Languages of the world• Between 6000-7000 languages.• 95% of the world’s people speak fewer than 100 of the approximate 6,000 different languages.• Not all languages have script.• Classical Languages (limited function) : – Latin – Sanskrit – Classical Greek• Several languages of the world have less than 10,000 speakers.
Widely Used Languages• In terms of number of speakers – English (international language of science and technology, travel, communication, business) (365,000,000) – French (72,000,000) – Spanish (387,000,000) – Chinese (Mandarin) (935,000,000) – Hindi (295,000,000) – Bengali (189,000,000) – Arabic (280,000,000)
Lesser know languages of the world• Chamicuro (Chamekolo, Chamicolo, Chamicura) spoken in Peru. (8 people speak this language – 2008 data)• Dumi, language of Nepal (8 people speak this language – 2007 data)• Ongota/Birale (Ethiopia)• Liki (Moar) (Islands of Indonesia)• Tanema (Tanima, Tetawo) (Solomon Islands)• Njerep (Nigeria)• Chmehuevi (Midwest/Western coast of US)• Maori (New Zealand)
Written Script• Some languages do not have scripts• Some languages have alphabetic writing system• Some have logographic/pictorial writing system.• Some have ‘phonetic’ writing system.
Are Some Languages Superior To Others?• Until start of 20th century, European linguists were convinced that Western languages were superior to others.• Anthropologists have shown that people from technologically simple societies are not less capable of expressing a variety of abstract ideas• Every language on Earth has the ability to express any thought: even sign languages, even pidgins, even the seemingly half-baked English creoles in West Africa, the Caribbean, etc.• No one language is more efficient at expressing abstract ideas than others• Languages were considered ‘culturally’ superior in history (Latin, French, Sanskrit, Classical Greek, Classical Arabic)
Why are some languages not good enough?• Reason 1: Language features – Can’t compound words easily – Morphologically very complex – Do not have vocabulary – Do not have efficient grammatical structure to express abstract ideas • tense/aspectual morphemes, singular/plural morphemes, gender morphemes, word order etc. – No grammar
Why are some languages not good enough?• Reason 2 – Some languages are ugly, barbaric, rude, sound harsh – Languages are not ugly, or rude – it is a social judgment of speakers of other people who think they are better than others.• Reason 3 – Some languages do not have vocabulary and logical structure to discuss ‘abstract’ thoughts used in Science/Art/Literature/music etc.