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Interesting facts about languages

The Outreach and Information Officer at the European Commission office in Wales, Leri Davies, discusses the benefits of a second language. She also explains what helped her learn different languages.

could gain from reading out loud or recording their own vocabulary lists and listen back to them.

The ease or difficulty of learning another language can depend on your mother tongue. In general, the closer the second language is to the learners native tongue and culture in terms of vocabulary, sounds or sentence structure, the easier acquisition will be.

Guides to history, politics and economic background of countries

Esperanto is a spoken and written blend of Latin, English, German and Romance elements and literally means one who hopes. Today, Esperanto is widely spoken by approximately2 million peopleacross the world.

Read the whole article from the BBC News Magazine onDying Languages

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Some of theoldest languagesknown includeSanskrit, Sumerian, HebrewandBasque.

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A guide to which languages are most widely spoken, hardest to learn and other revealing facts.

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Many scientists also believe that knowledge of another language canboost your brainpower. A study of monolingual and bilingual speakers suggests speaking two languages can help slow down the brains decline with age. And to quote Nelson Mandela, If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

may enjoy learning in a group or using flash cards or anything else that satisfies their hunger for experience.

Around 75% of the worlds population dont speak a word of English and a grasp of a different language improves your abilities to use your first language and explore other cultures more successfully.

TheUnited Nationsusessix official languagesto conduct business: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.

Its estimated thatup to 7,000 different languagesare spoken around the world. 90% of these languages are used by less than 100,000 people. Over a million people converse in 150-200 languages and 46 languages have just a single speaker!

The Latin, or Roman, alphabet is the most widely used writing system in the world. Its roots go back to an alphabet used in Phoenicia, in the Eastern Mediterranean, around 1100 BC. This was adapted by the Greeks, whose alphabet was in turn adapted by the Romans.

Another theory proposes that language evolved from the communication between mother and baby, with the mother repeating the babys babbling and giving it a meaning. Indeed, in most languagesmamaor similar ma-sounds actually mean mother.

News and analysis in a variety of languages

Learning tips: How to learn a language

Nearly every language uses a similar grammatical structure, even though they may not be linked in vocabulary or origin. Communities which are usually isolated from each other because of mountainous geography may have developed multiple languages.Papua New Guineafor instance, boasts no less than832different languages!

Something that might help is finding out about yourlearning style: are you a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learner?

A study of macaque monkeys suggests that languages may have evolved to replace grooming as a better way of forging social ties amongst our ancestors.

Dutch is said to be the easiest language for native English speakers to pick up, while research shows that for those native English speakers who already know another language, the fivemost difficultlanguages to get your head around are Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

The worldsmost widely spoken languagesby number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.

2,200of the worlds languages can be found inAsia, while Europe has a mere 260.

According to research, on average, people who use languages in their jobs earn around8% more!

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Human communication might have been sparked by involuntary sounds such asouchoreekor by communal activities such as heaving or carrying heavy objects, coordinated by shouts ofyo-he-ho, etc.

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Languages are grouped into families that share a common ancestry. For example, English is related to German and Dutch, and they are all part of theIndo-European familyof languages. These also include Romance languages, such as French, Spanish and Italian, which come from Latin.

might benefit from writing down words and phrases over and over again.

The first language you learn, your mother tongue, usually comes with little conscious effort. If youre lucky, you might even acquire more than one language in the so-called critical period of language learning, believed to end sometime between ages 4-12. After that, it doesnt come so easy, as you might have found out at school.

Languages of the world- Interesting facts about languages

Here are the worldsmost widely-used alphabets(or scripts) which are still in use today (in alphabetical order): Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese script, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese script, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Latin, Sinhala, Thai and Tibetan.

In September 2010, delegates at the Trinity College Carmarthen conference in Wales focused on how to stop endangered languages becoming extinct. Nine different languages are used in this clip to explain the current crisis, including Irish Gaelic, Maori, Berber, Guernesiais, Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Manx.

So, a Polish speaker will find it easier to learn another Slavic language like Czech than an Asian language such as Japanese, while linguistic similarities mean that a Japanese speaker would find it easier to learn Mandarin Chinese than Polish.

Read the whole interview of Andy Klom onlearning other languages

Find out about areas in the world with languages near extinction

When NASA launched the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft in 1977, they put on board golden discs containing the sights and sounds of Earth, including greetings in 55 of the worlds most widely understood languages. These are currently travelling through space!

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The Head of the European Commission Office in Wales, Andy Klom, discusses the advantages of a second language and says Learning another language is a matter of confidence, learning and hard effort.

Another theory is that our ancient predecessors imitated natural sounds: e.g. the bird that made acaw cawsound became a cuckooin a similar way to todays children calling things by the sound that they make: Look, theres a moo, baa, choo-choo!.

Finding what works for you could speed up your language acquisition – or at least make it more enjoyable!

Under the Romans,Latinbecame thelingua franca across Europe. As of 2010 theEuropean Unionhas23 official and working languages: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and Swedish.

Facts, key phrases and the alphabet in many world languages

One quarter of the worlds languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people and if these are not passed down to the next generation, they will be gone forever.

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Quick Fix: Essential phrases in 40 languages

Read the whole interview of Leri Davies onlearning other languages

Globalisation and cultural homogenisation mean that many of the worlds languages are in danger of vanishing. UNESCO has identified2,500 languageswhich it claims are at risk of extinction.

Around200 artificial languageshave been created since the 17th century. The first were invented by scholars for communication among philosophers. Later ones were developed by less scholarly men for trade, commerce and international communication. They includeInterlingua(a mixture of Latin and Romance with Chinese-like sentence structure),Ido,Tutonish(a simplified blend of Anglo-Saxon English and German) and the more commonly-knownEsperanto, invented by Ludwig Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist from Poland, in 1887.


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