Some fun facts about languages

January 5, 2012

Today I will share some interesting facts about languages. To start, you will be surprised to learn that there are approximately 6000 languages in the world which are spoken by 7 billion people in 189 countries. Among these languages there are a number of indigenous languages with 225 in Europe alone, which is roughly 3% of the world’s total. There are even more indigenous languages spoken in Asia and Africa, which puts these countries ahead of the world when it comes to the number of languages spoken.

On an individual level, many people speak more than one language. In fact, half of the worlds population (i.e. 3.5 billion people) speak more than one language. Many languages have 50,000 words or more, but individual speakers normally know and use only a fraction of the total vocabulary – in everyday conversations people use only a few hundred words.

Most European languages belong to three broad groups: Germanic, Romance and Slavic. The Germanic family of languages includes Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, German, Dutch, English and Yiddish, among others. The Romance languages include Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian, among others. The Slavic languages include Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian and others.

There are thirteen languages spoken by more than 100 million people. They are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesian, French, Japanese, German, and Urdu. Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Korean are some of the hardest languages to learn. Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian – are among the easiest ones. Russian, Finnish and Hindi are of moderate difficulty.

As a bonus fact, you should know that Danish children start speaking later than children in other European countries, including neighbouring Norway and Sweden.

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