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Languages of the World | WLL 390 Steve Thorne World Languages and Literatures | PSU
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How did language develop in our species?
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How many languages are currently spoken?
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What counts as a ‘language’?
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What do human languages share and how are they different?
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What is the relationship between language and culture/cognition/perception?
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Why are languages dying? What can (and/or should) be done?
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.questions What is language? 1. The method of human communication, either spoken or written, used in a structured and conventional/recognizable way 2. Any nonverbal method of expression or communication: patterns of gesture and facial expression, signing 3. Metaphor/analogy: ‘pattern language’ of architecture, culture, art, behavior What counts as “a language”? The criterion of mutual intelligibility? A “dialect with an army and navy”? (Max Weinreich) “Language” is a political designation! Linguists use the term “variety” (or linguistic variety) Norwegian vs. Swedish, Hindi vs. Urdu (Khariboli, Hindustani) What is a dialect? Regional variety (spatial), sociolect (social class), idiolect (individual) More than accent/pronunciation. Accent is a part of dialect, which also includes differences in vocabulary, and grammar Dialect Continua: e.g., 1) Western romance dialect continuum, 2) Continental West German dialect continuum We all speak some sort of “dialect” or variety of a language!
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.how many languages are there? 7,111 languages according to Ethnologue.com
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Top 10 languages? List them!
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.languages by the numbers (approximations!) 1. Chinese Native = 1.2b L2 = 180m TOTAL = 1.38b 2. Spanish Native = 410m L2 = 90m TOTAL = 500m 3. English Native = 370m L2 = 740m TOTAL = 1.10b 4. Hindi/Urdu Native = 325m L2 = 360m TOTAL = 685m 5. Arabic Native = 240m L2 = 250m TOTAL = 490m 6. Bengali Native = 240m L2 = 20m TOTAL = 260m 7. Portuguese Native = 220m L2 = 35m TOTAL = 250m 8. Russian Native = 150m L2 = 110m TOTAL = 260m 9. Punjabi Native = 150m L2 = ? TOTAL = 150m 10. Japanese Native = 130m L2 = 131k TOTAL = 130m 13. Turkish Native = 78m L2 = 380k TOTAL = 77.5m 14. Korean Native = 77m L2 = ? TOTAL = ~77m 16. French Native = 77m L2 = 210m TOTAL = 285m 17. German Native = 79m L2 = 56m TOTAL = 136m
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.languages by the numbers 1. 14% of the global population speaks Chinese (#1 language) 2. 14% of the global population speak one of 3,346 ‘small’ languages 3. 95% of the world speak 300 of the world’s 7000 languages 4. ½ of the world speaks one of the largest 16 languages 5. Median size for speakers of a language is 6000 (Pereltsvaig, p. 12) *90% of languages have fewer than 100,000 speakers **Approximately 2,000 languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers!
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.languages by the numbers Language families by number of languages: 1. Niger-Congo, 1,500+ languages spoken in sub-Saharan Africa 2. Austronesian, 1,200+ languages spoken in SE Asia, Oceana, Madagascar 3. Trans-New-Guinea, 500+ languages spoken in New Guinea 4. Indo-European, with 449 languages, spoken in Eurasia (and North America)
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.language in use
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