Language is one of the most important aspects of life. Everyone communicates through the use of language every day. It is a complex system of phonetics, syntax, pragmatics, morphology and much more. The world is full of thousands of languages built around different systems and basic foundations. Here are some interesting facts about language you may have never known.
1. Around the world, there are around 2700 languages used with more than 7000 individual dialects.
Chinese, Spanish, English and Hindi are the most widely spoken languages in the world – in that order. The most spoken language, Chinese, contains over 50,000 characters yet you’d only need to know around 2,000 of these to be able to read the newspaper successfully.
2. Another language or dialect dies every two weeks or so.
Currently, there are more than 231 languages that have gone completely extinct, and 2400 of the world’s languages are at risk of dying out.
3. The largest alphabet in the world contains 74 characters.
This alphabet belongs to the language of Khmer in Cambodia. At the other end of the scale, Rotokas holds the shortest alphabet with just 12 characters. The English language contains the most words – over 250,000.
4. Language learning makes you smarter.
According to scientists, learning languages and becoming a polyglot can increase your brainpower and can slow down your brain’s ageing process.
5. Languages influence other languages.
English is 30 percent French, adopting words through what is known as lexical borrowing. A lot of other languages are related in vocabulary and contain loan words from others.
6. Fake languages created for books and movies are learnable.
There are more than 200 artificial or “fake” languages that have been invented for television and movies – 13 of these exist in the Tolkien universe. Linguists who create these languages often ensure they have consistent systems, making them able to be spoken by people who learn them – it’s not just mumble-jumble.
7. Despite the sharing that happens between languages – onomatopoeias are not shared.
For example, you’ll hear rice bubbles in New Zealand go ‘snap, crack, and pop’ but in Germany, it’s ‘knisper, knasper, knusper’. In France, they go ‘cric, crac, croc’ and in Spain, ‘cris, cras, cros’.