven, including two Indo-European languages and nine Bantu languages.
Papua New Guinea is an interesting case that is well worth mentioning. It has three official languages (English, Tok Pisin and Hiri Moto), but a further 850 languages are used on a local level. It seems incredible, but 10% of the world’s languages are spoken here in Papua New Guinea.
Mexico is home to many languages that are gradually dying out, including Ayapaneco. In 1971 there were just forty people who spoke the language, while the 2010 census shows that just four remain today.
Spain is also a country of linguistic diversity. Castilian, commonly known as Spanish, is the official language. But Basque (the oldest language in Europe), Catalan, Galician and Aranese are spoken in the various regions of Spain.
La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, has a language comprised of four consonants and four vowels. While this is fascinating in itself, it is even more unusual to learn that this language, called Silbo Gomero, uses whistling rather than words. In the past, shepherds used it to communicate across the ravines. It was about to die out, but local schools began teaching it in 1990.
Chinese should not be considered a single language, but is actually made up of several variants. The most widely spoken are Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu and Min.
The oldest languages still in use today are Aramaic, spoken in certain villages in Syria, while the Celtic languages include Gaelic, spoken in Ireland.
Latin, considered a “dead” language, is still spoken in the Vatican City, where it is the official state language.
The Sedang language spoken in Vietnam has more vowels than any other language in the world.
Brazilian is not a language, but a nationality. The language spoken in Brazil is Portuguese.