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15 Amazing Language Facts

  •  Posted on Mar 29, 2012  by  | Comments are off for this post.

1. Human speech organs are capable of producing over 800 sounds when we are born. In infancy a child learns which sounds are important to his or her native language and to disregard the rest. The older we get, the harder it becomes to learn the sounds that are part of a different language causing an accent to form.


2. There are around 6500 languages spoken in the world today, however about 2000 of these languages have less than 1000 speakers, with around 500 of those languages almost extinct.


3. Mandarin has the most native speakers of any language with approximately 1200 million, followed by Spanish (approximately 400 million). Only 5% of the world population natively speak English (approximately 350 million), however English has approximately 1500 million speakers including those who know it as a second languages and as EFL.


4. There are only about 225 native languages of Europe about 3% of the worlds total amount of languages.


5. Most languages can trace their language family tree through languages with a common ancestor. There are 8 language families for Europe’s 225 languages to be split into. Including the families of Romance language (Italian, French and Spanish) Germanic language (English, German and Scandinavian) and Slavic language (Russian, Polish and many other eastern European countries). However some languages have no known language family such as Basque, these are called Language Isolate.


6. The most common languages used in Europe that are not of indigenous decent are Arabic, Chinese and Hindi; each one with their own writing system.


7. There are around 300 languages actively spoken in the London alone.


8. Although gestures shown by body language can change meaning depending on the culture and country, there are gestures that are universal which include expressions to show happiness, sadness, boredom, fear, anger, surprise and disgust.


9. Many languages have more than 50,000 words however we use just a fraction of these in everyday conversation.


10. German has the most native speakers in Europe being an official language in Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein as well as Germany.


11. After Latin, the Spanish language is most heavily influenced by the Arabic language due to Spain’s naval trading history.


12. One of the greatest playwrights of the English language, William Shakespeare, invented the words obscene and puking. He also reputedly came up with the word “eyeball” as there is no known use of the word before its appearance in “A Mid Summer Night’s Dream” as well as the name “Jessica” where the name is first referenced in “The Merchant of Venice”.


13. French is an official language of Luxembourg, Haiti and more than 20 other African countries. The second largest French speaking city in the world isn’t in France, it’s Kinshasa the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


14. Although Latin is still used much in Law and science, Vatican City is the only country that has Latin as an official language.


15. Languages evolve all the time. The internet has not only added new words to dictionaries such as “lol” it has also added new meanings to old words; an internet “troll” is now commonly used to describe someone who uses inflammatory language or goes off topic in discussion.