Monday, February 21, 2011
Linguists and scholars from all over the world agree that there are 6909 known living languages in our planet. A language is considered living as along as there is at least one person that speaks it as a mother tongue.
However, 80% of the population uses only 83 languages. Here is a table of languages spoken in the world in different geographic areas:
Geo. areas Spoken Lang. No. of speakers
Africa 2110 726 453 403
America 993 50 496 321
Asia 2322 3 622 771 264
Europe 234 1 553 360 941
Pacific 1250 6 429 788
Total 6909 5 959 511 717
I should add that half of the world's languages have fewer than 10 speakers. It is estimated that one language dies every two weeks, thus by the end of the 21st century over 50% of the languages spoken will disappear.
473 languages are nearly extinct as only a few elderly speakers are still living in:
Africa 46, The Americas 182, Asia 84, Europe 9, The Pacific 152.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Like all living things the language is in constant flux. The Vietnam war brought us new words such as “defoliate, firefight, friendly fire, search and destroy.” After Hiroshima and Nagasaki we started using“mushroom cloud, countdown, fireball, chain reaction, fallout, fission, fusion.”The new technology gave us “ATM, Pin number, e-mail.” and lately the progress of computer technology contributed to the creation of new words. In fact we find a range of widely used internet-related terms and particularly from social networking. However some language critics say that some neologisms were created as a marketing gimmick, others simply to compete for the title of “Words of 2009” The Oxford English Dictionary is constantly updating, adding new words. Have you ever defriended or unfriended someone, or organized a tweetup (tweet+meet up),or blown a vuvuzela (musical instrument used at the World Cup in South Africa)? In fact the 2010 Oxford English Dictionary has more than 2000 of these words, such as texting, sexting, netbook, globalshift,, ecotown, interweb (internet), choice-mom, (a person who chooses to be a single mother),chill pill (pill for relaxing), bromance (non sexual relation between 2 men), refudiate, (for which Sarah Palin was awarded the distinction of coining the 2010 word of the year and that she tried to justify the gaffe by saying:“I pressed an F instead of a P), staycation (a holiday spent in one’s home country), buzzkill (a person or thing that has a depressing effect), cheeseball (lacking taste or style). Let’s hope that in the future newly created words won’t create any controversy.