Language is our primary source of communication. It’s the method through which we share our ideas and thoughts with others. Language today is the most powerful tool we have for reaching out to others. We can use it to express our feelings, to spread our ideas, and even to establish peace.
Are you ready to agree to a small quiz?
If you randomly ask somebody two questions “How many countries are there in the world?” and “How many languages are spoken today?”
Or wait a minute! If we ask you these questions?
It is time to check the correct answers:
- According to the numbers offered by worldometers there are 195 countries* today in the world.
*dependencies (or dependent territories, dependent areas), Areas of Special Sovereignty (autonomous territories), and other countries recognized by the United Nations as not being self-governing are not included in total number.
- As of 2018, Ethnologue reports that there are now only 7,099 languages in the world. That’s three fewer languages than last year.
How close were you?
Why does the number of spoken languages change so quickly?
The number of languages is constantly in flux because linguists are learning more and more about the world’s languages every day. And beyond that, the languages themselves are in flux. They’re living and dynamic, spoken by communities whose lives are influenced by our rapidly changing world. The time we are living today is pretty fragile: approximately a third of languages are now endangered, often with less than 1,000 speakers remaining. Meanwhile, just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population.
Language today: what are the most spread and spoken languages?
The top ten languages and the number of their native speakers are as follows, according to the Ethnologue statistics:
Mandarin 845 million
Spanish 329 million
English 328 million
Hindi 182 million
Bengali 181 million
Portuguese 178 million
Russian 144 million
Japanese 122 million
German 90 million
Javanese 85 million
Where do the languages take their origin?
Researchers are still baffled as to how and when these numerous languages were invented. There are multiple theories about the origin of the languages. While there are only a few references mentioned in the Holy Bible and other religious texts, the origin of languages still remains a mystery.
One such reference as to the origin of languages comes from the Book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. According to the story, after the Great Flood, there were many people who united and decided that they wanted to see God. At that moment they were speaking one common language. So they agreed to build a city and tower of such height so it could reach the sky and the Lord. God didn’t like that idea so He blended their speech so that they could no longer understand each other. That was the reason why the human race starts to populate new territories around the world.
Why are the languages dying?
A key factor is in education. When a language ceases to be taught to young children, its rate of survival is very bleak. It can then be predicted with near certainty that it will not survive the death of the present native speakers. Based on current circumstances, linguists are now able to estimate that at least 3,000 languages will be lost within the next century. That’s almost half of today’s known languages!
Language today and me
Today a question of knowing several languages has lost its topicality simply because it turned into must-have. An average person in our society today speaks about 3 languages.
There are many factors that influence people to be able to communicate several languages:
A person needs to learn the language today in order to get in touch on an international level. Speaking it will help to communicate with people from countries all over the world.
This is the reason that has driven some languages to obtain a status of the international language. Students from different countries need to speak at least one common language to understand each other in class.
The Internet and Press
Since the Internet came into easy access, people got a chance to get connected to each other and communicate. Again we have come to the point that knowing languages is all about communication. When you open a web page, you see that you are offered a multiple choice of languages for you to be comfortable and confident in understanding.
Travel and Business
Travelling all around the globe will automatically bring you to the necessity of knowing the language. The more languages you speak, the easier it is for you to enjoy your vacation. What is more, languages will help you understand the culture, the mentality, the history of the country you visit. Remember the saying – The more languages you know, the more you are human. or lit. “As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”.
Linguistic skills will also help you in any business venture you choose to follow. If you visit some offices, companies, governmental organizations, or even math or engineering companies, you will see the importance of knowing languages. Any big company will hire their professional staff after getting to know whether the people they are hiring are good at speaking a foreign language or not. Companies who want to function at an international level only consider their staff well educated if they are good English speakers, writers, and readers.
Hope we were able to show you the general picture of what language today is, when did it take its origin, what is the overall picture of languages spoken today in the world. Moreover, we hope that we were able to demonstrate what languages mean today and how important it is to learn at least one or two foreign languages. How successful you are at learning to speak a language depends not only on your strategy but on the amount of enjoyment and engagement you have with your language resources.
This article is originally posted on our global translation blog Agato Legal Translation blog, we try to share with our audience in New Zealand every piece of knowledge that we believe it’s useful and informative. Happy reading!
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